Sunday, January 11, 2009

GM to Make Volt Batteries in Michigan

A major win for Michigan. This is huge. Via the NY Times this morning-

GENERAL MOTORS will announce Monday that it will make lithium-ion battery packs to power the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and other extended-range electric vehicles at a new facility in Michigan. With the announcement, to be made during press preview days for the North American International Auto Show by Rick Wagoner, the company’s chairman and chief executive, G.M. becomes the first major automaker with a commitment to producing the advanced battery packs in the United States.

G.M. is also is expected to announce the opening of a new advanced-battery test facility at its global electric-vehicle engineering center in Warren, Mich.

This announcement, combined with the A123 announcement last week to build a lithium ion battery facility in Michigan (pending a DOE grant), marks America's first ventures into the mass production of advanced batteries, and we got it right here, baby. Tax credits for battery production, passed by the Michigan Legislature in December, created this opportunity for our state...

Full details, including the battery-pack plant’s specific location, are not expected to be released in the Monday news conference. G.M.’s announcement comes three weeks after Michigan’s legislature approved tax incentives worth up to $335 million aimed at attracting advanced-battery manufacturers to the state. The credits will be apportioned depending on production volume and other factors. Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm is expected to sign the legislation.

“This is very important, and it’s beyond symbolic,” said Brett Smith, speaking of the plant’s significance. Mr. Smith, assistant director for manufacturing, engineering and technology at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., explained that it is critical for the Detroit Three automakers to create an infrastructure in the United States for volume production of batteries for electric, plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles.

... and, by producing the batteries here in America, this means that we won't be "effectively trading dependence on imported oil for dependence on imported batteries." Most battery production is currently being done in Asia.

Not to mention all the jobs that will be created in Michigan, so, thank you GM. More will come out on this tomorrow, but Mlive has a video of the governor talking batteries and what this mean for the state and the country, filmed at the auto show today.

And if you like the pictures of the pretty, pretty new cars, just head over to either the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press front pages and start clicking for all things Auto Show. I've got my eye on that new Bentley myself. ;-)