General Motors Corp. will assemble battery packs for its new rechargeable electric car at a facility south of Detroit, creating about 100 jobs, a person briefed on the plans said Friday.
The new factory off Interstate 75 in Brownstown Township, about 15 miles south of Detroit, will take batteries made by LG Chem in South Korea and assemble them into packs that will power the new Chevrolet Volt, said the person, who requested anonymity because GM hasn't officially announced the plant site.
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 tiny enclave of Hamtramck. That plant now makes the slow-selling Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS full-size sedans.
GM says the car will be able to travel 40 miles on a charge from a home electrical outlet, with a small gasoline engine to generate power after that.
The person said GM will invest $43 million in an existing building to assemble the packs of batteries, which will be flown to the U.S. from Korea. GM officials have said that the Detroit area was the front-runner for the battery pack factory because it has to be close to the Volt assembly plant.
The battery pack factory will be highly automated and won't employ a huge number of people, but it will be able to weld the battery packs together quickly, GM officials have said.
Even 100 jobs, though, is good news for Michigan, which led the nation with a 15.2 percent unemployment rate in June, the highest monthly mark since the spring of 1983. Michigan has had the nation's highest annual average unemployment rate since 2006.
LG Chem CEO Peter Kim has said the company may eventually build cells in Michigan, and it anticipates that its U.S. subsidiary, Compact Power Inc., will add to its 100-person work force in nearby Troy.
The Volt is expected to cost $35,000 to $40,000. GM already is testing the vehicles at its technical center in Warren, Mich.
The site of the new plant was reported Friday by The Detroit News.