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EnerDel to Build Third EV Battery Plant in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana--EnerDel, Volvo's battery partner for the all-electric C30, said here today that it will invest $237 million in a new plant in the suburban Hancock County town of Mount Comfort.

With Governor Mitch Daniels on the podium, Ener1 CEO Charles Gassenheimer said that the new plant (which will be oriented to coating electrodes on the cell level) will employ 1,400 people when it is completed in 24 months. The plant will become a reality thanks in part to state and local tax incentives worth some $70 million, as well as EnerDel's $118.5 million grant through the federal stimulus package. In five years, Gassenheimer said, the company wants to be producing packs for 120,000 EVs a year.

In an interview, Governor Daniels said he was determined to make Indiana a leader in EV production. I mentioned that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm had expressed a similar ambition to me recently. "She can try," Daniels said. "But their taxes are significantly higher, and their business climate dramatically worse. Their unemployment is six points higher, too."

Indiana now has four Japanese auto plants from Honda, Toyota and Subaru, the governor said, which compensate in some ways for the dramatic loss of Big Three employment in the state.

Daniels said he was an old-time internal combustion guy, with three Corvettes in his past. But he recently drove a Think City (which, it was recently announced, will be produced in Elkhart, in the northern part of the state) and a Tesla Roadster, which he praised for "instant acceleration."

The Volvo C30 was shown today, its third world outing (although not in driveable form). The C30 is headed for production, said Volvo executives here, though initially only in Europe. A plug-in hybrid is also scheduled to hit the roads in Europe. Volvo will be one of EnerDel's prime customers for its expanded battery capacity.