GM to bring back Bolt production after months-long shutdown

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. will bring back production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV the week of April 4 after a months-long shutdown as it worked through a recall on the products, the automaker told employees Tuesday.

GM in August recalled more than 141,000 Bolts for battery fire risk and has kept the Orion Assembly plant in Lake Orion mostly down since then while it prioritized new batteries for the recalled Bolts. GM dealers have been replacing battery modules on Bolts since last fall

"We appreciate the patience customers have shown throughout the recall. While continuing to complete module replacements, GM will resume production at its Orion Township, MI, plant the week of April 4, 2022," GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement. "We remain committed to Bolt EV and EUV and this decision will allow us to simultaneously replace battery modules and resume retail sales soon, which were strong before the recall."

GM wouldn't specify how many battery modules it has replaced so far, but Flores said: "We’re continuing to complete more replacements each day. As a result of this progress and our supplier’s ability to provide more module production, we feel confident we can balance replacements along with new retail production."

A stop sale on the Bolts remains in place but dealers can sell the new Bolts that arrive after the production restart on April 4. The recalled vehicles on dealer lots will have to have their battery modules replaced before they are sold.

The Detroit automaker recalled the Bolts, its only electric products at the time, while in the midst of an EV transition. GM aspires to have a zero-emissions lineup by 2035 and wants to deliver 400,000 EVs in North America by the end of 2023. 

Since an initial recall on certain model year Bolts in November 2020, GM has confirmed 18 Bolt battery fires globally. There have been minor injuries and no deaths. GM and battery supplier LG Energy Solution discovered two "rare" manufacturing defects, a torn anode tab and folded separator, as the root cause of the fires. LG's affiliate company, LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea, agreed to let GM recover $1.9 billion for the battery fire risk recall. The cost of the recall is estimated at $2 billion.

The reopening news comes after GM last month announced it would invest $4 billion into the Orion plant to build electric trucks there starting in 2024. The investment should create more than 2,350 new jobs at Orion and retain about 1,000 jobs when the plant is fully operational. The automaker estimates the new jobs at Orion will be filled by a combination of GM transferees and new hires.

GM plans to bring some employees back to Orion the week of March 21 for training to support production of the Bolt-based Cruise autonomous vehicles, according to an alert sent to employees Tuesday.