Fixed Chevy Bolt Batteries Are on the Way

A month following the start of a recall of all Chevrolet Bolt EVs ever made and the halt of battery production for the vehicles, General Motors says that LG returned to building battery packs after it has enacted new manufacturing processes. The batteries for all Bolt vehicles were recalled earlier this month after GM indicated that two rare defects—a torn anode and a folded separator—could cause a battery fire if both are present in the same battery pack.

The recall had prompted a rare halt in production of the Bolt hatch and EUV themselves, as GM was unsure that supplier LG could reliably manufacture new batteries without the defects. The automaker has now stated that LG has enacted new manufacturing processes, and has also worked with the automaker to enhance its quality assurance processes.

GM now says that dealers will begin receiving replacement battery modules in mid-October, with the automaker prioritizing Chevy Bolt EV and EUV owners whose vehicles were built during timeframes where the automaker believes the defective batteries were clustered. The replacement batteries will include an 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty.

About two months from now the automaker also plans to introduce a new advanced diagnostic software package that will be aimed at increasing battery charging parameters over the current settings. The software will require dealer installation.

“The diagnostic software will be designed to detect specific abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery in Bolt EVs and EUVs by monitoring the battery performance; alerting customers of any anomalies; and prioritizing damaged battery modules for replacement,” the automaker said. “It is GM’s intent that further diagnostic software will allow customers to return to a 100 percent state of charge once all diagnostic processes are complete.”

However, GM is reiterating its prior notice regarding the state of charge limitations, as well as where Bolts should be parked once they’re charged. The automaker is still telling owners to park vehicles outside immediately after a charging session, and not to leave them charging indoors overnight. In addition, owners should set their cars to a 90% state of charge limitation using the Target Charge Level mode, for which it has provided instructions. Also, owners should still continue to avoid depleting the battery below a range of 70 miles.

“We’re grateful for the patience of owners and dealers as we work to advance solutions to this recall,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Resuming battery module production is a first step and we’ll continue to work aggressively with LG to obtain additional battery supply. In addition, we’re optimistic a new advanced diagnostic software will provide more convenience for our customers.”

The recall is still expected to be quite a pricey one for General Motors and LG, with the details of financial contribution by LG to be announced. The replacement process itself, slated to be performed by dealers, is still expected to take months to unfold and will require LG to increase battery production to cope with the process—something that’s already in the works. GM said this week that the supplier’s plants in Hazel Park and Holland, Michigan, have restarted battery production for the Bolt vehicles, in addition to adding capacity to the plants as needed.

The recall itself is still expected to carry a price tag of $1.8 billion for the automaker—a significant sum at an inopportune time just as the GM readies a new generation of batteries and EVs.


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