[ad#post_ad]President Obama visited Holland Michigan on Thursday to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony of the new LG Chem battery plant. This plant was funded in part by a DOE stimulus grant of $151 million with a matching $151 million provided by LG Chem. Once fully operational in 2012, the plant will be capable of producing enough cells for 200,000 hybrids and electric cars, and will specifically be making the cells both for the Chevrolet Volt and the upcoming Ford Focus Electric, expected to go on sale in 2011.

"This is about more than just building a new factory," said Obama. "It’s about building a better future for this city, for this state, and for this country."

The Obama administration has pledged a goal of putting 1 million electric cars on US roads by 2015. So far the Recovery Act has contributed $2.5 billion towards United States electric car battery and component plants, 26 of which are already in some stage of construction. Nine of these are battery plants, including ones from A123 Systems and Johnson Controls. These facilities can collectively expect to produce 500,000 electric cars annually, and are expected to help transform Michigan into the electric car battery capital of the country.

The 650,000 square foot LG Chem plant is expected to produce 300 jobs.

"The workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they’re also going to be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus as soon as this operation gears up," said Obama. "That means that by 2012, the batteries will be manufactured here in Holland, Michigan. So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped “Made in America” -– just like the car."

Obama also predicted that all this investment in electrification of the automobile, will lead to more affordable electric cars in the future.

"Because of advances in the manufacture of these batteries, their costs are expected to come down by nearly 70 percent in the next few years," he said. "That’s going to make electric and hybrid cars and trucks more affordable for more Americans."

"It also means we’re going to be less dependent on foreign oil," he added.

During the event, Obama got to check out and sit in both the Ford Focus Electric and for the first time, the Chevrolet Volt.

We have come a very, very long way from January 2007.