Exactly three years since the day the Chevrolet Volt concept car debuted, GM today 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.
The Volt’s battery pack is made up of multiple linked battery modules and more than 200 battery cells. The initial assembly area is where the prismatic-shaped cells are processed and installed by state-of-the-art flexible automated equipment into modules, which are then delivered to the battery pack main line.
The battery pack main line area features an Automated Guided Cart (ACG) system that includes operations for thermal and electrical assembly, along with quality and dimensional checks. The main line is also where battery pack final testing, verification and packaging for shipment take place.
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, Mich., 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."
In August, the U.S. Dept. of Energy selected 45 companies, universities and organizations, including GM, in 28 states for more than $2 billion in awards for electric drive and battery manufacturing and transportation electrification. Nearly half of that total is designated for cell, battery and materials manufacturing facilities in Michigan.
The Volt is an electric vehicle with extended-range capability. It is designed to drive up to 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery is depleted of energy, a flex-fuel engine-generator seamlessly operates to extend the total driving range to about 300 miles before refueling or stopping to recharge the battery. Pricing has not been announced.
General Motors will invest $336 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to begin production of the Chevrolet Volt electric car, with extended-range capabilities, in 2010.
This brings GM’s combined Volt-related investments in Michigan to $700 million, covering eight facilities. Detroit-Hamtramck will be the final assembly location for the Volt, using tooling from Grand Blanc, lithium-ion batteries from GM’s Brownstown Township battery pack manufacturing facility, camshafts and connecting rods from Bay City, and stampings and the Volt’s 1.4L engine-generator from Flint.
“We expect the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be the first facility in the U.S. owned by a major automaker to produce an electric car. It is the hub for the wheel that we began rolling in 2007 when the Volt debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit,” said Jon Lauckner, GM vice president of global product planning. “Since then, the field of challengers and partners has grown significantly. This competition will expedite the development of electric vehicle technology and infrastructure.”
After the Volt’s debut in January 2007, other automakers announced six plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles later that year, followed by 19 introductions in 2008 and five more this year.
In addition to GM’s $700 million in Volt-related facility investments, there are the many suppliers, utility companies and organizations investing in Michigan and the U.S. to support Volt production and electric vehicle development. In August, the U.S. Department of Energy selected 45 companies, universities and organizations in 28 states for more than $2 billion in awards for electric drive and battery manufacturing and transportation electrification.
“With GM leading, electric vehicle development is creating entirely new industries. These include battery developers, builders of home and commercial charging stations, and power control and electric motor suppliers,” Lauckner said. “These investments in the electric vehicle ecosystem are creating new jobs and strengthening Michigan’s and America’s long-term competitiveness.”
To reduce cost and maximize flexible manufacturing techniques, some equipment for Volt production is being reused from other GM facilities and installed in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant’s body shop. The Volt will be built on the existing assembly line at Detroit-Hamtramck. Assembly of Volt prototype vehicles will begin in the spring, with the start of regular production scheduled for late 2010.
Detroit-Hamtramck opened in 1985, and currently employs about 1,200 workers, including 1,100 hourly workers represented by UAW Local 22.
“This investment is great news for the workforce as it helps pave the way for the future and the electrification of the automobile,” said Cal Rapson, vice president and director, UAW International Union.
The Volt is an electric vehicle with extended-range capability. It is designed to drive up to 40 miles on electricity without using gasoline or producing tailpipe emissions. When the Volt’s lithium-ion battery is depleted of energy, an engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the total driving range to about 300 miles before refueling or stopping to recharge the battery. Pricing has not been announced.
General Motors, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com