2020-2022 Chevy Bolt owners, starting yesterday evening, began receiving messages that their high voltage battery/module replacements would no longer be happening. Instead, a software diagnostics tool would be used to verify if the batteries had problems before a replacement would be performed. As you might imagine, affected Bolt owners are up in arms.
GM initiated a recall in 2021 after a small number of Bolts high voltage batteries caught fire. The battery replacements were to take place on all pre-existing Bolts with the affected LG battery packs. Basically, every 2017-2022 Chevy Bolt. See our Bolt Recall Guide for all the details here.
But things changed yesterday.
A Bolt Facebook group member said:
I got a call today from the Chevrolet Concierge letting me know that GM has come up with a software fix instead of replacing the main battery on 2020-2022 Bolts. They will install software that puts the vehicle back to allowing 100% charging and it monitors the car to see if there are any defects in the battery pack. Once it passes these tests they will remove the safety recall on your vehicle.
I made an appointment with my dealer to get this software installed next week. They told me that GM tested the removed batteries on 2020-2020 Bolts and found that most were not found to be defective so they did not need to be replaced.
Once the safety recall is removed I should be able to buy my car at the end of the 36 month lease in August or earlier.
Or perhaps they started changing in May when GM updated its recall documentation. A commenter, Dave Salman, found out that GM sneakily updated its recall documentation to the NHTSA:
Another document GM submits to NHTSA is a 573 report. There are 3 of these reports on the NHTSA website for the battery recall for 2020-2022 Bolts. (Links to follow) The first two are from 2021 and say the remedy is battery replacement. The latest is from May 2023 and says the remedy is “In certain vehicles that GM has determined may contain defective battery modules, the remedy is the replacement of the vehicle’s high-voltage battery pack. In all other vehicles, the remedy is the installation of advanced diagnostic software that will monitor battery performance and identify defective battery modules that require replacement.” In typical GM weasel word (or lack thereof) style the May 2023 document doesn’t highlight the change or explain what made the change possible. The new document is here https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2021/RCLRPT-21V650-3740.PDF The older documents are here https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2021/RCLRPT-21V650-4541.PDF and here https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2021/RCLRPT-21V650-2919.PDF
Here are screen grabs from the old (left) – and new as of May 2023 – documents:
Presented with the above, a GM spokesperson told us:
GM will provide owners of certain 2020-2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUVs covered under a previously announced recall a new advanced diagnostics software. The software will continually monitor the battery to detect any potential anomalies and, if none are detected after approximately 6,200 miles (10,000 km) of use, the battery will automatically return to 100% state of charge without a return trip to the dealer.
If an anomaly is detected, the software will alert the owner via a message on the driver information center and the owner should then contact their dealer to schedule a battery or module replacement.
The software is free and will need to be installed by their dealer via a brief service appointment.
Owners of certain 2020-2022 model year Bolt EV and EUVs, can start to schedule installation at their Chevy EV dealer June 13, 2023.
GM also clarified that ’20-22 Bolt owners were never promised new batteries. Instead they were promised fixed defective modules. Until yesterday, that was taking the form of replaced batteries however.
It is important to note here that this only applies to 2020-2022 Bolt owners. 2017-2019 Bolt owners should still receive a replacement battery. Jaguar, who use similar LG cells in its Magna-produced i-pace issued a similar remedy last week.
So the obvious problem here is that GM was initially offering new batteries to all 2020-2022 Bolt owners, and then slow-rolled the replacement. Some ’20-22 Bolts were resold with the promise of a new battery with new warranty en route; others got the battery if they were lucky.
’20-22 Bolt owners who didn’t get the new battery are pissed, even though this new software will allow Bolt owners that have been only charging to 80% for over a year to charge to 100% again. The software, if you believe GM at this point, will detect if there is a problem and if so, the battery replacement will again happen. If not, the 2020-2022 batteries will operate normally. These batteries have the increased 259 mile range on 65kWh over the 2017-2019 batteries which had 234 miles of range on 60kWh.
I have to conclude this is yet another comms ‘own goal’ from GM here. Getting ahead of this would have been advisable in my opinion rather than filling a Facebook and Reddit groups up with disoriented and angry Bolt owners.
Off the top of my head, GM could have:
- Told ’20-22 owners about the change so they don’t have to hear about it on Facebook (or Electrek!)
- Explained the reason for the change: Something like, “Only 1% of battery modules could be defective and our software will root these out”.
- Offered to make the battery warranty the same time duration as getting a new battery with a “GM Verified” on battery so it doesn’t hurt the resale value.
- Give those with diagnostics free Onstar and lifetime premium app features for their trouble. Maybe some more EVGO miles, tire rotations, $500 off Equinox, etc too?
- Thank them for their patience and tell/show them that they are valued.
But here we are. One Reddit user:
So I bought my 2021 bolt 3 months ago, contingent that it didn’t have the battery replaced yet because I wanted the new battery and warranty. Bought at 9.7k miles and currently have 12.2k miles. Bought it at a BMW dealer.
I’m at a loss atm, literally the only reason I bought a used bolt was basically getting a brand new vehicle after the replacement. I had options to buy a new one (weirdly various dealers had new ones around Central florida so I had plenty to choose from at the time). I got a decent deal on the car but now my thoughts are the car will be devalued compared to replaced battery’s, I don’t have a new warranty, I don’t know how the previous owner took care of the battery’s, I “settled” on an lt instead of getting something more loaded or new model. And I’ve been running at 80% since I bought the car so it’s been slightly an inconvenience on range.
Basically what is my course of action for this? If they add the software with a new warranty I guess that’d be comparable, but as it stands I don’t want this vehicle, I feel like I got conned and gm is taking the east way out and not paying the millions it would cost to replace the rest of the batterys.
Obviously consult a lawyer is #1 but what kind of lawyer? What do I ask for? Any help is appreciated thank you for your time
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