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GM to get back most of the cost of Chevrolet Bolt battery recall

by Bloomberg | October 13, 2021 at 2:01 a.m.
General Motors Co. (GM) Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles (EV) stand at the Seoul Motor Show in Goyang, South Korea, on March 30, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by SeongJoon Cho.

General Motors said it reached an agreement with partner LG Electronics to recover from the Korean company $1.9 billion of the $2 billion in costs for a recall of batteries in its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle.

The Detroit automaker said Tuesday it will recognize the recovery in its third-quarter earnings. GM had to recall all 143,000 Bolt and Bolt EUV models because of a manufacturing defect involving the battery that led to an increased fire risk.

GM will recoup nearly all of the costs of the recall, showing that Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra got the company's battery partner to assume nearly full responsibility. With the settlement, both GM and LG can begin moving past the costly and embarrassing episode that had the automaker telling Bolt owners to limit how much to charge the car's battery and advising them to park outdoors and 50 feet from other vehicles.

The two companies will continue to work to make GM's new EV batteries through a joint venture called Ultium LLC. The jointly owned company is building a battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and will set up another in Spring Hill, Tenn.

"LG is a valued and respected supplier to GM, and we are pleased to reach this agreement," Shilpan Amin, GM's vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, said in a statement. "Our engineering and manufacturing teams continue to collaborate to accelerate production of new battery modules and we expect to begin repairing customer vehicles this month."

Earlier today, LG Corp. companies announced plans to set aside $918 million to cover costs related to the recall of the Bolt and moved to reassure investors concerned about a rift between the South Korean conglomerate and GM.

Two different LG units will foot the bill. LG Chem Ltd.'s battery unit LG Energy Solution said Tuesday it will book $517 million in charges. LG Electronics Inc., which packaged LG Energy's cells into modules, separately booked $400.1 million in costs as it released third-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates.

LG Energy said it will now resume the process of pursuing an initial public offering and aims to strengthen its partnership with GM. The recall costs had delayed IPO plans.

GM said in October that the two companies came up with a solution to fix the manufacturing defects in the Bolt batteries and a plan to replace battery modules in the cars.

The two companies had examined burned batteries for months and found that a torn anode tab and a folded separator, which is supposed to keep the anode and cathode from touching, were the cause of the fires. Both defects needed to exist for a fire to start.

LG resumed production of new battery modules this month to replace defective ones and start building the Bolt again.

GM said that the company confirmed 13 fires and no fatalities.

Print Headline: GM to get back most of the cost of Chevrolet Bolt battery recall


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