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Thursday, January 07, 2010

U.S Swaps Mideast Oil for Asian Technology: GM's Battery-Run Chevy Volt Uses S. Korean Jolt

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Ohio has invested millions in its Third Frontier program looking for cutting edge tech to revive its auto industry. It might have to wave sayonara. When the new factory to build lithium-ion battery power packs for GM's Chevy Volt electric car opened today on Interstate 75 south of Detroit, the alternative energy source came with South Korean roots. Compact Power Inc., the American unit of Korean battery maker LG Chem, suppplies the batteries. Yes, the Asians are at the forefront of the movement for fuel-efficient electric vehicles. Going green means exporting more greenbacks. As Alisa Priddle notes in the Jan. 7, 2010 Detroit News:

"LG Chem makes the battery cells that will power the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended range electric cars, as well as future GM vehicles requiring batteries."

LG says on its website that it's a $14 billion industrial giant:

"LG Chem Ltd. is one of the world's largest producers of advanced chemicals and materials in and a leading supplier of lithium-ion batteries. The $14 billion, Korea-based company employs over 14,000 people worldwide and comprises three primary businesses: chemicals and polymers, industrial materials, and information and electronic materials. Lithium-ion batteries are part of LG Chem's Information and Electronic Materials business and have been identified as a primary growth area for the company. In fact, investment in lithium-ion batteries has grown five-fold over the past seven years.

"As a recognized leader in the development and production of
lithium-ion batteries, LG Chem provides expertise, synergies and a respected global brand that adds value to CPI's mission to become the supplier of choice for lithium-ion batteries."

Up in Michigan, Wizardkitten is encouraged that some new jobs have arrived in the Midwest after battery production started today. There is a case to be made that foreign investment is a good thing in this global economy. But wouldn't it be better if a U.S. company was behind the batteries that are supposed to bring us a green economy.

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