GM Replacing Battery Modules On Recalled Chevy Bolts

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 8 comments
  • Akear Akear on Aug 18, 2021

    Fortunately, GM does not sell a lot of these. As this happens Tesla pulls further ahead. With the exception of the Corvette and a few Cadillac sedans does GM produce anything that is desirable.

  • OzarksAccountant OzarksAccountant on Aug 19, 2021

    Subjective of course, but GM seems to be the poster child for recalls these days.

  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.
  • ChristianWimmer When these came out I thought they were hideous: now they’ve grown on me. This one looks pretty nice. Well-maintained, low mileage and some good-looking wheels that aren’t super fancy but not cheap-looking or boring either, they are just right.
  • Aja8888 Someday in the far away future, all cars will look the same, people will be the same color, dogs will be all mixed beyond recognition, and governments will own everything. That car looks like my son's Hyundai Tucson without badges.
  • Tassos Of course, what the hell did you expect? A SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL car you can ACTUALLY USE AS YOUR DAILY DRIVER???............. NOOOOO, THIS IS TIM WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. SO HE FINDS SOME OBSOLETE POS WHICH IS 22 years old, .............AND HE PURPOSELY MISSES THE BEAUTIFUL MODEL, THE Classical Beauty E39 that ended in 2003. ...........So he uses his column as a WASTEBASKET once again, to throw the first year of BMWs BANGLED 5 series (as in the INFAMOUS CHRIS BANGLE WHO SCREWED UP THE DESIGN ROYALLY). ................................................ As Dr. Evil, Fake Doctor Jill Biden would scream at the top of her voice, so her senile idiot husband could hear her, "Good Job, (Tim)! You answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes!" ..... KEEP UP THE S---Y work, Tim!