Chevy broke their nearly 3-month silence since the Bolt recall to provide a small update via a Facebook group comment.
Ever since the November 13 Bolt EV Battery Recall announcement, eager Chevrolet Bolt owners have been waiting to hear about the progress of the recall. The temporary fix, which owners have been urged to go to the dealership to have applied for free, reduces the charge limit to 90%. (Well, 95% actually, more on that later.) GM and LG Engineers are diligently working to resolve the issue.
The Bolt recall isn’t the only one
For those of you not keeping score, this isn’t the only LG related battery recall that has been going on lately. Hyundai did a similar recall to all their Kona EVs a month earlier. The Kona uses a very similar, but not identical, battery to the Bolt’s 2017-2019 model years. LG then also recalled some home stationary battery systems a month after the Bolt’s recall. All of this has fueled suspicions that it is more than just a localized problem and something more systemic in their entire battery technology. None of these recalls have been resolved yet. (I wonder if Tesla is having second thoughts about using LG?)
We’re at a tumultuous time for GM.
The company is in the middle of trying to convince the world that they are prepared for an all-electric future, with their only Battery EV vehicle having a still unresolved battery recall. A post-temporary-fix Kona caught fire a couple weeks ago. Just a couple of days ago their Super Bowl Commercials emphasized their all electric future (while firing a few tongue-in-cheek shots at Norway). We’re just a few days away from their big Bolt EV refresh and new EUV model announcement scheduled for February 14 that they’ve teamed up with Disney for.
Well, today GM broke their silence via a comment on the Chevy Bolt EV Owners Facebook Group announcement post:
We wanted to comment here to address some of the common questions in this thread about the Bolt EV recall. While our engineers continue to work around the clock to make progress on a permanent fix, it’s important that impacted owners take steps to mitigate any risk. To learn if your Bolt EV is impacted, please visit: my.gm.com/recalls
Q: Do I need to visit my dealer for the software update or can I just charge to hilltop or 90%? Why?
A: We strongly encourage all owners affected visit their dealer to obtain the software update. This automatically sets the maximum charge to 90% and will provide peace of mind for the customer and prevent them from having to routinely verify the car is set to hilltop reserve.
Q: If I have not taken my car to the dealer for the software update, are there implications for my vehicle warranty?
A: No. The vehicle warranty would not be affected. We strongly encourage all owners affected visit their dealer to obtain the software update.
Q: Is the car safe to drive & have in my garage?
A: Based on our investigation to date and available data from verified incidents, our analysis indicates that reducing the state of charge to 90% will provide a safety margin and mitigate the risks of further incidents.
Q: Will the 90% charge limit be permanent? If so, what do you plan to do to make customers whole who expected a return to full range?
A: We’re continuing to investigate the root cause and our intention is to remove the 90% charge limit once the investigation has been completed and defective battery packs have been identified and replaced or repaired.Facebook comment link, posted February 9th 2021 at 4:23pm EST.
While this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking or significantly new information, it’s great to at least see an update has been provided.
It’s nice to finally see an update, but I fear that it’s not enough to assuage the worries of the owners.
Bolt owners have been very frustrated by this recall for a number of reasons. They’re worried about the safety of their car, they’re worried about the resale value, they’re frustrated by the reduction in range, and they’re frustrated by the lack of communication from GM. For a company loudly proclaiming their all-electric future, they sure are quiet with their currently electrified customers.
Further compounding this is a frustration over the reduction amount – is it 90%, or is it 95? Owners see their cars charging to 95% by the in-dash systems. This is also confirmed in the details collected from the OBD2 Bus through a diagnostics adapter. Chevrolet’s communication on this has been a little inconsistent, but they seem to be firmly still selling it as a 90% limit, or 10% reduction, even though it’s not. Their claim is that it’s 90% of a theoretical maximum charge – but by this measurement, the car could only charge to about 95% before anyway. (No, it’s not a buffer, that’s for another article.) So that explains the difference, but it’s a perplexing thing for GM to do. If they sold it as a 5% reduction, it would be a lot easier to swallow than a 10% reduction, but yet, they’ve chosen to insist on the latter. One can only assume that there is some legal reason behind this. Perhaps LG said to limit the charge to 90%, so that’s the way that it has to be said?
While it’s nice to know that the warranty isn’t affected if the owner chooses not to get the recall done, and confirms that the car is still safe to use, it leaves us wondering what the long term fix will be – especially while it appears that GM is doing some buybacks of some of the affected Bolts.
It looks like the intention is to remove the 90% restriction as soon as possible. We can assume, based on the wording in the last FAQ, that they intend to actually discover which packs are faulty and have a possibility to catch fire and replace those. Then everyone else goes back to normal. We can certainly hope that this is the case. Keeping in mind that only 5 packs have caught fire, out of 68,667 vehicles with batteries produced in South Korea; the lasting impact would be minimal if this was the case.
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