Despite the movement towards electric and hybrid propulsion by many manufacturers over the last few years, none of them actually manufacture the most important component of the vehicles – the batteries. That’s about to change as GM builds its own factory in Michigan to produce battery packs for its crucial Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010. Construction is expected to begin early this year and expected to reach full output by mid-2010.

General Motors will work with LG Chem, who will supply the individual lithium-ion cells and these will then be assembled along with other battery electronics and components to produce the Volt’s 16 kWh T-shaped battery, which is roughly 6 feet long and weighs nearly 400 pounds,

The production of battery components locally is important according to GM CEO Rick Wagoner. "Our announcements are part of a comprehensive advanced battery strategy for GM that is expanding along two pathways," Wagoner said. "First, we're identifying core competencies - such as battery research, development and assembly - and integrating these fundamentals into our product development and manufacturing operations. We believe this will become a competitive advantage for GM, and will be critical to GM's long-term success. Secondly, we're building a roster of battery suppliers and academic experts from around the globe, and leveraging their specialized abilities to develop battery chemistries and cell designs, as well as future automotive battery engineers."

LG Chem has been working with GM on the Volt project for the past 16 months and supplies the batteries used in the prototypes.

Despite widespread speculation that GM will not be able to bring the Volt to market by late 2010, like it has promised, this announcement comes as further evidence that they are aware of the challenges and working towards that goal.