Amid Bolt EV recall, GM CEO emphasizes multiple future battery options

As it undertakes a massive recall of Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars due to alleged defects in battery cells, General Motors is talking up the benefits of multiple battery suppliers for future EV production.

In an interview with Bloomberg released Thursday, GM CEO Mary Barra indicated the automaker would continue using LG as a battery supplier, but said the company has “multiple pathways” to securing enough cells for a planned EV production ramp-up.

LG not only supplies the cells for the Bolt EV; it’s also engaged in a joint venture called Ultium Cells LLC with GM, including plans to build a total of four battery factories to support GM EVs through the decade.

The battery supplier remains a “valued partner,” Barra said, while noting that GM’s Ultium modular battery systems allows for a high degree of flexibility, including different chemistries. She specifically noted a partnership with Solid Energy Solutions, a startup developing lithium-metal chemistry.

Ultium batteries will be used in a number of upcoming GM EVs, starting with the GMC Hummer EV pickup truck and Cadillac Lyriq SUV.

2022 GMC Hummer EV

2022 GMC Hummer EV

For now, though, the automaker is focused on a recall of Bolt EV models, which use different LG cells entirely.

GM is currently in the process of recalling every Bolt EV and Bolt EUV made after a series of fires. The recall encompasses more than 100,000 cars—now including cells produced in South Korea and Michigan—and is expected to cost almost $2 billion. GM has reported two specific manufacturing defects in Bolt EV battery cells as the causes of the problem.

GM’s Ultium battery and propulsion strategy has been focusing on large-format pouch cells that it can scale across its lineup perhaps with only two chemistry variations, and a dramatic reduction in complexity. Ultium has some industry firsts, like the first wireless battery management. It’s also said that 600 miles is viable, with a million-mile battery in sight.

Ford is making a similar agreement for battery supply, with a joint venture with rival South Korean battery maker SK Innovation.

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