General Motors Corp. selects South Korea's LG Chem Ltd. and its Compact Power Inc. subsidiary in Troy, MI, to supply lithium-ion cells for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.

GM also will locate a plant in Michigan to assemble the cells into the t-shaped battery pack for the Volt, pending the approval of state incentives.

“GM is back in the battery business,” says GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, in reference to the auto maker's EV1 electric vehicle from 1996.

GM has not determined an exact site for the plant, but Gary Cowger, group vice president-manufacturing and labor relations, hints at the Southeast region, near the Volt's assembly facility.

“We're building the Volt at Hamtramck (a Detroit suburb), so it makes sense to put (the battery facility) in Michigan for logistical reasons,” he says. “The state also put together a good (incentives) package.”

Given the region's strong organized labor background, the plant likely will be staffed with United Auto Workers union members, but Cowger says it's too early to give specifics about the workforce.

GM will begin preparing the site in the coming months and anticipates adding production tooling at mid-year, with output starting in 2010.

The auto maker wants to bring the Volt to market by the end of 2010 as an '11 model. GM already is building a plant in Flint, MI, to supply the Volt with its range-extending, 1.4L internal-combustion engine.