The Chevrolet Bolt has become the focus of negative attention following some fire incidents that were believed to be related to battery components. After two recalls, General Motors has decided to replace the battery modules of every model that could be impacted — rather than focusing on units with proven defects.
While it’s undoubtedly going to cost the company a fortune, this is probably the correct move. The implications of negative publicity stemming from repeat vehicle fires have a tendency to linger and be blown up to larger-than-life proportions. This is especially true if an automaker rushed that vehicle to market to better wrangle the segment. Just ask Ford about the Pinto if you’ve any doubts.
GM’s previous solution involved simply updating the software of all 2017-2019 model year Bolt EVs. However, one of those vehicles also caught fire and forced the automaker to double down on its recommendations to have Chevy customers park their cars outdoors a healthy distance from anything they might not want to see barbequed. Charging protocols were also issued, with owners being warned not to fully deplete the battery.
It also threw its supplier under the bus, citing South Korean manufacturer LG Chem’s Ochang facility in South Korea as having issued bunk hardware. Though LG has received additional criticism from other automakers who’ve used its batteries only to find themselves issuing fire-related recalls of their own (e.g. Hyundai).
The supplier has said it’s onboard to help General Motors to ensure recall efforts are carried swiftly and that the duo had jointly identified two manufacturing defects (claimed to be rare) that caused the fires. Those modules will no be replaced, without the need for the automaker to conduct an investigation of every vehicle. Customers can bring their vehicles to any GM service center for repairs, though it will need to be EV-certified to handle this particular recall.
In the meantime, it’s still recommending owners park their Bolts outdoors and charge them after each use to avoid having to keep them plugged in for longer than absolutely necessary. Ideally, the manufacturer doesn’t even want you to leave them unattended while charging. The software update is also supposed to be helpful, though it doesn’t seem to have been an effective remedy overall.
[Image: General Motors]
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