General Motors has issued a stop-sale order for the all-electric Chevrolet Blazer. As previously reported, the model has been criticized for presenting reviewers with electrical problems. That’s not what you want to see from any vehicle and absolutely intolerable on an EV. Even worse is the fact that the Blazer EV uses the Ultium platform GM claims is about to underpin its future lineup.
The automaker is telling dealers to pause sales so it can address problems with charging and the infotainment system. However, the solution seems to be the obligatory “software update” every company leads off with when it’s looking like recall time.
As of yet, no formal recall has been announced. But General Motors claims it has teams working 24/7 to address the issue. It’s also trying to downplay the problems as much as possible, referencing concerns as limited in number and suggesting they have nothing to do with the new Ultium battery platform or the infotainment system’s built-in Google tech.
Considering how much GM has invested into Ultium as it pivots toward all-electric powertrains, this isn’t surprising. It also needs to be said that businesses trying to pioneer any new technology tends to come with some unpleasant growing pains. But General Motors is already putting these vehicles on the road and reviewers have noticed Ultium products suffering more than usual. The Fast Lane Truck noted electrical problems with the GMC Hummer that made it un-drivable, requiring help from the dealership and a software flash. Meanwhile, both Edmunds and InsideEVs recounted similar problems with the Chevy Blazer EV.
Automotive News reported the stop-sale order was issued late on Friday, when people would be preoccupied with the holiday weekend. “We’re aware that a limited number of customers have experienced software-related quality issues with their Blazer EV. Customer satisfaction is our priority and as such, we will take a brief pause on new deliveries,” stated Global VP of Chevrolet Scott Bell.
Those “quality issues” included repeat crashing of infotainment systems and problems charging. InsideEVs said it received feedback from readers claiming that they had likewise endured issues with Ultium-based products — including the Chevrolet Blazer EV, GMC Hummer, and Cadillac Lyriq.
“[Three days later,] we took it to the dealer. No one seemed to know what to do,” wrote Andrew Kozar, who noticed his Blazer EV acting up after just five days of ownership. “After two weeks a tech was finally able to reproduce the issue (after some insistent prodding from myself with picture proof I was not making it up.) They decided to do a software update that bricked both the infotainment system AND gauge cluster rendering it useless. Because no speedometer means to driving. We are currently waiting on a replacement module and on week three of the dealer having my car. I was lucky enough to drive it five days issue-free.”
Considering how reliant modern vehicles are on touchscreens, having one go out typically means that’s it until the vehicle can be repaired. But the Blazer EVs were said to be throwing out all sorts of codes indicating that various on-board systems were having trouble communicating with one another. Mr. Kozar even stated that the radio module his dealership installed as part of the infotainment fix wouldn’t interface with the rest of the vehicle, leaving technicians bewildered.
Charging errors have also been reported when customers have attempted DC fast charging, with InsideEVs noting that GM and Electrify America are both still working on figuring out what happened with its Blazer test vehicle. Nobody seems to have any answers yet, with some customers suggesting that dealerships don’t seem to know what to do with the vehicles. Many of the fixes have also resulted in Ultium vehicles simply charging extremely slowly, regardless of what they’re plugged into.
As of now, there are only a few thousand Ultium products on the road and most appear to be fully functional. However, it would be untrue to say that the frequency of the above problems isn’t a little alarming. You don’t normally see multiple reviewers have cars unravel like this during testing. While your author has been in situations where an infotainment screens become suddenly unresponsive or a surprise warning light appears, those instances are incredibly rare and never result in the vehicle becoming totally un-drivable.
General Motors seems to believe that the Blazer EV just needs some new code. But it apparently cannot do this via over-the-air (OTA) updates. Customers will have to bring their electric vehicle to dealer service centers for the hands-on approach.
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