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GM extends shutdown of Bolt EV production amid recall and battery fires


Signage stands on display outside the General Motors Co. Orion Assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan, U.S., on Friday, March 22, 2019.

Jeff Kowalsky | Bloomberg | Getty Images

DETROIT — General Motors is extending downtime at a Michigan plant that produces its Chevrolet Bolt EV as it works with battery supplier LG Chem to fix manufacturing defects that cause some cars to catch fire, leading to a massive recall to fix the problem.

The Detroit automaker Thursday said Orion Assembly will be down the weeks of Sept. 13 and Sept. 20. The plant has been shuttered since Aug. 23 as a result of a battery pack shortage related to the recall.

A GM spokesman Thursday confirmed officials continue to work with LG Chem to rectify the issues and increase production of the new modules.

The manufacturing problems occurred at LG Battery Solution’s plants in South Korea and Michigan. GM said the issues involve two “rare manufacturing defects” — a torn anode tab and folded separator — that when present in the same battery cell increase the risk of fire.

The automaker has confirmed fires in at least 12 vehicles. The automaker asked owners last month to change settings on the vehicles to reduce the fire risk as part of the recall. One of the most recent fires reportedly occurred last week involving a 2017 Bolt EV that was parked in Sacramento, Calif. 

GM last month expanded an initial recall of select model years to all Bolt EVs, including a recently released larger version of the car known as the Bolt EUV. The automaker expects to spend about $1.8 billion to replace potentially defective battery modules in the vehicles.

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GM said it is pursuing reimbursement commitments from LG Chem.

The Vermont State Police released this photo of the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV that caught fire on July 1, 2021 in the driveway of state Rep. Timothy Briglin, a Democrat.

Vermont State Police

The additional downtime at Orion Assembly was included as part of a production update Thursday by GM regarding the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips. The parts shortage has caused automakers to sporadically cut vehicle production globally throughout this year.

As part of the update, GM confirmed production of its full-size pickups will return to normal next week following a week of downtime. It also extended downtimes previously announced downtimes at plants in Michigan, Missouri and Mexico, while confirming plans to restart production at other facilities later this month.

GM expects the parts problem to cut its North American vehicle production by about 100,000 vehicles during the second half of the year compared with the first six months. The company does not release production data, but it sold about 1.3 million vehicles during the first half of the year in North America.



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