Battery Plant That Received $150M Grant Lays Off Workers

A Michigan hybrid battery plant built with $150 million in taxpayer funds is putting workers on furlough before a single battery has been produced. Workers at the Compact Power manufacturing facilities in Holland, Mich., run by LG Chem, have been placed on rotating furloughs, working only three weeks per month based on lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.

The facility, which was opened in July 2010 with a groundbreaking attended by President Barack Obama, has yet to produce a single battery for the Chevrolet Volt, the troubled electric car from General Motors. The plant’s batteries also were intended to be used in Ford’s electric Focus. Production of the taxpayer-subsidized Volt has been plagued by work stoppages, and the effect has trickled down to companies and plants that build parts for it — including the batteries.


The 650,000-square-foot, $300 million facility was slated to produce 15,000 batteries per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs. But to date, only 200 workers are employed at the plant by by the South Korean company. Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea. The factory was partly funded by a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Randy Boileau, a spokesperson for LG Chem in Holland, told FoxNews.com that battery production is expected to pick up once Volt assembly lines in Detroit resume production on Oct. 15. He said the facility has spent the past two years building infrastructure and conducting pre-production “test runs.” Boileau pointed out the workers who are on furloughs one week a month are eligible to collect unemployment for that week, and he said the company covers the contributions to their individual benefits during the period.

Do you think sales of electric cars will be able to pick up soon? Would you switch to an electric car? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions with us regarding this issue!

Source & Image: Fox News

Saab Files for Bankruptcy

Swedish automaker Saab has filed for bankruptcy after months of struggle to stay alive. Saab’s owners have turned the company’s assets over to a Swedish court-appointed receiver.

General Motors, Saab’s former owner, had objected to a recently proposed deal under which the company would have been sold to Chinese investors including carmaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile. The deal required GM’s cooperation because it still supplies parts, designs and engineering for Saab products. China is one of GM’s largest markets and the U.S. automaker was reportedly concerned that its technology could end up in competing vehicles. GM still maintains an ownership stake in Saab.

There is a chance that Saab could be purchased, in whole or in parts, out of receivership, Saab spokesman Eric Geers said. Potential buyers would have to negotiate with the defense and aerospace company Saab Group, a separate company which still owns the rights to the Saab name and trademark, and with GM.

GM sold Saab to Swedish Automotive in early 2010 as part of GM’s bankruptcy reorganization. Swedish Automotive is a Dutch company that was then known as Spyker, a high-end brand of hand-made sports cars. But Saab continued to struggle under the new ownership.

Saab was founded as airplane maker Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (Swedish Airplane Inc.) in 1937 and entered the car business in 1946. The defense company Saab Group is a separate company today and remains in business.

 

Source: CNN.com

Image: BBC News