GM extends shutdown of Chevy Bolt production as it investigates battery fix

By Jamie L. LaReau

General Motors will idle production of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles for an additional two weeks as it investigates a battery defect that poses a fire risk in the cars.

On Aug. 20, GM issued a global recall on the cars made at Orion Assembly in Orion Township. It idled the plant on Aug. 23 and expected to restart production Monday. About 1,000 hourly workers there make the Bolt EV and EUV, a subcompact electric SUV, as well as Cruise Origin self-driving test cars.

In a statement Thursday, GM spokesman David Barnas said the plant would remain down until Sept. 27 due to a battery pack shortage related to the Aug. 20 Bolt recall of all 2017-22 model year vehicles. That recall was an extension to the second recall on the Bolts for fire risk.

Workers will get about 75-80% of their pay, per the UAW contract, during the shutdown.

GM continues to work with its battery maker LG Chem to investigate what caused manufacturing defects that resulted in at least a dozen Bolts catching fire since the middle of last year. There have been no serious injuries. The automaker has said it will not start repairs on the nearly 141,000 recalled Bolts until it is confident LG Chem can make a defect-free battery.

Separately, GM said Thursday it will restart production of its full-size light duty pickups at Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana and Silao Assembly in Mexico on Monday. The plants were idled this week after being impacted by the global semiconductor chip shortage.

The chips are used in a variety of car parts and the shortage has forced all carmakers to idle plants, reduce shifts or partially build vehicles until more chips are available.

The chips are also used in small electronics. As more workers and children stayed home from work and school last year during the pandemic, demand for personal electronics rose, creating the shortage.

Other changes to GM production due to the shortage include idling production at Lansing Grand River Assembly until Sept. 27. The plant had been doing some production of the Cadillac Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro sports cars.

Lansing Delta Township, which was due to restart Sept. 20, will remain idle until Sept. 27. GM makes the Chevrolet Traverse and the Buick Enclave midsize SUVs at the plant which has been down since July 19.

Also idled until Sept. 27: Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, where GM makes the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups and Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. It went down for the first time this week. GM will take an added down week for production of its Chevy Blazer SUV at Ramos Assembly in Mexico. Since mid-August, production of the Chevy Equinox and Blazer at Ramos have been periodically impacted by the shortage.

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