Electric Vehicles, Advanced Batteries, and American Jobs: Another Piece of the Puzzle in Holland, Michigan

It’s a small part of a big story that will impact how the world travels for generations to come – and the role American workers will have in that transformation.

This afternoon the President is at a groundbreaking ceremony at Compact Power, Inc. a subsidiary of LG Chem Ltd., a battery plant in Holland, Michigan. The plant is yet another piece of the puzzle for turning electric vehicles from a dream that many presumed dead into a reality that we will all one day take for granted.  The plant is the ninth of nine new advanced battery factories to start construction as a result of the $2.4 billion in Recovery Act advanced battery and electric vehicle awards the President announced last August.  The project is expected to create hundreds of construction and manufacturing jobs in Holland.  Once fully operational, the Compact factory will produce battery cells to support 53,000 Chevy Volts a year. 

Yesterday the Department of Energy released a new report on the economic impact of Recovery Act investments in advanced batteries and vehicles. The report, “Recovery Act Investments: Transforming America’s Transportation Sector,” documents how Recovery Act funds are being matched with private capital to create new jobs, construct new plants, add new manufacturing lines, install electric vehicle charging stations across the country and help build the emerging domestic electric vehicle industry from the ground up.

Here are a few highlights from the release yesterday:

For every dollar of the $2.4 billion in seed money the government provided through the Recovery Act advanced battery and electric vehicle grants, the companies have matched it at minimum dollar for dollar.

Pre-Recovery Act, the U.S. produced just 2 percent of the world’s batteries for advanced vehicles, but due to Recovery Act investments, the U.S. will have the capacity to produce 20 percent of these batteries by 2012 and up to 40 percent by 2015 - that’s a jump from 2 percent to 40 percent in a span of just five years.

Nine of the nine new battery plants opening as a result of Recovery Act investments will have started construction by Thursday – and four of those will be operational by the end of the year.  In addition, twenty-one other plants will make battery or electric vehicle components with the help of Recovery Act grants.

Before the Recovery Act, high battery costs meant a car with a 100 mile range would need a battery that cost $33,000.  But because of the higher-volume domestic manufacturing the Recovery Act is spurring, the cost of such a battery could come down to $16,000 by the end of 2013 and $10,000 by the end of 2015, dramatically driving down the cost of an electric vehicle and greatly expanding the domestic market.

Before the Recovery Act, there were less than 500 electric vehicle charging locations in the U.S., but as a result of Recovery Act investments, there will be over 20,000 by 2012.

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