Do GM Brownstown Layoffs Indicate No Future Volt Crossover?

Chevy Volt

DEC 21 2018 BY WADE MALONE 68

50 employees will be laid off at Chevy Volt battery assembly plant.

Since October of 2010, GM’s battery plant in Brownstown, Michigan has assembled battery packs for the Chevy Volt. Packs for the Cadillac ELR and 2015+ Chevy Spark EV were also previously assembled here. Cells for the Volt are produced at LG Chem’s plant in Holland, MI.

Previously it was expected that the Volt would live until a Voltec crossover was ready. The decision to end Volt production will result in the layoff of 50 Brownstown employees. This suggests that a replacement is not coming anytime soon. At least not for Brownstown.

It could be that a future U.S. Voltec product will involve a long term deal with LG Chem similar to the Bolt EV. Last year, LG Chem began an expansion of their Holland facility. Perhaps it will assemble future packs for the Chevy Bolt EV or a new, unknown GM plug-in. Chevy currently receives fully assembled Bolt battery packs from LG Chem’s facility in Incheon, South Korea.

The other possibility is that if a crossover is coming, it will be from China. In fact Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, recently indicated this might be the case. According to Kudlow, “It seems like GM would rather build its electric cars in China rather than the United States.”

The larger Buick Velite 6 is very similar in function to the Chevy Volt. However, due to Chinese protectionist policies GM was forced to work with local manufacturers. GM turned to A123 for the Velite 6 to avoid import tariffs and gain access to incentives. But poor quality control from supplier A123 has delayed the launch.

If a future PHEV crossover is in the works, it will likely be built in China. Whether or not it reaches North America is still an unknown.

Source: GM Authority

Buick Enspire

Categories: Battery Tech, Cadillac, Chevrolet

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68 Comments on "Do GM Brownstown Layoffs Indicate No Future Volt Crossover?"

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Rest in Peace GM

“Since October of 2010, GM’s battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Michigan has assembled battery packs for the Chevy Volt. Packs for the Cadillac ELR and 2015+ Chevy Spark EV were assembled here. Cells for the Volt are produced at LG Chem’s plant in Holland, MI.”
Which is it Brownstown or Holland or Volt or Bolt?

Cells is different to battery packs.

David is correct, the battery packs are assembled using individual cells produced by LG Chem.

Where’s the editor

“South Korean”

Edit: South Korea.

Got it thanks, this sentence was re-phrased and that was overlooked.

The king of PHEVs is dead. It’s definetly a loss for anyone who wasn’t ready to make the switch to a BEV. I, for one, will never buy a car made in China. So, if that’s a the route GM is going, I’m done with their electrified products.

I own a China-assembled CT6 PHEV. The build quality is very good.

If an iPhone is on your list, Chinese build is your only choice.

Try finding US assembled clothing.

I’d pay more to buy an iPhone or clothing made in the US. Not an option, unfortunately.

With cars, I do have the option to buy US-Made (Canadian-made is fine with me too).

American Giant clothing. Before you complain about the price understand that it lasts for years.

Allen Edmonds dress shoes and New Balance trainers. They aren’t entirely made in America any longer, but most of the work is done here. They are better than the competition and not much more expensive.

men’s warehouse and higher quality places stitch clothing in America.
It is the low-end garbage that is imported, typically from China.

And BYD buses here speaks volumes. Serious quality issues from China, not America.

Very sad indeed. I was really hoping Voltec would make its way into more vehicles. I moved on from my 2014 Volt to a model 3 LR RWD but if I either lived somewhere with real winter (which really impacts EV range) or hadn’t been willing or able to pony up double the net cost of my Volt I would have kept it. Someday battery prices and energy densities will be low and high enough respectively to allow Equinox sized and priced BEVs to have more than 200 miles of highway range even in really cold conditions but I think we are at least 5 years from that point. Voltec would be a great option until then. While the BEV Puristas rip on it being complex the bottom line is it has been very reliable.

The russians elected Trump, therefore, the auto industry can feed the oil industry.
And the Justice department will not look for the bribe.

Here here

Will, I think you meant, “Hear him, hear him! Or “Hear, hear!”, if you want the short version.
It is British, but it is worth getting right. I don’t mean to be a jerk, it comes naturally to me.

There, there

I think they are maybe shifting plans a bit? I think it is clear PHEV is not the way to go. With all the new 150 to 350 kW chargers coming online BEV might be a better option. VW has better plans it would seem. I was expecting to see more from GM this year.

I have three cars at the moment, LR M3, G1 Volt, and CX-5. If I had to choose only one car to keep, it would be the Volt.

BEVs just don’t have enough cold-weather range or quick-charge fast enough in cold weather to be practical for long distance driving. Maybe if you only drive in warm areas a BEV would be an acceptable sole-vehicle. If not, PHEVs are still a good balance.

According to you, maybe. There are literally tens of thousands of BEV owners driving through the coldest winters all around the world without issue. The vast majority would not be interested in a hybrid even at the same price.

I’d love to read the source you’re literally quoting….

I’m sure many people have BEVs in cold climates. I would guess that most have a backup vehicle.

But, let’s assume I only had the LR M3. I could get by, but If I wanted to drive 200 miles in 10F weather I’d have to sacrifice most cabin heat and/or deal with a 1-2 hour stop at a supercharger. The range and supercharge times for the M3 look great until you realize that cold weather kills them both.

“I’d have to sacrifice most cabin heat and/or deal with a 1-2 hour stop at a supercharger. The range and supercharge times for the M3 look great until you realize that cold weather kills them both.”

If you’ve been driving, the battery in the Model 3 will be warm enough to charge at its usual speed. A Supercharger spot to help you with a winter-time range drop should be achievable in 15 minutes.

Even when I’ve been driving for an hour in 20-30F temps I often have the dots indicating a cold battery and regen reduction. And, even after the dots disappear, supercharging the M3 seems very slow in cold weather. As in 30kw charge rate at 30% SoC.

Last winter someone did a US/Canada road trip and and had lots of supercharging issues due to cold. I think it was the Norway Tesla-fanatic guy?

“The vast majority would not be interested in a hybrid even at the same price”
First, a PHEV/EREV/REx (presumably what you mean by hybrid) is far cheaper for the same overall range, not more expensive.
More importantly, how do you know? The only two decent-range PHEVs in the developed world, Volt & Honda Clarity PHEV, are only available in the US & Canada. Globally, PHEVs are over a third of all EV cars sold, and the vast majority of BEVs in the largest market, China, as well as many others are small urban ones with below-100mi range — larger batteries are still too expensive.

The plug in hybrid is CHEAPER not more expensive. After tax credit, California rebate, dealer discount and cash back from Toyota you can get a Prius prime for about $20k before Sales tax. It’s the most rational choice if you wish to be a low impact (CO2, etc) and still have the full capabilities and utility of a gasoline/diesel car. The BEV purity thing is not fact or reason based.

No need to insult real PHEVs by bringing up the Prime! 🙂

If you need a hybrid there’s still the outstanding BMW i3 REX.
Lease and then buy.
But, there’s that question of BMW parts pricing you have to consider.
You have to be able to afford the parts.

Best I can tell from GM’s past and more recent handling of Volt & Bolt (both very good EV’s), GM and GM’s independent franchise dealer network don’t desire to promote/support high volume all-electric car sales… likely because they view expanding all-electric sedan sales less a profit opportunity than expanding ICE truck & ICE SUV sales… which is probably correct calculus if mostly concerned about optimizing near term profits.

GM likely won’t make a meaningful push to promote/support high volume all-electric sales until competing all-electric car sales materially start eating into GM’s ICE truck & ICE SUV market share… let’s say that’s 3-5 years out… then it will take GM another 2-3 years after that to gear-up for high volume all-electric production assuming they by then already have in-hand engineered production intent all-electric truck & SUV concepts which likely they will.

So all added ip it will be 5-8 years before we see high volume all-electric sales from GM.

continued…

So all added up it will be 5-8 years before we see high volume all-electric sales from GM.

That 5-8 years timeframe coincides with how long it will be before there is a robust *installed* convenient & reliable fast charge network in USA & Western Europe (not called Tesla) to support high volume all-electric car sales… absolutely one needs the other to support high-volume EV sales… meaning selling beyond early adopters.

This timeframe reality likely is similar for all the traditional car makers. Which means Tesla has a good chance to continue to dominate the INSIDEVs Sales Scorecard for next 5 years.

Will be interesting to see how large Tesla is able to grow and how more advanced Tesla EVs will become within next 5 years.

I’m convinced the biggest issue with Volt and Bolt EV success is the dealers, along with lack of supply at times*. This week, I literally sold 3 Volts to my co-workers. I found some good deals at a dealership 30 minutes away and advertised it on our forums. People asked me questions and jumped on the deals. If the dealer knew anything about the car, they could sell them just as easily.

With those 3, the total Volts I have sold to co-workers at my company total over 10. I should get a commission and GM dealers should get a clue. 😉

* Supply note, we’re not at a statistically relevant sales volume to try to match supply to demand. Until people can go to a dealership and with relative ease buy a color and option configuration they want, you don’t have an accurate gauge of true mass market demand.

Wanna buy my ’17 Volt? Was a good lease but I’d gladly get out of it to move into a BEV instead. Suspect I’m not alone on that.

GM has made it crystal clear that their next generation EV platform will debut dozens of models launched from 2021 through 2023. That is not 5 to 8 years out. Also CCS should surpass superchargers within a year in North America.

Ok well, I don’t trust them. With Lutz’s retirement they have no one publicly defending EV’s in fact. The spokesmen drop bromides about how great EV’s are, then discontinue 2 of the 3 models for sale, not including the very good ELR which they only made for a grand total of 12 months, yet it greatly outsold the Roadster, made over several years. Plus the Grotesque Pronouncement that all future ev’s will be made in China since that is where they HAVE to have them for sale (only optional in the USA), according to one commenter. The new Volt was good, but its reliability and safety was not up to the GEN 1 Volt, And now I fear that my BOLT ev with over 36,000 miles on it is having its battery life shortened right on schedule with the warranty for it. Should be at about 40% battery degradation by 100,000 miles, if the aging takes place linearly. Of course, if at 80,000 miles the battery has 41% loss and they change it under warranty, they’ll replace it with a used one that has 32% loss. Big deal. And its never been fast charged, and is only rarely fully charged.
Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed a pattern emerging… a familiar one. It is a focus on concept, rather than addressing the actual business at the moment. Volt ended up in an identity crisis as a result of this, twice. Mixed messages made it very difficult to sell. What was Volt’s purpose? Some believed it was designed to seamlessly transition to the gas-engine, delivering outstanding overall MPG. Others believed the goal was to drive EV almost exclusively, only having a gas-engine as a backup for “range anxiety” just in case. Why not just make battery-capacity just a little larger and not bother with a gas-engine at all? This is how Bolt came about. In fact, many enthusiasts claim that was the plan all along, that the EREV concept has served its purpose and GM simply plans to let Volt fade into history. In other words, if GM was to deliver a Voltec based vehicle, what specifically would it be? How many kWh capacity? How much HP output? How large should it be? How should it be priced? With so many unanswered questions of purpose, it is no surprise GM is waiting for the dust to settle before hitting… Read more »

GM answered that question when they unveiled the Volt, 40-mile all-electric range for the vast majority of your daily driving, extended range for, uhm, extended long-distance driving. Very tired of GM (and others) not taking responsibility, not standing behind their products, and blaming everything and everyone else instead.
The only thing that is wrong with the Volt is GM ‘s leadership.

GM leadership changed their message, from “40 miles all electric” to 53 miles AER. That in itself derailed the understanding of purpose.

They made it worse by not keeping it clear what Volt was competing against.

The Volt has been competing with and threatening everything, with gas-powered to “self-charging” (FU Toyota) hybrids to fully electric compacts, to larger vehicles that people realized they didn’t need. It still does as long range fully electric vehicles are being taken advantage of with a shoddy and expensive charging infrastructure.

They increased it since gen 1 volt owners were desirous of a car that would go 50 miles without using gas. It was one of the rare times GM allowed User Feedback to aid in design.

Toyota is SLOW, but Honda has the superior hearing: 47 miles range, good gas mileage when the battery is finally empty, plus they put the thing in a Mid-Sized car since many complain the Volt is too small.

>> They increased it since gen 1 volt owners were desirous of a car that would go 50 miles without using gas. It was one of the rare times GM allowed User Feedback to aid in design.

That is exactly what not to do when you are trying to adapt a niche to appeal to mainstream buyers. There were many warnings about not taking advice from early-adopters too. Knowing that’s how many have fallen into the innovator’s dilemma trap, GM followed through anyway.

GM should have retained the “40 mile” capacity, allowing the battery-pack to shrink to provide size, weight, and cost improvement. At the same time, focus on making the interior more common of a fit and less of an emphasis on performance.

The results of not doing that have been disasterous. Sales didn’t increase and now Volt is being discontinued without a successor established. The technology should have been spread to other choices by not. That was key to hybrid success.

GM’s failure to focus on the correct audience was a terrible choice.

“At the same time, focus on making the interior more common of a fit and less of an emphasis on performance.”

So the Gen 2 went from 4 seats to 5(ish).

Meanwhile the Prime is only 4 seats, down from the Plug in Prius’s 5 seats. How’s that fit into your “more common of a fit” mantra?

Star Trek John doesn’t let facts get in the way of his thoughts. The Volt still is the most popular plug-in in the States. When you mention that to him he says it doesn’t matter.

The Volt is very very popular in the Buffalo, NY area – as is the Prius Prime, but sales of the new Volt are the clear leader.

We’ll have to see if Toyota pays any attention to the competition they get from Honda.

Early-Adopter sales don’t matter. That $7,500 tax-credit distorts the impression of demand.

When competing against the true competition… GM’s own product-line sharing their dealer’s showroom floor… the loss of that generous subsidy come the end of March 2019 is why production will be ending then.

Know your audience. Prius Prime targets families with children grown up. Toyota made that very clear as to how their buyers have changed. You want something for an earlier age, you purchase an upcoming plug-in hybrid instead. RAV4 hybrid as a Prime model would be quite compelling for that audience.

Seating wasn’t the issue with Volt anyway… which is why the middle spot is legless, only for a small child. The issue is headroom wasn’t improved. That often complained about shortcoming actually got a tiny but reduced with gen-2. What was GM thinking?

Good thing Honda forgot most of Toyota’s design cues for the Prius Prime and made their own decisions, like making it a Mid-Size, and putting a decent battery and charger in it.

But Touche – the Prime is somewhat better at some things, than the new narrower Volt.

GM invested a lot ($1-2B IIRC) in the 2nd-gen Volt — a redesign, not a facelift — which only started selling in late 2015 (as a 2016 model), and they’re now discontinuing it after ~3 years. It doesn’t look like that enough to fully amortize the expense. It seems clear that they could have sold more both by marketing it more aggressively, as well as offering larger models with the same drivetrain (say, a midsize crossover and/or larger mid-size sedan/liftback, like the Malibu), even with the same battery size.
Very uncear WTF they’re actually planning or thinking.

Wavelet, indeed! I’ve seen more commercials for the Outlander PHEV in the past 6 weeks than commercials for the Volt, ever, and yet the US sales numbers for the Outlander PHEV are one/sixth that of the Volt. Hard to believe that GM couldn’t spare a few million on marketing after spending a few billion making the Volt.

The Volt was likely the best PHEV (really EREV) that will ever be made, since the industry will now move toward BEVs. It won’t be the first product killed by poor management and anti-American bias.

The fact that anyone buys the Prius Prime when the Volt and Clarify PHEV were available shows many people are just Toyota lemmings who refuse to do research or open their eyes.

BUT BUT BUT, You don’t get wave glass with Volt !

I’ll have to do a good check in the springtime, but I’m disappointed by the battery deterioration in my Bolt ev with easy handling of it, and probably should have bought the new Volt – but there again people say it isn’t as reliable as the first.

Hey Bill, do you use Hilltop reserve to limit full charges to 90%, or top it off to 100%?

Very rarely do I go to 100%. Most of the time it is 90% or less. And of course, it is never fast charged. I’ll have to wait for the springtime to do a range test, but so far I’m a bit down on it. Seems more like a Nissan product than a GM one – but we’ll see. As I said elsewhere, with over 36,000 miles on it, if it degrades linearly from this point it should be slightly less than the warranty trip point just before 100,000 miles of 40% degradation.

I’m with Trump with this issue. Kill good paying jobs that trickle to the rest of local economy and send those jobs to China where the get a boost in their economy

Trump doesn’t help the situation at all. He keeps saying how green technology is costing jobs and money, yet he fails to realize that much of the economy can be made up of high tech jobs developing and selling green technology. Instead he would rather see tomorrow’s technology owned by China.

Not everyone can do high text jobs. You still need manufacturing jobs period

Yes i agree too. GM produces EV in China to export to USA. Block it with a tariff of 100% or more. Let GM builds and invests in USA and then exports to the world. Otherwise GM can bankrupt with no complains

China’s economy is in the crapper, and Trump and Ping are a couple apes throwing what goes in there at each-other.

With moving to flat packs instead of t-shaped packs, makes sense to close down the small facility and move pack production to a common source.

I have been thinking that a likely scenario for GM, Ford and Fiat/Chrysler is that they would outsource the drivetrain to companies like LG, Samsung, and Panasonic. It looks like Ford may be doing that with VW, and whoever is VW’s battery supplies (CATL?). I am still predicting that GM reveals a new EV in January (sort of like the Bolt reveal), but if that is the case they will probably have out-sourced the drivetrain to LG again. This is obviously risky, because there is little product differentiation and the suppliers get to keep that part of the margin, but I guess if you don’t have the knowledge and infrastructure to actually make the drivetrain, then that is the only viable option. The one thing that may work out OK for the legacy car makers is that all the battery competition will make it very difficult to make much money on batteries. By the time they could build a battery factory, design a decent battery, and start production, the margins could be so thin that they would never recover the investment, Apple makes a ton of money on the iPhone, but the margins of the companies that actually them is… Read more »

Yeah, that’s why GM already hit 200,000
On EV credits. They don’t have a clue how to do anything. NOT.

Give it a break.

Why can’t I get an S10 electric or even a phev? Come on GM. It cannot be that hard.

GM doesn’t want to make a high volume low maintenance vehicle. It would hurt their Stealerships right smack dab in their profit center.

Unfortunately for GM, the Voltec ship has sailed.

Had they been even the slightest bit bold they would have scaled up their class-leading Voltec sytem and started putting it 5 years ago it into larger vehicles especially SUVs/CUVs and trucks.

If they had had the courage to do that in higher volumes to bring down per unit costs then they would be in a dominant position regarding plug-in vehicles now instead of being a laggard getting out of cars to make more gas-guzzling trucks whose sales will wilt when gas goes above $5/gallon again.

In any case GM and all the other laggard, legacy LICE makers have ceded the pole position on plug-in vehicles to Tesla and gifted Tesla the chance to become the dominant brand in compelling EVs.

S10? That was discontinued in 2004 (except in Brazil, IIRC). And a compact pickup with significant towing ability & range would be rather expensive.

GM never ceases to amaze me with their backwards thinking. I would have liked to have stayed with GM but, here’s my next PHEV: Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid PHEV (with AWD!). Subaru seems to be on the right track with an affordable PHEV. GM had it and blew it. The public will now think Volt was a big mistake because GM dropped it cold instead phasing it into a crossover. Glad I sold my GM stock.

Had anyone paid attention years ago GM announced the last year for Volt would be 2018 and it was.

I own a Volt and I’m getting TIRED of the bailed out GM that I supported with MY tax dollars; building electric cars only for China!
Keep it up GM!! I stayed away from you for almost 30 years,….. I have no problem staying away another 80 years!!! And I’ll convince my children to do the same!!!!

Layoffs don’t mean much in the auto industry. GM laid off thousands of workers at it’s truck plants for months at a time when they re-tooled for new models. It’s very common for there to be layoffs when in transition. GM didn’t say they were closing Brownstown. Which means they have plans for it in the future. The layoffs are likely temporary while they transition for future models.

GM HATES the unions and seizes every opportunity to play hardball with them. Some believe unions are sucking the life from our manufacturing industries and on some points they may be right, but I still say they’re vital. Wish I could say the future looked brighter. What GM does now will be copied by Ford if successful. Maximize profits by getting rid of unions, receiving government concessions and special deals or pulling out to a better offer is the new norm. How’s all that deregulation working for ya now?
And those sloppily written corporate tax cuts sure seem to be bringing the jobs back…..
to China, South Korea, Mexico, etc.
If your battery suppliers contracts are too expensive to allow profitability, where else can you easily cut expenses?
Making a better quality car that deserves a higher price doesn’t seem to be an option to them.