DETROIT --- General Motors Co. will start assembling the first lithium-ion battery pack for its Chevrolet Volt electric car on Thursday, Jan. 7, at a ceremony attended by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, according to a report from the Detroit News

GM has attracted about $241 million in federal grants for the Volt and other alternative-fuel vehicles, including $106 million for its planned battery pack assembly factory in Brownstown Township. This will be the first such facility in the U.S. operated by a major automaker, the Detroit News reported. 

The $43 million lithium-ion battery plant is located in the Brownstown Business Center industrial park. Brownstown Township is 14 miles southwest of Detroit. 

The township has approved a 50-percent tax break on new machinery and equipment for up to 12 years. The deal is worth several million dollars. The site is near Willow Run and Detroit Metropolitan airports, where lithium-ion battery cells could be delivered from Korea. 

The battery cells will be assembled into T-shaped packs at the Brownstown plant and hauled to GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, where the Volt will be built, the Detroit News reported. 

The Volt is set to go on sale late next year. The electric car's four-cylinder engine will be manufactured at the Flint Engine South plant. GM plans to produce about 8,000 Volts for the 2011 model year. That number is expected to eventually grow to as many as 60,000 a year.