A 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV caught fire at a home in Cherokee County, Georgia on Sept. 13, 2021, according to the local fire department.
Cherokee County Fire Department
DETROIT — General Motors expects to begin replacing battery modules in Chevrolet Bolt EVs that were recalled due to fire risk as soon as next month, the company announced Monday.
The timing comes after the automaker’s battery supplier LG Chem restarted production of battery cells with updated manufacturing processes at plants in Michigan, GM said. Cell production went down last month following two rare manufacturing issues forcing GM to recall more than 140,000 of the EVs due to risk of the batteries spontaneously catching fire.
GM has confirmed 13 battery fires globally. The automaker has identified the problems as a torn anode and a folded separator, both of which need to be present in the same battery cell for a fire to occur. EV battery packs are made up of modules that hold the cells.
The recall is expected to cost the automaker $1.8 billion, some of which it is negotiating to recoup from LG Chem, according to GM. Depending on the vehicle, GM may have to replace some, if not all, of the modules.
In addition to shipping new battery modules to dealers beginning mid-October, GM also plans to roll out a software diagnostic update for battery monitoring in the next 60 days.
GM said the diagnostic software will be designed to detect specific abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery in Bolt EVs by monitoring the battery performance, alerting customers of any anomalies and prioritizing damaged battery modules for replacement.
Customers will have to take their Bolt EVs into a dealership for the battery module replacements as well as the software update. Owners will be able to start to schedule software installation in about 60 days, while GM has established a notification process that will inform affected customers when their replacement modules will be available.
The Vermont State Police released this photo of the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV that caught fire on July 1, 2021 in the driveway of state Rep. Timothy Briglin, a Democrat.
Vermont State Police
GM will prioritize Chevy Bolt customers whose batteries were manufactured during specific time frames when GM believes battery defects appear to be clustered.
“Resuming battery module production is a first step and we’ll continue to work aggressively with LG to obtain additional battery supply. In addition, we’re optimistic a new advanced diagnostic software will provide more convenience for our customers,” Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of product development, purchasing and supply chain, said in a release.
The recalled vehicles include all Chevy Bolt EVs produced since 2016, including a recently released larger version of the car known as the Bolt EUV.
Due to the battery problem, production of the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV has been down since Aug. 23 at a Michigan plant. GM last week confirmed manufacturing of those vehicles is not expected to resume until at least Oct. 15.
GM says owners with questions should visit www.chevy.com/boltevrecall, contact its Chevrolet EV help line at 1-833-EVCHEVY or contact their preferred Chevrolet EV dealer.