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GM Will Teach LGES Quality Control to Replace Battery Packs on Bolt EV Units

LGES (LG Energy Solution) and General Motors keep saying that they have a “close relationship” and that they are trying to make the best they can to start the recall for all the Chevrolet Bolt EVs ever produced. If you read the fine print, though, it is clear that GM lost its patience with the South Korean supplier. Instead of waiting for LGES to solve the situation, the American automaker seems to have decided to teach it how to “clean up the manufacturing process” for its batteries by implementing “GM quality metrics.”
Chevrolet Bolt EV Fire 7 photos
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That’s what Paul Jacobson told investors in a conference call on September 10. According to Reuters, the GM CFO used these terms to explain why GM is still not replacing the defective battery packs, which made the Bolt EV catch fire multiple times. GM does not expect to do that before November, which means current Bolt EV owners will have to keep protecting themselves for weeks to come.

The procedures recommended by GM are not to fully charge the car and to park it in the open, far from anything that can catch fire if the EV faces any problem. The company even offered an update to prevent charging the battery pack to its total capacity in the past. At the time, GM was still investigating what was causing the fires.

As we have already shared with our readers, the blazes happened due to a torn anode tab and a folded separator. Engineer Clement Bommier explained on Twitter what impacts each of these defects could have. Unlike what GM said, any of the issues may cause a short circuit and a thermal runaway, as the industry calls similar problems.

According to Reuters, GM already said that it will take personal care of its Ultium batteries’ quality control. These cells will be produced by a joint-venture GM has with LGES, which certainly made the Bolt EV fires a delicate topic between the two partners. Mary Barra is said to have even considered using other battery suppliers for future GM electric vehicles.

Jacobson said to the investors that GM and LGES are having “high-level conversations” about costs. In other words, people like Barra and other top executives at GM are pressing the battery supplier to be upfront and pay for the issues its manufacturing processes brought to Bolt EV owners – not to mention the car’s reputation at this point. Hyundai is said to have demanded the same from LGES due to the fires involving the Kona Electric.

Elon Musk did not miss the chance to poke GM and LGES, which also is a Tesla supplier in China. He said on Twitter that the “probability of thermal runaway is dangerously high with large pouch cells.” He also wrote that “Tesla strongly recommends against their use."

Ironically, that did not prevent Tesla from having its battery fire cases. Only in 2021, we have already reported five cases only involving cars from the company. Apart from them, Tesla’s Victorian Big Battery also caught fire in August. Pouch cells from manufacturers such as SK Innovation have never had similar issues, as far as we know.


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