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GM announces battery plant opening

General Motors President and CEO, Fritz Henderson (left) answers questions from the media during a Thursday news conference in which he announced the opening of a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Brownstown, Mich. The 160,000 square-foot facility will provide more than 100 advanced technology jobs.  AP Photo by Jerry S. Mendoza

General Motors President and CEO, Fritz Henderson (left) answers questions from the media during a Thursday news conference in which he announced the opening of a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Brownstown, Mich. The 160,000 square-foot facility will provide more than 100 advanced technology jobs. AP Photo by Jerry S. Mendoza

David N. Goodman
AP Writer

Brownstown Township, MI. — General Motors Co. chief Fritz Henderson says a new $43 million plant in Michigan will let GM workers assemble battery packs for the company’s upcoming rechargeable electric car.

GM’s president and chief executive held a news conference Thursday morning at the plant site in Brownstown Township, 20 miles southwest of Detroit. Production will start in the fourth quarter of 2010, employing about 100 people, according to GM.

“Developing and producing advanced batteries is a key step in GM’s journey to become the leader in advanced vehicles,” Henderson said.

Most automakers are working on similar designs, but GM would offer the first mainstream plug-in with the Chevrolet Volt.

The Volt can run on batteries alone within a 40-mile range. It has a small internal-combustion engine that kicks in after the battery runs out of juice.

The Volt’s battery pack can be recharged from a standard home outlet.

The announcement ceremony took on the air of a Michigan pep rally, with Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and veteran Democratic U.S. Reps. John Dingell and Sandy Levin touting the plant and the Volt as keys to the state’s drive to revive its hard-hit economy.

“As we put the nation on wheels, we are now going to help wean the nation off oil,” Carl Levin said.

A 12-year, 50-percent personal property tax abatement from Brownstown was only part of a government support package topping $100 million for GM’s electric car program.

Government and industry “are not enemies,” Sandy Levin said. “This shows what happens when we work together.”

Whether buyers will go for plug-in electric vehicles remains uncertain, according to a new report by the forecasting company IHS Global Insight.

“Hurdles include cost considerations and ‘charge anxiety’ — consumers want to plug in and top off the battery whenever the vehicle is parked, day or night,” according to the report.

The Volt, due in showrooms by November of 2010, will be built at an existing GM factory that straddles the border between Detroit and the enclave of Hamtramck.

GM reported this week it expects the $40,000 Volt to get 230 mpg in the city, based on early tests using draft guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for calculating mileage of extended-range electric vehicles.

Henderson said the cost of its electric vehicles will fall with volume and technical progress.

One comment

  1. I wonder if our ,missing in action…when it matters, Gov. Doyle even made a pitch for this plant operation. Maybe he was in spain shopping for more choo choo’s.

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