By on November 4, 2021

Michigan’s Orion Assembly will be taking three weeks of downtime this month as General Motors continues addressing the fire recall pertaining to Chevrolet’s all-electric Bolt.

The automaker notified employees that the facility will see production idled from November 15th through December 3rd, though vehicle assembly won’t resume until the 6th. However the plant is already running on a diminished schedule so staff can assist with maximizing LG battery output and offer additional support related to the recall. 

“Battery module replacements remain the priority. We will continue to adjust Orion’s production schedule moving forward to best support the recall,” GM spokesman Dan Flores told Automotive News on Thursday.

Things haven’t been similarly disharmonious for Chevy’s supplier. LG Energy Solution battery division has been struck hard by the costs of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV battery recall. This tainted its profitability for Q3 and also took some of its attention away from supplying fresh energy cells for electric vehicles. There are now rumors that Orion Assembly needing a few weeks off may have been partially influenced by LG’s inability to manage a series of battery-related mishaps (which includes the Hyundai Kona) and some consumer backlash against the Bolt fires that suppressed sales.

GM’s recall includes more than 140,000 Bolt vehicles and is estimated to represent a $2-billion setback if a meaningful percentage of EVs end up requiring hardware replacements. While most of that is supposed to fall upon LG, Chevrolet won’t be getting off without contributing and has definitely received a black eye (at least as far as EVs are concerned) in terms of consumer confidence. For now, the automaker is focusing on vehicles from the 2017-2019 model years because the necessary diagnostic software for later models doesn’t exist yet.

[Image: General Motors]

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32 Comments on “Chevrolet Bolt Recall: Orion Assembly Schedules Some Downtime...”


  • avatar
    watersketch

    As someone trying to buy a Bolt this is bad news. But I predict big discounts on a 2021 Bolt that won’t be released for sale until early in 2022.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I predicted difficulty with producing these. It took 3 years to make these packs, and now GM wants to replace them all instantly, in addition to building new cars with them. Not mentioned here, but perhaps the added quality checks are slowing things down at LG Chem.

    For that matter, I don’t know how a Chevy garage will have enough staff to process these things once the packs begin flowing.

    It’s a bad deal for everyone, and I can understand why some customers are demanding a buyback.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Hmm, but GM dealers may not actually have any car inventory to give them in trade, especially in the EV segment. So if they buy the Bolts back now, GM will probably lose the new sale as well (double whammy). GM management might feel that GM is better served by dragging its feet for now, and then agreeing to a buyback once GM actually has new Bolts to sell.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Yes, and I believe a widespread buyback would be disastrous for GM’s claims to EV greatness. I’m sure they’d rather keep customers in the GM fold as long as possible, rather than expedite the solution.

        A follow-on problem: Whatever cars GM actually buys back, how do they resell them, and at what price? How does one advertise (or warrant) used cars with new batteries? That seems like a touchy one.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The newer the pack they will only need monitoring equipment t attached as they were never part of the recalls until the final one which includes all.

  • avatar

    the Bolt is toast. it will never recover and is doomed.

  • avatar

    That is one of the reasons why Toyota does not sell BEVs yet. Toyota and Ford hybrids were rock solid.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is all too bad because, as a Bolt owner, I can say it’s a terrific city car. Drives well, well-equipped, marvelous packaging, extremely low maintenance, and hasn’t had a single non-battery issue in 2 1/2 years of ownership. I don’t want a buyback. I want a Bolt with a confirmed good battery.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      +1 on the comment. I’ve only had mine for a year now, but am extremely happy with it. Waiting for the recall, definitely staying with an EV when the trade-in day comes.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        Everyone knows I’m not overly fond of EVs, they just don’t fit into my lifestyle. But the Bolt (and Kona Electric) was the first BEV that made me feel like electrification could work for the masses, particularly if they don’t stray far from home or live in a mostly urban environment. In all honesty, I want competitive EVs out there to push the tech envelope and spur competition.

        Sadly, I’m now worried that the LG battery issue will ultimately represent a massive setback for both companies and electrification efforts across the board. EVs could be great but the way they’re being implemented is really making a mess of the adoption prospects.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Yep. We’re never owning a city car with an ICE again. The question is when it will be feasible for us to change the road-trip car to BEV (it’s currently a hybrid). We could probably make it work today with any of the Tesla S variants with at least a 100kWh battery pack, but those are expensive to buy.

        I’ll have at least one ICE toy car but it won’t be driven nearly as much.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Where I’ve been thrilled with the car is that, while I bought it for a city car/commuter, it does commutes like Ashland, VA to Jamestown, VA (I’m rather involved with the historical site) on one charge, easily recharges overnight, and is ready to do it again the next morning. Definitely well beyond what my original plans for the car I was shopping at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Agreed. We bought ours as a city car but I’ve taken it on round trips to Cle Elum, WA (~190 mi roundtrip) with no issue at all, which is extremely handy if my family is staying at the resort there but I need to arrive late or leave early for work.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I’m really curious about the fate of the defective battery packs removed, all 140,000 (or more down the road). I can foresee a one word explanation “recycled”, but what does that actually look like? I’d like to read a detailed and complete description of what this recycling looks like because with this huge push for EV’s, no one talks about it.
    We’re talking about something like 100,000,000 lbs of battery.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Good question. Apparently a lot of the materials in the battery are going to be reused, which makes sense because many are rare to begin with.

      Might be a business opportunity. If there’s money to be made, someone will figure it out.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Might be a business opportunity. If there’s money to be made, someone will figure it out.”

        Redwood Materials could do it. They can get 95% of the materials back.

        https://www.redwoodmaterials.com/services

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Beware of the “refurbished” battery packs from Amazon. The motto of their return repackaging department: “What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You”.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There is at least the potential to recycle pretty much every element of the battery: casing, internal wiring, PCBs, anodes/cathodes, cell medium. The question is whether each of those will be economically feasible. The rare and potentially destructive metal parts seem more likely to be recycled. The parts I’m not sure about are the usual suspects in automotive environmental damage: plastics and fasteners.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I thought the defect was in the construction of the pack, not the individual cells. If that’s correct, then I would guess they can just take the individual cells out of the packs and install them somewhere else.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Last month I was parking at Louisville Muhammad Ali Int’l Airport. At the entrances to both short- and long-term parking were recently placed signs stating that Bolts cannot park at the airport.

    So I guess if you want to still buy one, make sure you can park it where you want to!

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Battery manufacturing defects are a huge potential liability for any EV / battery manufacturer. GM / LG got bit this time, but it could happen to anyone. You have a huge store of energy separated by a few microns of separator, integrated into a sealed component that costs $10K to $15K to manufacture. The cost of these recalls will be ultimately be born by all EV buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      They will figure it out. In the early days of LiIon consumer electronics, there were a fair number of manufacturing defects that led to product flambés. Today, there are many fewer despite a much higher volume of products, and when one happens it’s big news.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “into a sealed component that costs $10K to $15K to manufacture.”

      A 60kWh LFE pack costs half that. The LFE cells for a 60kWh pack should only cost about $4,800.4680 lithium-ion cells should be in that price range as well once they are in mass production.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “A 60kWh LFE pack costs half that.”

        First off, 60kWh is barely enough for a subcompact, which Americans don’t buy in any significant quantity.

        A pickup or SUV will require more like 120kWh minimum (particularly if it’s iron-phosphate which is heavier for the same Wh). Using your math, such a pack would cost, guess what? $9600.

        And I doubt your cost estimate is correct. A 2.5kWh 8S iron phosphate cell module from CATL costs about $300; 24 of those would run $7200, and that doesn’t include the BMS, cooling system, or outer skin of the pack.

        And sodium-ion and solid state batteries are not in mass production. Companies have been hyping solid state batteries, along with other pipe dream energy storage systems, for over 30 years. You can’t power your car with a press release.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Ha someone at work a few weeks ago was all excited to tell me about the battery recall on my little Chevy. Sorry Volt, not Bolt….LOL.

    Honestly if that battery pack gives me any trouble before it turns 15 years old I’ll be a little disappointed. I figure it will outlast the rest of the car.

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