GM To Idle Plant That Makes Brightdrop Electric Vans Until Spring 2024

General Motors will idle the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, from October through spring 2024.

The company will halt production because of delays in the delivery of needed Ultium battery modules that power the BrightDrop Zevo 600 and Zevo 410 electric vans produced at the plant, the automaker said.

“CAMI Assembly will take downtime beginning in October, due to previously announced delays in battery-module supply,” GM spokesperson Maria Violette said in a statement.

“Vehicle production is expected to resume in the spring of 2024, supported by the launch of CAMI’s newย battery-module line, which will have capacity to fully support BrightDrop production at CAMI and supplement EV production at other GM plants.”

As you may recall, the CAMI Assembly Plant was idled for two weeks in July amid a battery module shortage following two weeks of a summer shutdown. Before that shutdown, workers were on rotating shifts, two weeks on and four weeks off, to keep all employed.

GM CEO Mary Barra said on the second-quarter earnings call in July that an unspecified issue with automation equipment supply for battery module production was slowing its electric vehicle production ramp-up.

Gallery: BrightDrop Zevo 600 production at CAMI Assembly plant in Ontario

The unexpected delays were caused by an unnamed automation equipment supplier that was struggling with delivery issues, which in turn constrained module assembly capacity. The executive said at the time that the issue was expected to be resolved at the end of 2023.

According to The Detroit News, General Motors sent manufacturing engineering teams to help the automation supplier improve its delivery, and the automaker has also added manual module assembly lines at its EV plants, including the CAMI site.

The 400,000-square-foot facility is expected to go on line in the second quarter of 2024 supporting production of BrightDrop Zevo vans and other GM EVs.

Currently, the Ultium battery that powers the BrightDrop Zevo electric vans is made at Ultium Cells’ Ohio battery cell plant. The Ohio plant is the only one currently making the Ultium battery, but GM and its joint venture partner LG Energy Solution plan to open a second cell plant in Tennessee in 2024 and a third in Michigan in 2025.

The CAMI Assembly Plant hires approximately 1,500 people, 1,200 of which are members of the Unifor union. GM Canada said “major layoffs” would begin in mid-October, sending the plant’s entire workforce home.

“It’s devastating news to our members,” said Lana Payne, Unifor’s national president, according to The London Free Press. “We’re obviously pushing the company to shorten the downtime period.”

Sources: The Detroit News, The London Free Press

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