General Motors will start making Chevy Bolts again on November 1st, after shutting down production in late August following a global recall of the electric vehicle due to battery fire risk. The production restart at the company’s Orion assembly plant in Michigan will last for at least two weeks, as Reuters reports, though GM isn’t saying what will happen after that.
The production restart will come just a few weeks after GM announced that battery supplier LG agreed to foot the $2 billion bill for the recall. And it comes at a time when global supply chain shortages have most of the auto industry dealing with way more customer demand than it can handle — which has also been driving more people than usual to buy EVs.
GM first issued a recall for 2017 to 2019 model year Bolts in November 2020 after a handful of reports of battery fires. It announced a purported preventative fix for the problem in May 2021, which involved installing software that would monitor for early signs of a fire in the battery pack. But by July, two more vehicles caught fire that had the new software, causing GM to recall those same Bolts again. In August, GM recalled all model year Bolts — including the two new versions that hit the market this year — as it worked with LG to fix the underlying problem.
That problem had to do with the manufacturing process of the LG batteries that power the Bolt, which was making it possible for two specific defects to appear simultaneously in the cells. If and when those two defects are present, the risk of a fire goes way up, especially for owners who repeatedly drain the battery to almost zero and charge back up all the way.
GM and LG started making what they believe are defect-free battery modules earlier this month. Most of them are earmarked for replacing the modules in the 140,000-plus recalled Bolts, but Tuesday’s announcement could be a sign that the companies are getting closer to having enough batteries to handle the recall while also getting the 2022 Bolt and Bolt EUV back on dealer lots.