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Wednesday, 21 October 2015 17:12

LG Chem to manufacture Bolt battery cells in Holland, analysts say

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LG Chem Michigan Inc. LG Chem Michigan Inc. COURTESY PHOTO

HOLLAND – The lithium-ion battery cells for the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt could soon be produced in West Michigan.

That’s according to industry analysts who cite a recent strategic partnership between LG Electronics Inc. and General Motors (GM) to produce several components for the Bolt as evidence of a new product line at Holland-based LG Chem Michigan Inc.

Industry watchers believe the battery maker will manufacture lithium-ion battery cells and packs for the automaker’s newest electric vehicle (EV).

“I would think there’s a high likelihood that you'll see the Bolt battery coming out of that facility,” said Mike Wall, an automotive analyst at IHS Automotive. “They’re building a lot of cells out of there for various offerings so it’s going to be a matter of load for LG, where do they best want to optimize their manufacturing, but it would strike me as a pretty opportune location.”

A spokesperson from GM declined to confirm, deny or comment on the possibility of the Bolt EV’s battery cells being produced at LG Chem’s Holland location during a plant tour and question and answer session with journalists at its facility today.

As it stands, LG Chem is operating at full capacity with no immediate plans for brick-and-mortar expansion, “but we’re waiting ,willing and able,” said Nick Kassanos, president and plant manager of the facility.

LG Chem, currently employs approximately 318 people and plans to hire between 70 and 90 new workers in the next six months, said Human Resources Manager Jeremy Hagemeyer. The company recently completed a hiring phase of roughly 100 workers.

In addition the lithium-ion battery cells, GM announced yesterday that LG Electronics would manufacture the electric drive motor, onboard charger, electric climate control system compressor, battery heater, instrument cluster, infotainment system and a variety of control and distribution modules for the Bolt, according to a statement.

Wall said that LG Chem’s Holland facility could also produce some electric drive components for the Bolt.

“LG is picking up a pretty big contract with this Bolt,” Wall said. “It’s interesting to see because it’s indicative of that investment in electrification. With the Bolt it’s really that quest for GM to have a more mainstream model with more mainstream range.”

Chevrolet unveiled the Bolt at the North American International Auto Show in January and expects the EV to achieve 200 miles on a single charge, according to reports.

Currently, LG Chem supplies lithium-ion battery cells for the second-generation Chevrolet Volt as well as the Chevrolet Spark and Cadillac ELR. The company will also produce battery cells for the Cadillac CT6 in Holland, according to reports. LG Chem is also in the process of integrating production of another battery cell line for an additional unnamed automaker, Kassanos said.

Beyond the potential for new product production at LG Chem, Wall said the partnership between the two companies on the Bolt underscores GM and other automaker’s focus on electrification technology.

While Wall forecasts that electric vehicles will have modest market penetration until at least 2020, he expects hybrid vehicles to soon reach 20-percent market penetration.

“(The partnership) is interesting to see because it’s indicative of that investment in electrification,” Wall said. “With the Bolt it’s really that quest for GM to have a more mainstream model with more mainstream range.”

Read 4165 times Last modified on Monday, 26 October 2015 16:36

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