GM taps Honeywell’s Quality Control System for Ultium battery plant

The Chevrolet Bolt recall has been so frustrating for General Motors that the automaker made an unexpected show of public hopelessness in saying it was “not confident” that LG — which produces the Bolt’s batteries — could produce batteries without defects. Even though the remark came before investigation teams founds the source of the Bolt battery issue, it was even more strange considering GM and LG are still in bed together, the two having invested more than $2.3 billion in a 2.8-million-square-foot plant to make GM’s Ultium batteries in Lordstown, Ohio. Now that GM has even more motivation to keep its Ultium batteries free of scandal, GM has tapped Honeywell for that company’s Quality Control System at the Lordstown facility.

The Honeywell QCS will monitor four of the production lines at the facility using “high-precision scanners and basis weight sensors.” One of the parameters measured will be electrode coat weight, a key stat in battery performance. Another measurement and control company wrote, “Improving the electrode coating process is a significant part of the equation to delivering better quality and better performing cells – and coating uniformity is seen more and more as a critical requirement.” Honeywell says it has more than 20 years of experience with lithium-ion technology, and the firm is already found throughout the green economy.

A GM spokesman made sure to say that “the awarding of the Ultium contract to Honeywell has nothing to do with the Bolt recall.” Yet in the Honeywell press release, a company director spoke words that could have come straight from GM, with, “Given the opportunity at hand, battery manufacturers such as Ultium Cells must be able to bring new solutions to market with confidence.”

The new Lordstown facility is scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year. It will employ more than 1,100 workers building the prime movers for coming EVs like the new Hummer and the Cadillaq Lyriq. Ideally, before then, GM will have found and fixed all of the Bolts with issues, and can begin its Ultium era under sunny skies. The automaker started accepting LG batteries again last week, the new batteries should begin reaching dealers around the same time Bolt production resumes on October 11.

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