GM is Suspending Bolt EV Production Until at Least Oct 15 Following Latest Recall Over Battery Fires

GM is Suspending Bolt EV Production Until at Least Oct 15 Following Latest Recall Over Battery Fires

Author: FutureCar Staff    

U.S. automaker General Motors will not resume production of the Chevy Bolt EV until at least Oct 15, until its confident that the fix to eliminate the risk of battery fires in the Chevy Bolt is complete, Reuters reported on Thursday.

In July, GM issued a second recall for roughly 69,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs worldwide for fire risks after reports of two battery fires. In late August, that recall was extended to include roughly 141,000 vehicles. GM now has an active recall on all Bolt EVs produced through the 2022 model year.

The Bolt EV has been on sale since Dec 2016. 

GM originally planned to resume production by Sept 24, but the automaker said last week was dealing with a "battery pack shortage." Then last week another reported battery fire occurred while a Bolt EV was parked in a customer's garage which prompted GM to extend the production shutdown until its confident that it can fully mitigate the risk of battery fires.

Earlier this month, GM said it's still working to find a fix with its battery supplier LG Chem.

GM has been dealing with battery problems with the Bolt EV since last year. The 2017-2019 model year Bolt EVs were first recalled in Nov. 2020 due to the potential of a fire in the vehicle's high-voltage battery pack. 

For the initial recall last year, GM dealers installed improved diagnostic software and limited the battery state of charge to just 90%. GM said the risk of fire is increased when the Bolt's battery is charged to full, or very close to full capacity. However, a fire was reported in a Bolt EV that had already had the software update installed, which prompted the second recall of 69,000 vehicles in July.

In the meantime, GM advised owners to park their Bolt EVs outside overnight.

GM said it will replace defective battery modules as needed, but depending on how many battery modules will need to be replaced in Bolt models the cost could be as high as $1 billion. 

The battery in the Bolt EVs is warrantied by GM for 8 years or 100,000 miles, so customers won't have to pay for any repairs. But some Bolt EV owners are angry about the situation, especially those without access to outdoor parking, such as in apartment buildings and condominiums with enclosed parking garages. 

GM expects LG Chem to pay for the recall since its supplied the defective batteries. The $1 billion cost to replace defective battery modules is on top of the $800 million GM said it will cost for the original Bolt recall in Nov 2020. 

In a press release on Aug 20, the automaker said its "pursuing commitments from LG for reimbursement of this field action."

For GM the fallout from the battery fires comes as the automaker is in the midst of its transition to electrification as it looks to compete with Tesla, which is now the world's most valuable automaker.

In June, GM made public its massive commitment to the electrification of its model lineup. The company announced it was increasing its investments in electrification and autonomous driving technologies to $35 billion through 2025 as it plans for an "all-electric future" with dozens of new battery-powered models in the works, many with autonomous driving capability.

Last November, GM announced it would deliver 30 new EVs by 2025 globally, with roughly two-thirds of them for customers in North America. The automaker also said it will add additional U.S. assembly capacity for electric SUVs, which is one of the most popular body styles for consumers.

With its bold plans, GM is aiming to be the market leader in EVs in North America, as well as a global leader in battery and fuel cell technology with its new Ultium battery platform and HYDROTEC fuel cells. 

But the recent battery problems with the Bolt EV could cause consumers to lose confidence in GM's EVs, at least for the short term. It also might steer future EV buyers to its competitors instead.

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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