GM Announces Fix for Chevrolet Bolt EVs to Address Fire Risk
The automaker readies a hardware replacement and a software update and revises parking advice
General Motors has announced a combination hardware and software solution to the battery problem in the Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV that led to a series of recall notices over fire risks. It has lifted the previous guidance to park 50 feet away from other cars and structures, instead saying customers who are following GM’s charging instructions can park in a location of their choice.
A spokeswoman for LG, the battery supplier, tells CR, “GM and LG have identified the presence of two rare simultaneous defects, found in the same battery cell, made during module manufacturing process.” GM explained that the cause is a torn anode tab and folded separator within the battery modules.
The LG spokeswoman says that’s the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevy Bolt EVs. She also says this particular problem is not related to one reported with the Hyundai Kona EV and that the defects have been taken care of in manufacturing. After a hiatus, LG has resumed battery production, and it has increased manufacturing capacity to provide cells to use as replacements for the recall.
General Motors announced that LG will reimburse the automaker for costs and expenses associated with the recall of Chevrolet Bolt EVs and EUVs due to manufacturing defects in battery modules, projecting the supplier will pay $1.9 billion of the $2 billion cost.
GM told CR that it will replace all modules in 2017-2019 Bolt EVs and will replace defective modules in 2020-2022 Bolt EV/EUVs. The battery pack is made up of many individual components, including the case, electronics, and wiring that are not defective and therefore do not need replacing. These new modules will come with an eight-year, 100,000-mile limited warranty.
GM says it will prioritize customers who have Bolts at the highest risk for the problem.
In addition, the company will distribute a new diagnostic software package “designed to detect specific abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery in Bolt EVs and EUVs by monitoring the battery performance and alerting customers of any anomalies.”
Once all the diagnostic processes have been run, the software will allow customers to safely charge the vehicles to 100 percent, up from the current 90 percent—a temporary restriction recommended to reduce fire risk. This software will need to be installed by a dealership, and it will become available in about 60 days.
Until then, GM advises:
• Set the vehicle to a 90 percent state of charge limitation using Target Charge Level mode. Instructions on how to do this are available on Chevrolet’s recall page. If customers are unable to successfully make these changes or do not feel comfortable making these changes, GM is asking them to go to their dealer to have these adjustments completed.
• Charge the vehicle more frequently and avoid depleting battery below approximately 70 miles (113 kilometers) of remaining range, where possible.
• Continue to park vehicles outside immediately after charging and do not leave vehicles charging indoors overnight.
This action expanded a previous Chevrolet Bolt recall to include all Bolts from the 2017 to 2022 model years because of the risk of a battery-related fire. This recall now includes the new Bolt EUV, as well, more than doubling the number of cars involved to about 110,000.
Before this recall was announced, Consumer Reports purchased a 2022 Bolt EUV for our testing program and as a result of the recall, we are following all of GM’s recommendations about charging and parking.
Vehicles recalled: About 110,000 Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV EVs from the 2017 through 2022 model years.
The problem: The vehicle’s batteries may catch fire.
The fix: There is both a hardware replacement and a software update to correct the battery problem. GM will replace all modules in 2017-2019 Bolt EVs and will replace defective modules in 2020-2022 Bolt EV/EUVs. The work will be done by Chevrolet dealerships at no charge to the owner.
How to contact the manufacturer: Call Chevrolet EV customer service at 833-382-4389.
NHTSA campaign numbers: For 2017 to 2019, 21V560000; for 2020 to 2022, 21V650000. GM’s number for this recall is N212343880.
Check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall: NHTSA’s website will tell you whether your vehicle has any open recalls that need to be addressed.
If you plug your car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) into NHTSA’s website and a recall doesn’t appear, it means your vehicle doesn’t currently have any open recalls. Because automakers issue recalls often, and for many older vehicles, we recommend checking back regularly to see whether your vehicle has had a recall issued.