Fire Hazard: General Motors Replaces All Chevrolet Bolt Batteries

Fire Hazard: General Motors Replaces All Chevrolet Bolt Batteries

US automaker General Motors is expanding its recall program for the Chevrolet Bolt e-car to include all manufactured copies. Out of “maximum caution,” GM is now recalling models manufactured and sold internationally from 2019 to replace the batteries. Another 73,000 vehicles are affected, the group announced on Friday and put the additional cost at around US$1 billion (855 million euros).

GM called 69,000 Bolts manufactured from 2017 to 2019 to the workshop several times after some vehicles caught fire due to bad batteries. According to notification from manufacturer Individual battery cells manufactured by LG Chem in Korea may have two defects that can cause short circuits and fires. The faults are related to the flat plug at the anode and separator layer. A spokesman for the AP news agency said a total of 10 copies of the electric car have caught fire so far.

General Motors initially believed the fault was only in batteries manufactured by LG Chem at the factory in Ouchang, South Korea. Meanwhile, however, defects have also arisen in younger models whose batteries were manufactured in the United States by LG Chem. Meanwhile, LG Chem has outsourced its battery production to LG Energy Solutions.

When it was first called back in November 2020, the reason for this was not yet known. Because the fire started when the battery was fully charged, vehicles initially received a software update that limited the charge to 90 percent. In addition, the manufacturer recommended that the Bolt’s battery last no less than a quarter of its charge capacity, which significantly limits the range of the car.

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After discovering the technical cause of the fire, GM recalled the old bolts to workshops in May and installed another software update. Batteries should only be checked for possible faults and replaced if necessary when there is another recall in July.

The recall also affected the approximately 1500 Opel Ampera-E, which are technically largely identical to the Bolt, but were sold only to a limited extent after PSA took over the Opel. GM had priced the Bolt’s initial recall at around $800 million.

With the new recall, General Motors is expanding the exchange program to include all Bolt models. Their batteries should now be completely replaced, even if there is a fault. GM gives a guarantee of eight years and 160,000 kilometers on the new battery.

In October 2020, Hyundai first recalled the South Korea-made Kona due to fire risk and tried to catch up with a software update. Eventually, the manufacturer recalled all Kona and Ioniq Elektro models worldwide in February to replace the batteries. Their manufacturer, LG Energy Solutions, denied reports that the cause was a faulty battery cell.

Updates: Note added on affected Opel Ampera-E.


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