General Motors confirmed today that its Orion assembly plant, where the Bolt EV is made, will remain idle until at least September 24. The company is still working with supplier LG Chem to find a solution to the battery design flaws that led to a global recall of the Bolt EV, as well as of its recently introduced SUV variant, the Bolt EUV.
The automaker has already announced that it will not produce new units or replace defective batteries in existing models until it is certain that the batteries supplied by LG Chem are flawless. GM must at all costs avoid a repeat of the random fire episodes caused by LG Chem's defective components. The problem has cost the company nearly $1 billion so far.
That’s a bill that GM will certainly not pay on its own, it’s safe to say.
As for the shutdown at the Orion plant, it would be surprising if operations resume on September 25, given GM's lack of confidence in its battery supplier. LG Chem will really have to prove to the automotive giant that it can supply batteries that perform impeccably… and safely.
Recall that two distinct problems were identified with LG Chem’s units, and that the risk of fire was greater when the two glitches were present inside the same battery. Investigators also noted that the fires occurred when the car's charge was almost full, which led GM to recommend to owners not to charge their car to more than 90 percent of capacity.
Owners were also advised to park their Bolt outside. In fact, similar recommendations are being applied in certain public places, such as, recently, in a parking lot in San Francisco.
Some owners even had their cars recalled twice, because the solution they thought they had found in the first campaign had not solved the problem. GM is desperate not to have to go through a third recall for the same problem.
Clearly GM isn’t out of the woods with its Bolt problem, and it’s the kind of situation that could theoretically spell doom for the model and hobble the automaker’s electrification efforts.