GM to Resume Bolt Production as Fix Found for Battery Fires

A Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle in West Bloomfield, Mich.
A Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle in West Bloomfield, Mich. (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg News)

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General Motors Co. will resume production of the Chevrolet Bolt and larger Bolt EUV electric vehicles in April after the automaker and its battery partner, an LG Group company, found a solution to its manufacturing gaffes.

GM stopped production of the Bolt in August and recalled nearly 143,000 of them, which includes every one the company ever made, because a manufacturing defect at LG’s battery plant resulted in at least 13 fires. The company hasn’t made new Bolts because it had been redirecting limited supplies of new batteries to replace the defective storage system in recalled vehicles.

Even as the Bolt goes back into production, GM’s bigger push to compete with Tesla Inc. and rivals Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG in the burgeoning EV market rests more on new and future models. GM started building the new Hummer EV pickup in December and is getting ready to sell the Cadillac Lyriq SUV this spring, both of which are more in line with current consumer tastes than the compact Bolt.

GM has said that it has thousands of orders for both vehicles and is expanding production.

With the resumption of Bolt production, GM is trying to put a long and embarrassing chapter behind it. Recall costs soared to $1.9 billion, most of which were assumed by LG, but GM still had to manage customer complaints. While trying to find a fix, Bolt owners could not fully charge their vehicles and were advised to park them outside and, in some cases, more than 50 feet away from other vehicles.

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Suspending Bolt sales also allowed rival Ford to cruise past GM into second place in 2021 in EV sales behind Tesla as the Mustang Mach-E caught on with buyers.

Whether GM keeps the Bolt name is an open question. CEO Mary Barra told Bloomberg TV recently that the car is in GM’s “near-term future.” The Orion Township plant that builds the Bolt will be converted to make electric pickup trucks in 2024.

The automaker said in January that it plans to sell 1 million EVs a year in the U.S. by 2025, including 600,000 electric pickup trucks.

GM has three lower-priced EVs coming, including the Chevy Equinox and Blazer that will both sell for around $30,000. The company also plans to build an EV priced below those two models.


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