Study shows Holland is the 'battery capital of North America,' says economic development official

Posted on March 27, 2012

LG Chem of South Korea and Johnson Controls Inc., two companies that make lithium ion batteries for electrical vehicles in Holland, were ranked at the top of the heap by a recent study of the emerging industry .

“That makes us the battery capital of North America,” said Randy Thelen, president of Lakeshore Advantage, the economic development outfit that helped bring LG Chem Ltd. of South Korea and Johnson Controls Inc. to Holland.

“In no place else in the country have you seen more production and more investment in the battery industry than right here,” Thelen said. “That bodes very well for where we’re headed.”

Of the 10 global companies studied by Pike Research LLC, LG Chem was the only producer to achieve “leader” status while Johnson Controls was the leader in the “contenders” category.

“LG Chem was ranked highest in both the strategy and execution categories,” the study said. “The company has a diversified customer base of international OEMs that are expected to be the most successful sellers of hybrids and plug-in vehicles.”

Companies in the “contender” category have established relationships with large automakers and “could quickly rise in the rankings by expanding their market share,” the study said.

The two companies, which started production in new factories on Holland’s south side last year, also are creating a supplier base of 14 new and existing companies, Thelen said. The fledgling industry employs about 400, he said.

Courtesy renderingThe Pike Research report ranks Holland’s two battery producers at the top of its rankings.

LG Chem produces batteries for the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Focus EV through its wholly owned subsidiary, Compact Power, Inc., according to a recent article by Automotive News,

According to Johnson Controls, about 100 employees produce lithium ion batteries for the following vehicles from its Holland Meadowbrook plant:
• Ford Transit Connect Electric
• Azure Dynamics Balance™ Hybrid
• Azure Dynamics BalancePLUS Plug-in Hybrid
• Mercedes-Benz S400 HYBRID
• BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid
• Odyne PHEV heavy duty vehicles

“. Meadowbrook is the first facility in the country to produce complete Lithium-Ion battery cells and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles for U.S. automakers,” said Johnson Controls spokeswoman Gretchen Bartelt.

Pike Research studied the global market for lithium ion batteries, the emerging standard for electric-powered vehicles. The study evaluated the producers on their vision, their market strategy, their partners, their ability to produce batteries and their staying power.

“Battery supplier relationships are expected to evolve over time,” the study concluded.
Some of the automotive companies are likely to shift suppliers as the market “better understands the performance characteristics and longevity of the various battery makers and chemistries.”

By Jim Harger, MLive