General Motors Co. is playing a more direct role with South Korea’s LG Corp., its longtime electric vehicle partner, in tracking and fixing problems related to battery fires in the Chevrolet Bolts, which is a strategic partnership between the two companies. The plans are at risk.
At an investor conference on Friday, GM’s chief financial officer Paul Jacobson said LG is working with GM engineers to “clean up the manufacturing process” at LG battery plants and implement certain “GM quality metrics.”
Battery plants in South Korea and Michigan, operated by LG Energy Solutions (LGES), have been identified by GM as the source of the defects behind a rash of battery-related fires in the Bolt, which led to three recalls and $1.8 in warranty set-aside. Billion triggered. GM – Recall from last November for which GM still hasn’t implemented a hardware fix.
LGES and affiliate LG Electronics on Friday reiterated their “close relationship” with GM, saying the three companies are “actively with a final recall plan” to “intelligently resolve” the battery issues in more than 140,000 Bolts. Collaborating with” – Full production has been going on since the end of 2016.
“The experts at GM and LG continue to work round-the-clock on the issues,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said Thursday. “We are determined to do the right thing for our customers and solve the problem forever. Once we are confident that LG can provide us with good battery modules, we can start repairs as soon as possible. Will give
GM has said that early Bolt models will have their entire battery pack replaced, while the new model will only have faulty modules within the pack. Those new parts may not be available until after November.
Meanwhile, Bolt owners and potential EV buyers have sparked a stream of complaints and concerns on social media aimed at both GM and LG. It is not clear how much permanent damage the battery fire could cause to the company.
“Tesla also hasn’t been slowed by the fire,” said Tyson Jomini, J.D. Power’s vice president of automotive data and analytics. “I don’t expect it to slow EV infection very much.”
With the resolution of the costly recall debacle still up in the air, relations between GM and LG have soured, people familiar with the situation said. The partners are mired in what a Korean analyst deemed a “show window marriage”, in which divorce is unlikely because there are few immediate options available.
For now, GM’s Michigan factory that assembles the Bolt has been closed and 1,000 of its workers lay idle as of the end of September.
The automaker said it has bought back some Bolts from owners and is reviewing such requests on a case-by-case basis. GM has also said it expects the Bolt to help LG cover the $1.8 billion cost of replacing the battery pack.
On Friday, GM’s Jacobson said the two companies are in “high-level talks” about costs, and that GM expects to be reimbursed.
But the final cost could be even higher for GM and LG. GM is running a $35 billion campaign to launch a new generation of electric and automatic vehicles powered by its proprietary Ultium battery technology.
Altium batteries GM plans to use in major electric models such as the GMC Hummer EV and the electric Chevrolet Silverado, which are to be built with LGES at joint venture factories in Ohio and Tennessee as part of a $4.6 billion investment program .
But after the latest Bolt recall in late August, chief executive Mary Barra left open the possibility that GM could find new partners for future battery plants.
GM’s Altium cells have a different design, size and chemistry than the LG cells in the Bolt and are packaged differently in modules and packs.
GM executives also insist that the automaker, not LG, will control manufacturing and quality control of Ultium batteries.
LG and its allies have as much at stake as GM, if not more.
The Bolt recalls aren’t the only ones with LG batteries. South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. earlier this year recalled about 76,000 Kona electric cars worldwide to replace faulty battery modules after reports of a fire involving China-made LG batteries.
LG’s signature battery technology, a slim and flexible rectangular format called a pouch cell, is one of three different battery types used in electric vehicles.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk quipped on GM-LG pouch cell technology in a recent tweet, writing that “the potential for thermal runaway with large pouch cells is alarmingly high. Tesla strongly recommends against their use.” does.” Tesla primarily uses cylindrical cells from several sources, including some manufactured in China by LG.
It is unclear what types of cells LGES expects to produce as part of its plan to invest $4.5 billion in two additional US battery plants. Changing battery cell technology and formats can slow investment timelines.
On Friday, LGES told Reuters: “We will continue to win orders and advance our investments in global markets, including the United States, as planned.”
by Paul Leinert and Hekyong Yango
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times