“GM has notified employees at Orion Assembly the plant will take downtime for the remainder of the 2021 calendar year,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement. “This decision will enable us to continue prioritizing recall repairs. We will continue to inform employees at the appropriate time of any additional production schedule adjustments in early 2022, as we continue to focus on battery module replacements.”
Orion Assembly production was first halted the week of Aug. 23 after GM announced a recall of all Bolt EVs and EUVs — more than 141,000 — for potential battery fire risk. GM is prioritizing replacing those recalled Bolts with new battery modules. The automaker restarted production for two weeks in November to make replacement Bolts for customers having their Bolts fixed. Production went down again the week of Nov. 15.
GM’s $30 billion push into EVs means adding assembly jobs. The automaker will open its once-idle Detroit-Hamtramck plant next week to make the Hummer EV and Chevrolet Silverado electric pickups, plus the Cruise Origin autonomous shuttle. That plant had 1,200 workers when it was threatened with closure in 2019 — it will have double that in two years. The former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., will be making the Cadillac Lyriq and other electric models, adding workers along the way.
All in, United Auto Workers Vice President Terry Dittes told me that the union is gaining assembly jobs as automakers prepare for a decade or more in which consumers will buy both internal combustion and electric vehicles.
At its investor presentation on Oct. 6, GM showed a graph with about 40 vehicles for sale by its four brands today, with just a couple being EVs. By 2030, the company will offer 50 models for sale and more than half will be battery-powered. GM will need workers building both of them.
GM issued a recall of the Chevrolet Bolt to more than 140,000 vehicles to replace battery modules and to address fire risks. The battery maker, LG Electronics, agreed to reimburse GM for the recall costs and expenses.
The Orion Assembly plant in Michigan has been idled since the recall. It will restart limited production on November 1 to “help optimize battery production and supply chain repair logistics.”