The news is bittersweet this week for General Motors as production resumes for one of their most popular lineups, while another model remains idled with problems. Full-size pickup truck production is back online at all of General Motors’ assembly plants as of Monday this week after sitting idle all of last week. However, the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt will be at least two more weeks until its assembly line resumes as GM works toward a defect-free battery supply from LG Chem.
Pickup trucks start rolling off the line
Plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana as well as Silao, Mexico have restarted as of Monday. It’s a welcome bit of news for auto retailers who have slim pickings for voracious vehicle buyers on their lots. After taking just one week off, full-volume assembly has resumed at factories for all full-size pickups including GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado models.
As some of GM’s most popular models, they’re also among the most profitable. Like other carmakers, GM has been prioritizing trucks and SUVs that generate the most sales and revenue, favoring less profitable model shutdowns wherever possible. So far, this past week has been the only time off for full-size pickups, and no full-size SUV production has been lost.
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GM spokesman David Barnas said in a statement, “Although the situation remains complex and very fluid, GM hasn’t taken any full-size SUV production downtime due to the global shortage of semiconductors and has taken minimal downtime at its full-size pickup truck plants. We remain confident in our team’s ability to continue finding creative solutions to minimize the impact on our highest-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles.”
Mid-size trucks, however, have taken some time off. The Wentzville, Missouri plant has idled Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon production since Sept 6 and is expected to be down until at least Sept 27.
Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV still idled
It isn’t all good news for General Motors, though. After recalling the 2017 to 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV models for potential battery fires with an estimated cost exceeding $1 billion US, the carmaker still isn’t confident in their battery supply. As a result, the Bolt assembly lines will stay shut down until at least September 27.
In a statement on Aug 30, GM spokesperson Dan Flores said, “If we took the battery stock that’s in the field right now or at a warehouse, we’re not confident that it is defect-free. Because we are not confident that LG has the capability to build defect-free products, we’ve put the repairs on hold and we are not building new Bolts. We’re not going to start recall repairs or start building new Bolts until we’re confident LG will build defect-free products.”
Both GM and LG Chem say they have hundreds of employees working around the clock to find the problem and its solution so recalls can commence and production can restart.
While an official repair is being developed, customers are beginning to get frustrated and scared. Faced with a car that has the potential for a major fire has seen some owners demanding GM buy back their vehicles. Parking garages are taking notice too, and one Facebook post showed a sign image forbidding Bolt models from parking in their structures.
Confidence in GM’s EV programs has surely taken a hit due to the fires, especially since a previous recall claimed to have fixed the issue. It will take serious PR work to regain consumer confidence in their electrified models – an important process with upcoming releases like the Sierra and Silverado EVs and the HUMMER EV.
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