Exactly three years since the day the Chevrolet Volt concept car debuted, General Motors (GM) recently manufactured the first advanced lithium-ion battery for a mass-marketed electric vehicle at GM’s Brownstown Battery Pack Assembly Plant.
"This is an important milestone for GM and a critical step in bringing the Chevrolet Volt to market," said GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre.
GM announced last August a $43 million investment to prepare the 160,000-square-foot, landfill-free facility for production of lithium-ion battery packs for the Volt and other electric vehicles with extended-range capabilities. The plant is part of a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors called GM Subsystems Manufacturing LLC.
In just five months, the Brownstown plant was converted from an empty facility to a production-ready battery manufacturing site. New machinery and specialized equipment have been installed and three primary assembly areas have been completed: battery module pre-assembly, final assembly and the battery pack main line.
Initial battery production at Brownstown will be used to validate the plant’s equipment and processes, and batteries will be sent to GM’s Global Battery Systems lab in Warren, MI, for testing. This spring, GM will begin shipping batteries to GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the assembly location for the Volt, for use in production validation vehicles.
Regular production at Brownstown and Detroit-Hamtramck is set to begin in the fourth quarter.
GM is investing $700 million in eight Michigan facilities for Volt-related production, including $336 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which will benefit from battery research conducted at the battery lab in Warren; receive batteries from Brownstown; use tooling from Grand Blanc; take delivery of camshafts and connecting rods from Bay City; and dies, stampings and the Volt’s 1.4L engine-generator from three plants in Flint.
"The development of electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt is creating entire new sectors in the auto industry an ‘ecosystem’ of battery developers and recyclers, builders of home and commercial charging stations, electric motor suppliers and much more," Whitacre said. "These companies and universities are creating new jobs in Michigan and across the U.S. green jobs and they’re doing it by developing new technology, establishing new manufacturing capability, and strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness."