Following a recall and numerous class action lawsuits filed over Chevy Bolt EV battery problems, General Motors (GM) announced this week that it has developed a remedy to prevent electric vehicle battery fires which have plagued the company, and restore the ability of owners charge their EV to full capacity.
General Motors announced the long awaited Bolt EV battery fix this week, indicating it has developed a software update which will allow dealers to detect anomalies in the batteries, which have been found to cause the battery cells to short and overheat or catch on fire.
In November 2020, General Motors announced a Bolt EV recall recall impacting more than 50,000 vehicles, following multiple warranty claims indicating the electric vehicle (EV) battery overheated, resulting in at least five fires, one of which resulted in a house fire.
Chevrolet, a subsidiary, claims it first learned about the Bolt battery issue in July 2020, after four warranty claims reported vehicles caught on fire. GM opened an investigation with its battery parts supplier, LG Electronics, to collect field parts which initially determined the cells of the batteries may short out when the battery is fully charged or at near full capacity.
Throughout the investigation into the root cause, GM continued to receive warranty claims, which included at least 12 reports of the battery problems, including instances where the battery overheated, emitted smoke or smoldered. In at least five of the reports, the Chevy Bolt engine compartment caught on fire, resulting in injuries from smoke inhalation.
As GM continued to receive warranty claims during the investigation, the automaker instructed owners to apply a temporary and partial remedy of limiting the EV battery charge to 90% through the dashboard controls, and instructed customers to park their vehicles outside and away from structures to avoid injuries or property damage in the case of a battery fire.
This week, General Motors announced their engineering department traced the overheating and fires to what it called a rare manufacturing defect in battery modules that may cause a short in the cell.
GM announced it will begin notifying owners of a complete remedy which has been developed, and will detail how to schedule a repair at their local dealer, who will be instructed to install a software update to look for deficiencies in the batteries. Vehicle batteries with anomalies will be replaced free of charge.
Bolt EV Battery Lawsuits
Due to the initial recall only offering a partial remedy, which limited the battery capacity to 90% and required the vehicles to be parked outside and away from structures, General Motors now faces at least eight separate Bolt battery class action lawsuits pending in three U.S. District Courts.
Each of the complaints raise similar questions of fact and law, alleging the lithium ion batteries not only pose a fire and injury risk. Plaintiffs also allege that the Chevy Bolt battery repair remedy now limits the maximum state of charge, and reduces the number of miles the vehicles can travel, and would have paid significantly less or chosen a different electric vehicle.
Plaintiffs claim General Motors not only knew, or should have known, of the battery defect, but that the company also delayed an investigation to increase profits while putting customer safety at risk.
The lawsuits claim GM knew of the potential battery problems since July 2019, when it received the first report of a spontaneous fire occurring when charging a Chevy Bolt. However, rather than promptly opening an investigation, the manufacturer delayed an investigation to continue selling its remaining inventory before switching over to a new battery design for 2020 models.