Today GM reported that it would be initiating a recall of around four million cars due to a software defect in their airbag deployment system. Customers will have to bring their cars to their local GM dealers where they will update the software free of charge.
Coincidently, the announcement of the recall is arriving just days after Pam Fletcher, Chief Executive Engineer at General Motors, stated that over-the-air (OTA) programming would be coming to the Bolt EV when she was speaking at a conference earlier this week.
Fletcher went on record, while at the Citi Global Technology Conference, to state that OTA updates or “software download capability” would be coming to the Bolt EV in the next year or so.
Miss Fletcher emphasized that her engineers are focused on cyber security:
“we take that [cyber security] very seriously and we were the first major automaker to establish a dedicated cyber security team. Our Chief Cyber Security Officer Jeff Massimilla, is the Vice-Chairman of the Auto ISAC Alliance along Cyber Security, so we take it very seriously and we really wanted to have all the necessary safeguards in place so that we could do over the air programming safely and securely on the Bolt EV.”
While GM is citing focusing on security before deploying over-the-air update capability in its fleet, its dealer network could also be an issue. Even though it’s free of charge to customers, the dealerships are being compensated since it’s a manufacturing/ engineering problem.
OTA updates are seen as a practical way to save resources for situations like GM is in right now. The ~4 million customers wouldn’t have to take time out of their day to go the dealer.
Fixing the problem over-the-air would be beneficial to both GM and the customers, but not the dealerships. Back in 2014, both GM and Tesla had to issue the same recall due to a software issue with charging connectors. Tesla was able to send the fix over-the-air while GM customers had to go to their local dealer.
As you probably know, Tesla doesn’t use the third-party dealership model. It owns its retail and service locations.
Other details that Fletcher reiterated about the Bolt EV include the price tag of “around $30,000 after incentives” (meaning $37,500 before), 200 miles of range, and 0-60 mp/h (0-100 km/h) in under 7 seconds.