After nearly a year of concern over the batteries in its Chevrolet Bolt EV, American automotive giant General Motors says production has resumed of the LG battery cells and modules, and that replacement battery modules will begin shipping to dealers as soon as mid-October.
GM first announced a recall of more than 68,000 Chevy Bolt EVs back in November 2020 after concern was raised about a risk of fire when the batteries were charged to full, or very close to full capacity.
Concern arose after five confirmed Chevy Bolt EV battery fires, three of which had been referred to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Last month, GM expanded the Chevy Bolt EV recall to include not only 2017 to 2019 Chevy Bolt EVs – which it was forced to reissue in July – but also the remaining 2019 models as well as all 2020 to 2022 model year Chevy Bolt EVs.
Batteries for the Chevy Bolt EV are made by GM’s major battery partner, South Korean chemical company LG Chem. The two companies have been working together for awhile now, and in late-2019 the two formed the Ultium Cells 50/50 joint venture to mass-produce battery cells for electric vehicles.
On Monday, General Motors announced that LG battery plants in Hazel Park and Holland, both in the US state of Michigan, had resumed production of battery cells and modules.
Further, LG was adding capacity to provide more battery cells to GM. As such, replacement battery modules for the Chevy Bolt EV will begin shipping to dealers as soon as mid-October.
“Resuming battery module production is a first step and we’ll continue to work aggressively with LG to obtain additional battery supply,” GM said. “In addition, we’re optimistic a new advanced diagnostic software will provide more convenience for our customers.”
According to GM, the “root cause of the rare circumstances that could cause a battery fire is two manufacturing defects known as a torn anode and a folded separator, both of which need to be present in the same battery cell.”
This has led to LG implementing new manufacturing processes and the two companies have worked together to review and enhance its quality assurance programs.
GM will be prioritising replacement battery modules for Chevy Bolt EV and EUV customers whose batteries were manufactured during specific build timeframes that GM believes the battery defects appear to be clustered.
The new batteries will unsurprisingly include an extended battery 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty (or 8-year/160,000 km limited warranty in Canada).
GM also announced it will launch a new advanced diagnostic software package that will detect abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery by monitoring battery performance, alerting customers of any anomalies, and prioritising damaged battery modules for replacement.
The new software will be provided to all Bolt EV and Bolt EUV owners, but will require dealer installation.
General Motors also issued updated guidance on parking (below), and advised that customers “leave ample space around their vehicle wherever they choose to park.”
It also recommended setting the vehicle to a 90 percent state of charge limit, avoid depleting battery below approximately 70 miles (113 km) of remaining range, and not to leave vehicles charging indoors overnight.