What will happen if this spreads and includes whole charging networks?
GM’s $1.8 billion battery recall problem that concerns all of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Chevrolet Bolt EUV ever made appears to be worsening.
Lack of the battery modules, that are confirmed to be defect-free prompted GM to halt the production of both models. Meanwhile, another unit – a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV – recently caught fire, which might be related to the battery issue.
We believe that the total number of Bolt EVs fires that are associated with the battery manufacturing defects is still relatively small (below 20), but the fear is real not only among vehicle owners.
Most recently, Reddit user u/scarls13 (via Teslarati) posted a photo of a Chevrolet Bolt EVs ban at an outdoor parking lot in San Francisco.
“No parking for Bolts, as seen at an outdoor lot in San Francisco”
“For customer safety: CHEVROLET BOLT EVs are STRICTLY PROHIBITED from parking at this facility. Thank you for your compliance!”
It might be just one case, but who knows – maybe we will see more of such, depending on how the recall progresses.
Replacing more than 9 GWh of battery modules requires time, but first LG Chem’s LG Energy Solution must find and eliminate the cause of defects and start producing new batteries.
We are talking about months (in the best-case scenario) to more than a year (more likely), especially if GM would allocate some of the batteries for new car production. On top of that comes the physical operation of replacement at dealerships, which is not trivial at a scale of about 142,000 units (including about 100,000 in the U.S.).
To reduce the probability of a fire, Bolt owners are asked to not charge beyond 90% State of Charge (SOC) or discharge below approximately 70 miles (113 km) of the remaining range (which is close to 30% SOC, assuming roughly 250 miles of EPA range) and should keep the vehicles outside.
In other words, the vehicle owners have cars with limited usability (30-90% SOC window is just 60% of range – about 150 miles), safety concerns, reduced market value (at least until the problem issolved) and uncertainty about the future (like waiting a year for a new set of battery modules).
A big dose of bad luck and a couple more high-profile fires might spread the fear among other vehicle owners, parking lot owners, as well as charging networks, plus elevate insurance costs. A ban of certain models from parking or charging, applied on a big scale, would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before
A study says that “as many as 30 percent of all owners of affected Bolts and Bolt EUVs are still charging past 90 percent or allowing the range to drop lower than is recommended”. Well, the time is ticking and the havoc might spread.
The GM’s battery recall makes us really sad. The 2022 model year cars were really nice, small EVs, offered in relatively affordable price range. It would be bad to see them canceled. The other thing is the waste of 142,000 battery sets that could power new electric cars.
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