Shortly after it resumed production of the BrightDrop Zevo 600 and BrightDrop Zevo 400, GM subsidiary BrightDrop is once again being forced to idle its GM CAMI Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada as a result of supply issues.
This time, the production of the BrightDrop battery electric vans is expected to stop entirely from October through spring 2024 at the CAMI facility, according to a report by The Detroit News.
A shortage of the necessary battery packs for the BrightDrop Zevo vans is once again the cause of the CAMI production freeze according to statements by the company. GM spokesperson Maria Violette said that the automaker anticipates BrightDrop Zevo production to “resume in the spring of 2024, supported by the launch of CAMI’s new battery-module line.”
Violette further pointed out the new battery facility will provide “capacity to fully support BrightDrop production at CAMI and supplement EV production at other GM plants.” As GM Authority previously reported, GM is currently adding 400,000 square feet of battery production space at its CAMI facility, and the new section is expected to start operations in Q2 2024.
GM CEO Mary Barra recently stated that production of all GM EVs, not just the BrightDrop vans, is being slowed by lack of sufficient Ultium battery units. During GM’s Q2 2023 earnings conference call, she remarked that a supplier of automated battery production equipment had failed to deliver, thereby creating a bottleneck that prevented increased EV production. GM has sent manufacturing engineering teams to this third party supplier in an effort to accelerate delivery of the needed equipment.
The upcoming BrightDrop production halt is just the latest in a series of manufacturing disruptions that have plagued the GM subsidiary, though it is longer than most. A two-week production stoppage took place in the second half of July as battery module supply again proved insufficient to keep the assembly line running.
Before that, the GM CAMI Assembly facility ran below capacity for months, with the plant operating on rotating shifts with two weeks on and four weeks off. With back pay often unavailable due to bureaucratic red tape and government Employment Insurance (EI) payments already exhausted during the plant’s seven-month-long retooling to make BrightDrop vehicles, many employees were forced to rely on charity from their fellow workers or obtain food from food banks while awaiting the resumption of full-time paying work.
Meanwhile, the BrightDrop Zevo van series has been well-received by commercial customers, with GM reporting a backlog of approximately four years’ worth of orders on its books. It’s unknown at the moment whether the extended production halt at CAMI will alter the timetable on BrightDrop’s plans to open 19 North American sales and service centers for its light commercial vehicles by mid-2024.