Chevy Bolt plant shutdown extended as GM, LG explore recall options

GM confirmed Thursday that its Orion Assembly facility, where the Bolt EV is built, will remain idle through at least Sept. 24 as the company continues to work with supplier LG Chem to address defects in the design that have led to a worldwide recall of GM’s small electric car, Reuters reports. 

The company has already announced that it will not go forward with production of new units (or replacements for existing vehicles) until it is completely confident that its updated packs are safe, leaning heavily on LG Chem to prove that new packs being assembled are completely free of the defect that has resulted in multiple fires and set GM back almost $1 billion so far. With GM’s lack of confidence in its supplier, it seems unlikely that the work stoppage will extend only through the end of September. 

In April, GM announced that it had developed diagnostic software to look for anomalies identified in a November recall spurred by reports of multiple battery fires. Two people suffered smoke inhalation and a house was set ablaze. GM and LG Chem together determined that batteries that caught fire were near a full state of charge. As a temporary fix, owners and dealers were told to make software changes to limit charging to 90% of a battery’s capacity. GM traced the fires to what it called at the time a rare manufacturing defect in battery modules that can cause a short in a cell, triggering a fire. 

Last month, GM expanded the original recall to cover all Bolt EVs— and also the new Bolt EUV model — sold throughout the model’s lifetime, dating back to 2017. Some owners’ cars have already been recalled twice for the same potential battery fire issue, and customers are still being urged to carefully monitor their cars’ state of charge and park them outside when possible. 

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