The automaker halted the production line at its Lake Orion Assembly plant in Michigan on Monday, August 23rd and intended to restart production of the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV at the facility on September 13th. GM spokesman Dan Flores told The Detroit Free Press the automaker will now keep the plant on hold until it can identify the source of the battery pack fires, which have forced the automaker to recall thousands of Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV models from the 2017 to 2022 model years. It has also temporarily laid off all workers at Orion Assembly for the time being as a result.
“If we took the battery stock that’s in the field right now or at a warehouse, we’re not confident that it is defect-free,” Flores told the Free Press this week. “Because we are not confident that LG has the capability to build defect-free products, we’ve put the repairs on hold and we are not building new Bolts. We’re not going to start recall repairs or start building new Bolts until we’re confident LG will build defect-free products.”
Battery cells for the Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV are produced by LG Energy Solution Michigan Inc. at a facility in Holland, Michigan. The Free Press reports GM engineers have been present at the facility in recent weeks, monitoring LG Energy Solution’s production processes and tearing down battery packs in an effort to identify the cause of the faulty battery packs. The fires are believed to be caused when one of the battery’s cells has a torn anode tab and folded separator, although it’s not clear how this manufacturing defect comes to be during the production process.
GM partnered with LG Chem on its next-generation Ultium battery packs, forming a joint venture with the Korean battery supplier called Ultium Cells LLC, which will operate battery plants in North America. The LG Chem partnership is therefore important to GM – although the Free Press reports the automaker will be going after the company for the $1.8 billion it will spend to remedy the battery fires. Flores said the reimbursement conversations “are being handled by the appropriate leaders at both companies.”
GM will replace the battery pack in affected vehicles as part of the recall campaign. The automaker is also working on software for dealer technicians that will allow them to diagnose a vehicle with a torn tab/folded separator without having to tear it down.