On December 8, 2021, Joe Biden signed an executive order to ban the use and sale of internal combustion engine cars by 2035, forcing consumers across America to purchase only battery-operated vehicles.
Biden’s reckless mandate is causing auto-manufacturing plants in the US to shut down and move their operations overseas. In Michigan, Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer is being widely criticized for bringing a battery-manufacturing company with ties to Communist China to Michigan to build batteries at a cost of $236 million to Michigan taxpayers, while Ford Motor Company, which is headquartered in Michigan, announced in October 2021, that it would open two major electric vehicle and battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky.
On October 5, 202s, Whitmer announced a $236 million incentive package for Our Next Energy, an electric vehicle battery startup that plans to build a factory in the Great Lakes State. Weeks later, the Democrat said she was “proud” to join the company’s founder and CEO, Mujeeb Ijaz, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which saw Whitmer laud Our Next Energy as “innovative,” “historic,” and “cutting-edge.” But Ijaz has a troubled history with public funding.
Before he launched Our Next Energy, Ijaz served as a top executive at fellow electric battery maker A123 Systems after founding its automotive division in 2008. One year later, A123 secured a $249 million grant from the Obama administration, with then-president Barack Obama predicting the company would “help power the American economy for years to come.” Instead, the opposite occurred. A123 lost $269 million during an eight-month period in 2012 alone, losses that were driven in part by the company’s production of defective battery cells for Fisker Automotive—on his LinkedIn, Ijaz specifically states he led A123’s production of “battery systems” for Fisker. In October 2012, A123 declared bankruptcy and was quickly sold to Chinese automotive conglomerate Wanxiang.
Only days before Christmas, Stellantis (formerly known as Fiat Chrysler) announced that the Jeep Cherokee SUV plant in Illinois would cease production on Feb. 28 and as a result, would indefinitely lay off more than 1,200 workers.
From CNBC– “Our industry has been adversely affected by a multitude of factors like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the global microchip shortage, but the most impactful challenge is the increasing cost related to the electrification of the automotive market,” Stellantis said in an emailed statement.
The company described the idling as a “difficult but necessary action.” It said it is “working to identify other opportunities to repurpose the Belvidere facility and has no additional details to share at this time.”
United Auto Workers President Ray Curry described the idling of the plant as “grossly misguided” and “unacceptable,”, especially during this time of year.
“Announcing the closure just a few weeks from the holidays is also a cruel disregard for the contributions of our members from UAW Locals 1268 and 1761. We will fight back against this announcement,” he said in a statement
It’s worth noting that in 2016 and again in 2020, the UAW heavily funded the campaigns of anti-American manufacturing Democrat presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
While American auto-manufacturing plants are being forced to move overseas to compete, the question of safety is also a major concern for American consumers who will be forced to purchase battery-operated vehicles.
In 2020, GM announced its first recall of the Chevy Bolt, which affected approximately 69,000 vehicles over potential battery fires. Then, in 2021, two more Bolts caught fire. An investigation between GM and LG Chem determined the cause was the “presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same cell.” This has prompted another recall by GM to replace the battery modules. This recall is said to cost GM in the region of $11,000 per vehicle, totaling nearly $800 million.
From the NHTSA government website: GM is expanding the current Chevrolet Bolt recall to include model year 2017-2022 Chevrolet Bolt vehicles. With this expansion, all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles are now recalled due to the risk of the high-voltage battery pack catching fire. The recall applies to all Bolt vehicles, including those that may have received an earlier recall repair for the fire risk issue.
At this time, GM is asking all Chevrolet Bolt vehicle owners to park their vehicles outside and away from structures, and to not charge the vehicles overnight. Additionally, GM is instructing owners of these vehicles to take the following actions:
NHTSA is aware of one fire with the interim remedy and three fires with the subsequent remedy. NHTSA opened an investigation (PE 20-016) in October 2020 and continues to evaluate the recall remedies and reported incidents, including fires.
In August 2021, Batteries News reported that GM isn’t the only manufacturer in hot water; Hyundai revised their operating profits after they had to recall around 82,000 EVs (mostly Konas but also IONIQs and Elec City buses) due to battery fire risks.
The total cost of this recall was estimated at $900 million, with LG Chem taking the majority of these costs. Ford’s Kuga plug-in hybrid also faced issues with cells supplied by Samsung, resulting in a recall of 33,000 cars costing Ford approximately $400 million.
On October 25, 2021, a Jaguar I-Pace that was charging next to a chemical warehouse in the Hungarian town of Székesfehérvár went up in flames. According to a report published by the local fire department, they had some trouble putting out the fire because, as is often the case with EV fires, it kept reigniting after it had apparently been extinguished.
In August, another Jaguar I-Pace battery caught on fire after simply sitting charging in a garage. This is the fourth known I-Pace battery fire that seemingly started on its own, which is starting to be significant considering the relatively small number of units on the roads.
In 2020, Gonzalo Salazar bought a new 2019 Jaguar I-Pace in Florida; he had been driving the electric car without issue for a few years until an incident in June 2022. Salazar described the incident in an email to Electrek:
On June 16, I plugged the car in before going to bed. On the morning of June 17, I woke up and unplugged the car. Later that morning, I set out to run some errands. I drove about 12 miles that morning before returning back home and parking the car back in the garage, leaving the garage door open. As I was doing things at home, I heard pops coming from the garage. I decided to go see where the sounds were coming from, and upon walking into the garage, I faced a thick wall of smoke. My thought immediately was, ‘When there is smoke, there is fire,’ and I need to get the car out of the house garage.
Here is a video taken by a neighbor showing the Jaguar I Pace on fire:
Jaguar also uses LG battery cells like the Bolt EV and Kona EV, which were both recalled for battery fire risks. Is this another Bolt EV battery fire situation?
Electrek reported on an early I-Pace catching on fire while parked in a driveway in the Netherlands back in 2018. Last year, another I-Pace caught on fire while parked in a driveway in Oregon. Another Jaguar I-Pace caught on fire while charging in Hungary last October.
Electrek contacted Jaguar about Salazar’s I-Pace fire and asked if the automaker has looked into a link between those four battery fires, especially as it relates to their LG battery cells.
Jaguar declined to answer our questions and responded with this statement:
Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC is committed to our customer’s safety, and we are aware of this I-PACE incident in Boynton Beach, FL. We have been in contact with and are cooperating with the customer’s insurance company expert regarding a vehicle inspection. JLRNA is unable to comment further on your questions until the investigation is completed.
Electrek’s take: I want to make it clear that fires are not a big electric vehicle risk; it is completely possible to make a safe battery pack with good battery cells that won’t catch on fire on their own. Again, as previously mentioned, a vehicle catching on fire after a crash is a different thing and certainly not unique to electric vehicles.
But these types of incidents where an EV catches on fire on its own while parked or charging is definitely something that needs to be looked into and potentially lead to a recall, like in the case of the Bolt EV.