LG Chem Extends Furloughs In Michigan. Domestic Battery Cell Manufacturing For Volt Delayed
LG Chem has had employees In Holland, Michigan on “rolling furloughs” since April, and it appears that will continue indefinitely.
Faced with slower growth than expected in the plug-in vehicle industry, and a second shutdown of Volt production on the horizon (which was not related to demand for the vehicle, but due to the addtion of the new Impala to the plant), LG Chem has told its employees to expect further rounds of unpaid leaves at the $303 million dollar facility to continue into the foreseeable future.
The 600,000+ square-foot, battery cell plant was expected to be fully operational by “mid 2012,” with up to 400 employees, and have the ability to produce batteries for about 200,000 hybrid and electric cars.
“The furloughs are the result of a re-timing of the start of battery cell production as the electric vehicle market develops,” the company said in a statement sent to the Holland Sentinel.
The first round of furloughs began on April 30th, and LG Chem told its employees ahead of the long weekend on Thursday that the slowdown would continue.
Currently, the plant is working on a revolving three-fourths of their regular schedule, and the furloughs involves all 200 of the plant’s workers. According to LG Chem, health care benefits programs will still be active, and employees are eligible for unemployment benefits when not at work.
As for when the plant might return to full operating mode, and begin production, the company was unsure.
“As market conditions shift, LG Chem will begin production when demand increases and will operate the plant on a full time schedule as soon as possible. That will ultimately depend on market conditions and consumer demand.”
The plant’s two largest contracts are currently with General Motors (Volt) and the Ford (Focus Electric). US fabricated cells are now not expected to be seen inside the two plug-ins until early 2013.