By on September 7, 2013

LG-Chem

Only weeks after starting up long-delayed production of lithium-ion batteries for the Chevy Volt at their new factory in Holland, Michigan, LG Chem has announced that they are stopping production for up to six weeks because a compound used in that production apparently had not been registered for use in manufacturing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While no shutdown order was issued by the EPA, the agency recently issued a subpoena to LG Chem, demanding a list of chemicals used at the Holland facility.

LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer said in an email to news agencies, “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. 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 6 weeks until we have confirmed the registration status or otherwise obtain approval from EPA.”

The $303 million factory was partially funded with a $151 million federal stimulus grant to produce batteries for electric and hybrid cars. President Obama spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in 2011. The plant had more recently been in the news when it was discovered that employees were idle there. LG Chem at the time said that the plant’s output was not immediately needed because lower than anticipated sales of the Volt meant that their Korean operations were capable of supplying all the batteries needed for Chevy’s range-extended EV. After an audit by the U.S. Auditor General determined that employees were indeed not doing production work, LG Chem reimbursed the federal government $842,000.

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Hybrid and EV sales are up this year and GM will soon start selling the Cadillac ELR, which shares the Volt’s “Voltec” powertrain, increasing the automaker’s demand for batteries. Test builds on the LG Chem production line in Holland began in May. Last month LG Chem said that mass production has started at their Michigan facility and that after those batteries’ conditioning period was over the factory would begin shipments to GM by October for use in the Volt.

Hagemeyer said that during shutdown there would be no layoffs. Employees will be engaged in continuous improvement projects, training and maintaining readiness, according to the company. ”We view this as a temporary issue and are very confident that we will proceed with production soon,” he said, stressing that the plant is safe. So far, General Motors has not commented on the battery production shutdown.

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41 Comments on “LG Chem Suspends Newly Started Chevy Volt Battery Production at Michigan Facility Over Chemical Not Yet E.P.A. Registered...”


  • avatar
    VoltOwner

    Lets see, you have electric car batteries, Government subsidies, and President Obama all in the same place. Hmm, the deranged Obama hating Oil Lobby free marketeers should be checking in to “comment” in 3, 2, 1…

  • avatar

    you all can see why a company like this one is better off working in the Third World were there are no regulations!

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Well played, GM, well played. ((chortle))

  • avatar
    Maintainer

    No layoffs? That’s good to hear for a change.
    Crap on hybrids and electrics all you want but it’s the future whether you like it or not.
    The GM haters just need to sit and spin.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      It’s the future because the government (EPA) and California (CARB) said it will be. I don’t really like imposed/forced futures like that.

      • 0 avatar
        VoltOwner

        You are free to pipe your exhaust right to your steering wheel if you want. I prefer being able to breathe, thanks.

        One Free Marketeer, Check.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          I don’t know if it was your intention, but your comment implies that “Carrera” should commit suicide from carbon monoxide.

        • 0 avatar

          Interesting how some mock the notion of freedom so that they can be in control. Frankly, I prefer the collective wisdom of the free market to hubristic control freaks who think they are smart enough to get around Hayek’s knowledge problem.

          People who mock free markets in regard to environmental issues should read “Ecocide in the USSR” and look at pollution problems in China and then come back and tell us how the problem is not enough government control.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    curious as to just what the material is…

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    So the factory was paid 50% by taxpayer. and every Chevy Volt gets another $7,500 fromt he taxpayer… why not just give the car away for free and have the IRS pay for it.

    I’m all for EV, hybrids etc. But they should be (and technically are) able to stand on their own leg with no or only minmized subsidy. These subsidy amounts are insane.

    it is like subsidies for the oil industry. An industry making billions in profit and still requiring subsidies? something is rotten…

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Here’s a report on energy subsidies by the OECD:

      http://www.oecd.org/site/tadffss/ – follow the links to the spreadsheet for the US

      The spreadsheet shows categories of subsidy. Roughly 25% of the US oil industry subsidy is for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, another 25% for farm fuel exemption and 8% for HEAP – low income heat energy assistance programs. Applying liberal jiu jitsu, if you advocate getting rid of these subsidies, you must hate poor people and want them to go hungry while freezing during the winter. Really, I don’t impute any such motives to readers of this blog.

      An FHA document indicates 175 billion gallons of gas/diesel were burned in 2009- http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/pubs/hf/pl11028/chapter5.cfm
      Assume an average $0.50 per gallon tax and the various US governments are collecting $87 billion. Its not like completely eliminating the oil industry subsidy will produce a flood of new revenue.

      The massive Western private oil companies are but a pimple on the butt of the truly huge foreign national oil companies, which are instruments of their foreign policies. (Giant Exxon Mobil is half the size of ARAMCO.) Bush holding hands with a Saudi prince, Obama bowing to the Saudi king – I’ll ‘pay’ my share of far more than $4 billion to see the end of that. I wish I could say that I believed that battery technology subsidies could help in the foreseeable future – maybe a technology miracle will happen, they do – but I’m not for relying on it.

    • 0 avatar
      VoltOwner

      another Free Marketeer, check.

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        Assuming you own a volt as your name indicates? good for you and ifIi would own a Volt (I’m not prinicipally agaisnt it), i woudl have taken the $7,500 as well. but it is my right to complain about the fact that I have to pay for your subsidy. the same way you would have the right to complain about it if I had bought a Volt.

        How far have we come if you can insult people by calling them free-marketer? The free market has worked since humans discovered that one person is better at hunting, the other better at gathering or making stone tools.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Mein HerrKaLeun, this isn’t against you personally. The Volt’s and any other EV/Hybrids rebate amount is published and an easy to remember number. What gets complicated fast is what vehicles are covered under Schedule-199. What vehicles are covered, big SUVs cough; depreciation, and accounting rules. Doable, but mind numbingly dull. The end result? People might be shocked to find that a business’ tax write off may be much more that 7500$. Hard to figure depreciation rates? Yes, for most of us. Wildly ignored? Yes. As taxpayers are we still paying? Yes. Disclosure: I haven’t bought a corporate vehicle in over eight years

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    Ahh our government at work, making sure they get their PAC money.

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Chevy’s Volt is a car that, while good in intention and theory, is widely ridiculed due to association with:
    1. A president who either elicits feelings of love or hate, in the extreme.
    2. A overreaching, bloated, overextending, meddling Federal Government.
    3. Public relations/advertising proclaiming it as the “Next Big Thing!!” but falling short of its promises.
    4. Some of America holding a bias against all American manufacturers, some of it merited due to bad personal experiences, but some of it due to uninformed perception.

    • 0 avatar
      VoltOwner

      So I should put you down as a Free Marketeer, check. Any other foibles I should put you down for?

      “Widely ridiculed” in what circles? Just because RWNJ’s have been brainwashed by the industry most threatened by the new technology, does not make for “widely”. Even Faux News said it was a great car:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JtYqUsA1Koo

      • 0 avatar
        SayMyName

        I just want to chime in and thank you, VoltOwner, for perpetuating pretty much every negative stereotype that exists regarding your ilk. Kudos, sir.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Elitist who goes around an eco-friendly car? Check.

          At SayMyName: One of the main reasons I have an aversion to hybrids isn’t the cars themselves but the types that often drive them.

          • 0 avatar
            VoltOwner

            No, just cheap. I bought American, and I bought electric, in that order. Mainly so I could stop using oil, but also because electric cars run off domestic energy. No imports of coal or NG for me thanks, I run all my errands on American electrons made in my own power plant.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Way to go! Three cheers for VoltOwner!

            Hip hip, hooray!
            Hip hip, hooray!
            Hip hip, hooray!

            For he’s a jolly good fellow
            For he’s a jolly good fellow
            For he’s a jolly good fellow
            Which nobody can deny!

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            Electric power is produced by coal and natural gas (1/3 to 3/8 of the total, each) plus nuclear and hydro and a very little bit of wind and solar, after 40 years of trying. We are self sufficient in coal and natural gas. No net imports.

            I am electric = I am coal, as likely as not.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        At Volt:

        Cheap means that you went and brought an aging Chevette, what you’re doing is self-righteous patriotism all the while downplaying the free market.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr Imperial

        Whoa there, Lefty (Faux news callout? Yep, got you pegged too)

        These are my observations as to Joe Q. Public’s opinion on the Volt. I don’t necessarily agree all of them, but that’s why the Volt is not THE Next Big Thing.

        And to add, nice job “cherry picking” my post. Looks like you couldn’t wait to pick an e-fight with anyone who would DARE blaspheme against your dear mode of transportation.

        I recommend trying a less-insulting approach to honest discussion, as to why you prefer your car/why you chose to buy and drive.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Hate to rain on the parades of various conspiracy folks who love to expound on TTAC. The material probably doesn’t have a US EPA-ready MSDS sheet. That’s all. You can buy and use some really nasty industrial strength acids. Yep, they come with MSDS sheets. Nothing to see here.

    • 0 avatar
      VoltOwner

      Headline should be “EPA Regulations interfere with Battery Production, Red Tape Temporarily Shuts Down Business”.

      I still want to know what this “unregistered chemical” is.

      • 0 avatar
        That One Guy

        Or, “LG/GM surprised by 40 year old environmental law.”

        Sounds like they ran afoul of TSCA. Read up if you want: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_Substances_Control_Act_of_1976

  • avatar

    Two yrs and they couldn’t get EPA approval? That’s the story here.
    Assuming it’s the same materials used in Korea,either someone screwed the pooch at LG Chem or it’s a testament to how horrific the US Regulatory system has become.

    • 0 avatar
      Q

      I don’t think it’s that they “couldn’t,” but that they “didn’t.”

      After all, their employees were “idle” until they got their hand slapped. Perhaps this included salaried compliance staff as well as assembly line workers.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        True, but that doesn’t obviate the possibility that it’s “testament to how horrific the US Regulatory system has become.” Come up with a new compound that’s useful to any industry and it must be “approved” first by EPA under TOSCA. Even a previously used compound that isn’t on their “approved” list can’t be used until EPA investigates and gives approval. For a company with a new compound that improves a process, getting a product to market quickly, and keeping a proprietary process secret is impossible.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX (formerly gslippy)

      Sounds to me like their compliance team was asleep while the plant was getting ready to build product – pretty inexcusable, costly, and embarrassing.

      The inclusion of Obama’s role in the story isn’t relevant except to inflame those of us in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Credit to GM trying to keep something built in the US, but shortly afterwards we see why production isn’t the same here as what it used to be.

    As a petrol head I say stuff the batteries, what good are hybrids when they take so many resources to make? Companies are more than welcome to make hybrids “the norm” once they build batteries that last more than a couple of years and fine a more efficient means of making them.

    Yes I’m a free marketeer, I’m also a greedy evil curly mustached capitalist.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Hybrid batteries only last a couple of years?

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        10 If maintained right I believe but I could be wrong, doesn’t hold up to good ol’ internal combustion.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          >> 10 If maintained right I believe but I could be wrong, doesn’t hold up to good ol’ internal combustion.

          What about those new 8 and 9 speed transmissions? Do you think overhauling one of those is going to be cheaper than a battery replacement on a Toyota Hybrid?

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Overhauling an 8-9 speed transmission might cost more, but its easier to dispose of a few broken gears than a hybrid battery.

            I should note that I’m personally not a fan of 8-9 gear transmissions, they’re perfectly fine on a high end exotic but a bit unnecessary on a cheap Dart.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Time will tell as the economies of scale and aftermarket expand for both.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Does anyone know when this “free market” is going to start?

    The rules are rigged against any real free market, so how can you say it works if it doesn’t exist pretty much anywhere?

    Look the Texas car dealers trying to close down Tesla.

    The free market has been dead for a long time?


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