U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday attended a groundbreaking ceremony at an electric-vehicle battery factory, a subsidiary of South Korea's LG Chem Ltd., to promote the development of clean energy technology and a controversial economic stimulus program, Yonhap News reported.
Speaking at the ceremony at Compact Power Inc. in Holland, Michigan, Obama said the factory, which received a $151 million stimulus grant, will allow Americans to use American vehicles equipped with U.S-made electric-car batteries.
"The workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they will also be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up," Obama said, according to a transcript released by the White House.
"That means that by 2012, the batteries will be manufactured in Holland, Michigan, instead of South Korea. So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped 'Made in America' -- just like the car."
Since his 2008 campaign, Obama has repeatedly talked about the need to catch up with advanced lithium-ion battery technology in South Korea and Japan.
South Korea earlier this week announced plans to invest up to 15 trillion won (US$12.5 billion) in rechargeable batteries in the coming decade.
South Korean, Japanese and Chinese companies control 95 percent of the global rechargeable batteries market, with Japan's Sanyo at 20 percent and South Korea's Samsung SDI Co. and LG Chem Ltd. at 19 percent each. The global market is expected to grow to US$77.9 billion by 2020 from the current $12.3 billion.
The Compact Power plant is the ninth new advanced battery factory to start construction as a result of $2.4 billion in Recovery Act awards the president announced last August, the White House said in a statement.
"The project is expected to create hundreds of construction and manufacturing jobs in Holland," it said. "Once fully operational, the Compact factory will produce battery cells to support 53,000 Chevy Volts a year."
|U.S. President Barack Obama sits in an electric Ford Focus following a groundbreaking ceremony for Compact Power's new advanced battery factory in Holland, Michigan on July 15.|
|U.S. President Obama greets LG Chem Chairman Koo Bon-moo (L) and Vice Chairman and CEO of LG Chem Kim Bahn-suk (R) as he attends the groundbreaking of the factory.|
|Obama greets workers during a groundbreaking ceremony.|
|Obama is greeted by LG Group chairman Koo Bon-moo during a groundbreaking ceremony. (LG Chem)|