It is not the best time to be a company named General Motors, as the automaker is in the middle of one of the biggest and most publicized vehicle recalls in the industry. The American company is fixing an issue with its popular Bolt series batteries. To be able to do this faster, the GM decided to pause the production of new units. However, it seems there is a timeline for when production will resume.
Production may resume in the last week, according to a statement by a company spokesperson. “GM has notified employees at Orion Assembly the plant will extend downtime through the week of Jan. 24, 2022, to continue prioritizing recall repairs. We will continue to inform employees at the appropriate time of any additional production schedule adjustments as we continue to focus on battery module replacements.”
GM’s Chevy Bolt, a mainstay of GM’s electrification effort, required a massive recall to replace the battery packs, some of which could be defective and cause fires, putting lives and properties at risk. The batteries were supplied by LG Chem, a long-time battery partner.
The recall affected about 140,000 units, which could anger many customers and even put them off the brand during their future purchases. To ensure there is no repeat of this fiasco, GM has to convince itself that everything is in order before resuming production.
GM had tried to stave off fires with an update to its software running on the units produced between 2017 and 2019. But when it did not work, GM started a recall in July but extended the recall to newer models when they also caught fire.
GM’s Orion plant has been almost completely shut down since the recall started. It ran limited production for courtesy cars for customers whose cars are being worked on.
The recall is expensive, embarrassing, and time-consuming for GM, who has gone all-in with electric vehicles, and it would like to put the episode behind it as fast as possible.
GM announced it had found a solution to the battery problem and battery production would resume.
However, it seems GM will only have to deal with the shame, wasted time, and possibly loss of goodwill, as LG Chem has agreed to foot the bulk of the bill for the recall. The hefty bill will likely run into $2 billion. Of that cost, LG will be responsible for about $1.9 billion, leaving GM with ‘only’ $100 million.
Technically, it is GM’s business at risk, at least directly. But LG has an incentive to pay as the Asian company is in line to supply the Ultium batteries GM wants to put in its electric vehicles of the future. Given the big way GM is going about electric vehicles, the contract means billions of dollars in revenue for LG.
The pause in production is significant for GM, as it means it has no electric vehicle on sale currently in the US. Also, GM is not only replacing the battery; it is also updating the software to improve the diagnostic tools, limit charging, and remove suggested parking restrictions.
If you are affected, you can find more information on the recall here on GM’s website.
GM had revealed its plans to increase its revenue by the end of the decade and wrestle market share Tesla, the undisputed leader in electric vehicles. Its plan includes releasing 30 new electric models by 2025 across its brands. Some of those it has announced include the Hummer EV truck and SUV, which are based on the discontinued gas-powered Hummer vehicles of the ’90s, the F-150 Lightning, which again is the electrification of its popular gas pickup truck. GM has also announced the battery-powered Cadillac Lyric.
GM will start delivering the Hummer EV truck to customers this December.
GM is not the first company to deal with battery fire problems on a large scale. Back in 2017, Samsung had to recall its Galaxy Note 7 when the phones caught fire due to faults with the batteries. It posed a fire risk for flights, and Samsung faced a hefty $5.3 billion bill to make the issue go away. Samsung tended an apology and has since moved on.