General Motors' CAMI Assembly electric vehicle plant in Ingersoll, Ontario has reportedly closed for the month and idled its workforce unexpectedly.

According to The London Free Press (via Electrek) citing the Unifor union representing the workers, the reason for the closure is a battery shortage. The factory assembles the BrightDrop Zevo 600 and Zevo 400 electric delivery vans, which are powered by GM's Ultium battery. 

Since there's high demand for the Ultium battery in other GM electric vehicles, the automaker decided to temporarily close CAMI Assembly. Limited production of BrightDrop vans will shutter the plant despite strong sales, said Mike Van Boekel, Unifor Local 88 chairperson.

"They're out at all GM plants, they need batteries and it stems from a raw material bottleneck. Sales are through the roof. Things are good, but we just don't have batteries," said Van Boekel.

He added that CAMI Assembly has about four years of orders on the books and "GM is building more batteries, but it doesn't happen overnight."

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

General Motors employs about 1,500 people at the site in Ingersoll. Before the shutdown, workers were on rotating shifts, two weeks on and four weeks off, to keep everyone employed. Workers were making 60 percent of their pay from employment insurance benefits and a top-up when off the job.

Understandably, GM's decision to close the plant for the rest of the month did not go down well with the staff. "People are frustrated. They want to work, they want to make money. Costs keep going up," said Van Boekel. Workers are expected to return to work July 31.

GM currently makes Ultium batteries only at the Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown, Ohio, but plans to open a second in Tennessee in 2024 and a third in Michigan in 2025.

However, sources close to CAMI Assembly have reported GM Canada is building a 400,000-square-foot (37,200-square-metre) addition to the Ingersoll plant where the carmaker will assemble its own batteries for the BrightDrop vans. According to industry analysts, GM is on track to sell more than 70,000 EVs this year, mostly Bolt EV and EUV which do not feature Ultium batteries.

Electric vehicle batteries use metals including lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Much of these metals are sourced overseas, with China a major producer. There are looming threats worldwide of shortages for nickel, lithium, graphite, and cobalt.

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