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Looking at the Lyriq Pack, I really don't see why GM cannot just remove the pack BMS and put Ultium Modules to make the Bolt pack...
They have no interest in making hatchbacks. Hatchbacks don't sell. They completely ignored the Spark EV in this piece. They are wedded to cobalt. I see Ford is talking about LFP soon. Interesting times.

 

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Also the Bolt simply isn't the best market segment to make a big push.
Striving to maximize penetration into the low/entry level segment even with a technically inferior or outdated product, may be a good move.

Hamper the competition’s capacity utilization, provide a cash contribution against ongoing fixed costs and deploy ‘get em and grow em’ marketing approach.

Consider the Chevrolet Chevette of the early 1980’s run on 2-shifts out of GM’s Wilmington DE assembly plant. Simple design reliable car but inferior in performance and features. Price taker to maintain production volume into entry level of market, selling millions of units over 12 years,

In lower price EV entry level not nearly as sensitive to product attributes. Had GM put adequate oversight effort into Bolt & recognized need for verification of manufacturing quality while setting up for 2 shifts at Orion. Today Bolt would have large carpark containing many potential move uppers. And a car sufficiently acceptable to participate 2-3 more years.

In 2018 UBS studied Bolt profitability indicating contribution margin of $5,500-$7,500 per unit depending on model (but no way to make an EBIT profit with Orion running on one shift)
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
In this interview with Mark Reuss, he talks about GM's mistakes/mindset when the Bolt was introduced and also comments on the "loyal, passionate Bolt community - almost Corvette-like". Long interview; skip to about 57:00 for the Bolt section.
Thanks very much for pointing us at the Reuss interview. In addition to the shout-out to the Bolt community, he pushes back hard when one of the interviewers predicates a question with "the Bolt has had a lot of problems." His response is "Actually, no - the Bolt has had one big problem" (i.e., the battery fires.) His main point, though is that the Bolt's real problem was GM's failure to throw the company's full weight behind it. He makes allowances for that failure by noting that when the Bolt came to market the demand for BEVs was nothing like it is today. That said, he seems reasonably sincere when he says that he regrets that they didn't spend more on marketing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
GM got it right with the Bolt.
What it got wrong was having LG build the battery.
So now GM gets all the media heat for LG's mistakes.

What they should do is continue Bolt production and make the Bolt battery themselves.
The Bolt is still the best value out there in an E-car.
"GM got it right with the Bolt. What it got wrong was having LG build the battery. So now GM gets all the media heat for LG's mistakes."
Reuss more or less says this in that interview. My knowledge of the industry is far less than ARob's several other people's, but it sounds like Reuss regrets that one of the "compromises" that GM made with the Bolt was to buy batteries from LG instead of investing in production facilities like the ones for the Ultium batteries.
 

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GM's history doesn't lead me to believe that they are more masters of quality control than LG. I know from experience that LG can make a **** good washing machine and GM can make good vehicles, but I think both need to up their game manufacturing batteries because they're much less forgiving of any defects. When this first started there was the doubtful theory that American labor in and of itself would prevent the fires but that turned out to be wrong.
 

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Honestly, I think the only thing they needed to do better with the Bolt recall was communication. I'm going to make out by a few grand and I like the car yet I have strong emotions towards GM and I'm not alone.

Their biggest problems stem from the fact that the Ioniq 5, EV6, Mach-E and ID.4 are out there killing it while they're still relying on a car from 5 years ago. Maybe the Lyriq will change that, we'll see how many they can make. If you want to go back and dial back in why they don't have a compelling, leading product in the 40-60k range right now, whatever that is, that's the thing that's killing them.

Ford may have sold 200k F150s, on the road before the first Silverado gets delivered. Will be 75,000-100,000 R1Ts. They're in a danger zone and people like Munro and the like think Ultium is "alright" but not enough to get them to catch up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
GM's history doesn't lead me to believe that they are more masters of quality control than LG. I know from experience that LG can make a **** good washing machine and GM can make good vehicles, but I think both need to up their game manufacturing batteries because they're much less forgiving of any defects. When this first started there was the doubtful theory that American labor in and of itself would prevent the fires but that turned out to be wrong.
Whatever the reason - I hadn't heard the "American labor" theory - the statistics I've seen make it pretty clear that LG ran into quality control problems sometime in 2018 that it hadn't experienced before and hasn't experienced since it started making Bolt batteries in its new Michigan factory. Senior corporate executives like Reuss use language a lttle differently than most people, but to my ears it sounds like he's suggesting that the battery fiasco might not have happened if GM had been more involved in the manufacturing process. In that sense, it seems plausible that it would have been easier for GM to be more involved if the batteries were being manufactured here, though Reuss seems to be saying that the real problem, in hindsight, was that GM was ambivalent about how involved and invested the company was prepared to be, regardless of where the batteries were being made.
 

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Whatever the reason - I hadn't heard the "American labor" theory - the statistics I've seen make it pretty clear that LG ran into quality control problems sometime in 2018 that it hadn't experienced before and hasn't experienced since it started making Bolt batteries in its new Michigan factory. Senior corporate executives like Reuss use language a lttle differently than most people, but to my ears it sounds like he's suggesting that the battery fiasco might not have happened if GM had been more involved in the manufacturing process. In that sense, it seems plausible that it would have been easier for GM to be more involved if the batteries were being manufactured here, though Reuss seems to be saying that the real problem, in hindsight, was that GM was ambivalent about how involved and invested the company was prepared to be, regardless of where the batteries were being made.
I agree, Bolts battery issues are largely (not exclusively) due to Korean made LG cells. Surely, GM Korea had a hand in QA, but likely not to the degree that they can oversee things in the US.

As I stated above, the real problems seemed to occur in late 2018 when the 2019 model year vehicles were being built. Since model years tend to go August-July, and Holland, MI plant started producing in early 2019, the biggest chunk of the fires occurred in late 2018 calendar year cell production. While there were a handful of fires in earlier (and later) Bolts, those may have been a low enough occurrence to fly under NHTSA radars.

So, going back to that time period, there were two things concurrently happening. SKI was in the middle of stealing LG tech and people (according to the Intellectual Property suit than SKI settled for some large $$$). In my career, anytime there is a high turnover period, things slip through cracks. Second was LG announcing the work they were performing in Korea would shift to US. You have to wonder what moral was at the factory during this period, I suspect that had a lot to do with quality becoming slack. Those details may not emerge in public for years, after their impact will fade and not cause reputation damage due to many solid years of performance following... Time will tell. But you can bet GM execs know exactly what the nature of the problem was and don't want to air their dirty laundry.

In an increasingly complex world, specialization has some distinct advantages. You don't expect heart surgeons to be liver transplant experts... LG has deep experience with design and manufacturing of batteries, GM did not, and may still not have the degree of expertise that LG has. The strategic partnership is continuing with the 3 new Ultium plants, so GM apparently still sees value in the relationship. Sure, costs might be cut (eventually) by GM taking on more of the cell production, but would lack of expertise cause challenges, perhaps even quality issues until they build up the expertise? GM is instead focussing on securing the raw materials for cell production, they presumably have more influence and resources to secure adequate supplies of the raw materials than LG does. So, GM is more active in the whole process, and can drive LG to produce the volumes they need of finished products.

The other thing the experience did for GM is act as an insurance policy. Ultimately, nearly all of the Bolt replacement cell cost is being handled by LG. But, again, good strategic partners don't criticize each other. Hyundai did, but by then, they apparently were already shifting focus to a new vendor (SKI). So Hyundai had little to lose by criticizing LG.

I read Reuss comments not thinking GM could have done this better, but that GM could have anticipated issues given what was happening around that time and demanded greater attention to detail. The fact that GM/LG are continuing their partnership into the future begs to differ that GM thinks they could do what LG does better than LG can.

My takeaway was, the biggest regrets he sees are that GM as a company didn't have complete faith in the Bolt program. The future of EVs was quite uncertain in the 3-5 years Bolt was being developed (2012-2016). Marketing and supply chains were never optimized for high volume production and sales, because not everyone was convinced this was the way to go. Imagine if GM went all in on the Bolt and EV demand didn't catch on, their wager would have been a significant risk to the long term health of the company. So, in hindsight, knowing EV demand is catching on, it is easy to say they should have been bolder in the past. But hindsight is always better than foresight. So, my take on the lessons learned is, had they had more faith and been more committed to Bolt, they might be in a better position now, that is the regret.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
I agree, Bolts battery issues are largely (not exclusively) due to Korean made LG cells. Surely, GM Korea had a hand in QA, but likely not to the degree that they can oversee things in the US.

As I stated above, the real problems seemed to occur in late 2018 when the 2019 model year vehicles were being built. Since model years tend to go August-July, and Holland, MI plant started producing in early 2019, the biggest chunk of the fires occurred in late 2018 calendar year cell production. While there were a handful of fires in earlier (and later) Bolts, those may have been a low enough occurrence to fly under NHTSA radars.

So, going back to that time period, there were two things concurrently happening. SKI was in the middle of stealing LG tech and people (according to the Intellectual Property suit than SKI settled for some large $$$). In my career, anytime there is a high turnover period, things slip through cracks. Second was LG announcing the work they were performing in Korea would shift to US. You have to wonder what moral was at the factory during this period, I suspect that had a lot to do with quality becoming slack. Those details may not emerge in public for years, after their impact will fade and not cause reputation damage due to many solid years of performance following... Time will tell. But you can bet GM execs know exactly what the nature of the problem was and don't want to air their dirty laundry.

In an increasingly complex world, specialization has some distinct advantages. You don't expect heart surgeons to be liver transplant experts... LG has deep experience with design and manufacturing of batteries, GM did not, and may still not have the degree of expertise that LG has. The strategic partnership is continuing with the 3 new Ultium plants, so GM apparently still sees value in the relationship. Sure, costs might be cut (eventually) by GM taking on more of the cell production, but would lack of expertise cause challenges, perhaps even quality issues until they build up the expertise? GM is instead focussing on securing the raw materials for cell production, they presumably have more influence and resources to secure adequate supplies of the raw materials than LG does. So, GM is more active in the whole process, and can drive LG to produce the volumes they need of finished products.

The other thing the experience did for GM is act as an insurance policy. Ultimately, nearly all of the Bolt replacement cell cost is being handled by LG. But, again, good strategic partners don't criticize each other. Hyundai did, but by then, they apparently were already shifting focus to a new vendor (SKI). So Hyundai had little to lose by criticizing LG.

I read Reuss comments not thinking GM could have done this better, but that GM could have anticipated issues given what was happening around that time and demanded greater attention to detail. The fact that GM/LG are continuing their partnership into the future begs to differ that GM thinks they could do what LG does better than LG can.

My takeaway was, the biggest regrets he sees are that GM as a company didn't have complete faith in the Bolt program. The future of EVs was quite uncertain in the 3-5 years Bolt was being developed (2012-2016). Marketing and supply chains were never optimized for high volume production and sales, because not everyone was convinced this was the way to go. Imagine if GM went all in on the Bolt and EV demand didn't catch on, their wager would have been a significant risk to the long term health of the company. So, in hindsight, knowing EV demand is catching on, it is easy to say they should have been bolder in the past. But hindsight is always better than foresight. So, my take on the lessons learned is, had they had more faith and been more committed to Bolt, they might be in a better position now, that is the regret.
"My takeaway was, the biggest regrets he sees are that GM as a company didn't have complete faith in the Bolt program."

Mine, too. That said, creating the first long-range BEV that could be sold for significantly less than a Model S (and, as Reuss notes, beating Tesla to that market) was far from cheap. It sounds like they beat themselves by doing the necessary R&D to build a great car but blinking when it came to making the necessary investment to optimize marketing and supply chains for high volume production and sales. The great British phrase "In for a penny, in for a pound" comes to mind. Reuss is much too smart to even suggest that there was any internal disagreement about that but I have to assume that, at the very least, the engineers who did such a great job must have felt betrayed by the company's unwillingness to pick up the ball and run with it as hard and fast as they could.
 

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Their biggest problems stem from the fact that the Ioniq 5, EV6, Mach-E and ID.4 are out there killing it while they're still relying on a car from 5 years ago.
You keep saying "killing it" and yes, some stats are an improvement over the Bolt, but where's the value? All those cars are substantially larger, more expensive, none you list are yet widely available and where they are, mostly way above MSRP. I did a quick search, certainly not complete, but there's very few of them available for sale within a 250-mile radius of me and certainly not at MSRP. "Order yours now."

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT - MSRP $76,735, at three times the price some here paid for their new Bolt, it should be a generation newer, with more bells and whistles.

jack vines, whose 2017 Bolt continues to do everything it was bought to do and has never required any service. So far, so good,
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
You keep saying "killing it" and yes, some stats are an improvement over the Bolt, but where's the value? All those cars are substantially larger, more expensive, none you list are yet widely available and where they are, mostly way above MSRP. I did a quick search, certainly not complete, but there's very few of them available for sale within a 250-mile radius of me and certainly not at MSRP. "Order yours now."

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT - MSRP $76,735, at three times the price some here paid for their new Bolt, it should be a generation newer, with more bells and whistles.

jack vines, whose 2017 Bolt continues to do everything it was bought to do and has never required any service. So far, so good,
With the Bolt GM had the market for relatively inexpensive long-range BEVs to itself for several years. And with Hyundai/Kia not building nearly enough BEVs for the U.S. market to be seriously competitive and the Model 3 being significantly more expensive, I think a strong case could be made that GM would still have that market pretty much to itself if their handling of the battery fires hadn't been so inept. As ARob and others have suggested, it looks like their plan was to eventually switch out the Bolt for a car that used the same Ultium platform that they'd be putting under their other BEVs, but that the combination of the fires and their response left them without a horse in that race. And by the time that car does come to market it will have to compete with the long-range BEV that Toyota and Subaru are planning to start selling later this year.
 

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With the Bolt GM had the market for relatively inexpensive long-range BEVs to itself for several years. And with Hyundai/Kia not building nearly enough BEVs for the U.S. market to be seriously competitive and the Model 3 being significantly more expensive, I think a strong case could be made that GM would still have that market pretty much to itself if their handling of the battery fires hadn't been so inept. As ARob and others have suggested, it looks like their plan was to eventually switch out the Bolt for a car that used the same Ultium platform that they'd be putting under their other BEVs, but that the combination of the fires and their response left them without a horse in that race. And by the time that car does come to market it will have to compete with the long-range BEV that Toyota and Subaru are planning to start selling later this year.
You guys keep dissing the Bolt, which has been a fact in the market for seven years now with vaporware which may be along someday.

jack vines
 

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You keep saying "killing it" and yes, some stats are an improvement over the Bolt, but where's the value? All those cars are substantially larger, more expensive, none you list are yet widely available and where they are, mostly way above MSRP. I did a quick search, certainly not complete, but there's very few of them available for sale within a 250-mile radius of me and certainly not at MSRP. "Order yours now."

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT - MSRP $76,735, at three times the price some here paid for their new Bolt, it should be a generation newer, with more bells and whistles.

jack vines, whose 2017 Bolt continues to do everything it was bought to do and has never required any service. So far, so good,
You say that as if I think the Bolt is a bad car and I don't own one. The cars on the market and sales numbers shows a pretty big gap at the moment. So until someone anoints us car Czars over the country, our opinions don't hold much water ;)
 

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You say that as if I think the Bolt is a bad car and I don't own one. The cars on the market and sales numbers shows a pretty big gap at the moment. So until someone anoints us car Czars over the country, our opinions don't hold much water ;)
Indeed: Toyota + Subaru "long range BEVs" = 0 (which were the "vaporware" cars @Packard V8 referred to)
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
You guys keep dissing the Bolt, which has been a fact in the market for seven years now with vaporware which may be along someday.

jack vines
Like RacerX00, I'm not sure who you're arguing with here. I'd still be happily driving a Bolt - either my re-batteried 2019 LT or the 2022 that I was ready to swap it for when GM pulled the plug in August.

As for the Toyota/Subaru BEV, both companies have a well-earned reputation for reliability, both in terms of building large numbers of affordable, robustly designed vehicles and for not promising more than they can deliver. I haven't been following that story closely, but the last time I checked they were estimating MSRP's starting in the mid-$30K range, making the car competitive with the GM car which, if we're talking about vaporware...
 
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