Chevy Volt battery plant halts production again after only one month

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

After only about one month of production, the Obama-backed maker of batteries for the Chevy Volt will delay production again.

Autoblog rep0orts that the South Korea-based LG Chem plant in Holland, Michigan that started making Chevy Volt batteries about one month ago — about a year behind schedule — will pause work for six weeks until the Environmental Protection Agency confirms the registration status of an “unspecified, low-volume ingredient” used in their battery production.

“We discovered the possibility that this material may not be properly registered and made the decision to pause our production until we have that question resolved,” LG Chem said in a statement. “We are currently reviewing the registration status and will work with the EPA to resolve the issue quickly. In the meanwhile, we are delaying production activities for approximately six weeks until we have confirmed the registration status or otherwise obtain approval from EPA.”

LG Chem was the recipient of $150 million from the Obama administration and got another $175 million in tax breaks. But despite federal assistance, the company’s Michigan plant has historically suffered from problems that have stymied its production.

The LG Chem plant began producing lithium-ion Chevy Volt batteries about one year behind schedule due to lagging Volt sales which meant it was made more sense to ship in batteries from South Korea than to produce them in the U.S.

A Energy Department audit found that LG Chem’s workers were paid $842,000 to essentially do nothing, as some played video games, watched movies or played cards. Other workers even took the time to volunteer at charities.

“We found that work performed under the grant to LG Chem Michigan had not been managed effectively,” the audit read. “Based on progress to date and despite the expenditures of $142 million in Recovery Act funds, LG Chem Michigan had not yet achieved the objectives outlined in its department-approved project plan.”

The DOE asked LG Chem to pay back the $842,000 that was used to pay workers for playing games and volunteering, and the company has said that workers will be kept busy with “improvement projects, specialized training and maintaining readiness” during the current production shutdown.

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Tags : chevy volt department of energy environmental protection agency
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