DETROIT -- A battery-pack assembly plant being built here offers the clearest indication yet of the sales potential General Motors Co. sees for its plug-in hybrids: about 70,000 units a year.
The $43 million plant, south of Detroit, will assemble individual batteries from South Korea's LG Chem Ltd. into 70,000 packs a year at full production for the Chevrolet Volt and other plug-in hybrids. Each pack will have 220 cells and is estimated to cost $8,000.
Most of the packs will be used in the Volt, which is scheduled to start production in November 2010. But GM also plans other vehicles that use the Volt's powertrain, as well as other vehicles that feature plug-in capability.
After the plant's dedication last week, GM CEO Fritz Henderson told reporters that not all of the manufacturing facilities needed to produce the components for the plug-in hybrid Volt sedan are in place yet. But he declined to say when or where the additional Volt parts would be produced.
Earlier in the week, at a press preview of future GM vehicles, product development chief Tom Stephens told Automotive News that GM will design, develop and manufacture its own electric motors for its hybrids and electric vehicles.
Robert Kruse, GM's executive director of global vehicle engineering for hybrids and electric vehicles, said the electric motor plant will be in the Baltimore transmission factory that currently makes the Two Mode hybrid transmission used in GM's big pickups and SUVs. The first application of GM's own electric motors will likely be in the next generation of the Two Mode hybrid transmission, due out around 2012.
It's not clear when the Volt will get an electric motor designed and made by GM. But parts from the car will be made in many places.
GM plans to build the Volt's gasoline engine in Flint, Mich. The Volt's body and chassis will be made in GM's Detroit Hamtramck plant.