GM says defect-free Bolt batteries are in production

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It’ll start swapping them out in October, but the recall isn’t over yet

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General Motors said Monday it will begin swapping out new batteries in the Chevy Bolt EV in October in response to at least a dozen fires that triggered a massive recall. GM did not say when it would start producing new versions of the electric car.

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News comes that LG is once again making batteries for the Bolt after stopping in August. GM says it worked closely with the South Korean conglomerate to ensure the new cells were free of defects, which led to more than a dozen fires and massive recalls in the automaker’s electric vehicle.

Owners of older Bolts (model years 2017 to 2019) will have all the modules in their battery packs swapped out for new ones. GM said owners of the new model could only replace individual modules.

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GM said on Monday it would begin letting dealers install new diagnostic software on the Bolt over the next 60 days. The software will continuously scan the battery pack for signs of defects. If none are found, the software will eventually allow owners to charge their vehicles to 100 percent once again, and bypass some of the other safety guidelines GM recalled.

An early fix for the recall, announced in May, included an older version of this diagnostic software, although at least two vehicles that received it still caught fire. GM didn’t go into much detail on Monday about how this new software is different.

In the meantime, Bolt owners should continue to follow that guidance. GM says owners should park outside and away from their homes after charging, and they shouldn’t charge their vehicles indoors overnight. Owners should never charge their Bolt more than 90 percent, and should avoid draining the battery below 70 miles of remaining range.

However, GM made a minor change to its guidance. As long as they follow the guidelines above, GM says owners only need to leave “enough space” between their Bolt and other vehicles, rather than 50 feet as was recently advised. It didn’t define “enough” though.

GM first issued a recall for older models of the Bolt in November 2020 after a handful of fires. But it wasn’t until July of this year that it announced what the problem was. In rare cases, some cells made by LG had two separate faults—a cracked anode and a bent separator—which, when combined, made it possible for the Bolt to catch fire while charging the battery pack.

LG ceased production of the Cell in August, when GM decided to recall all model years of the Bolt. GM said on Monday that production had resumed at two locations with LG in Michigan, but factories in South Korea were still not back online.

The recall has already cost GM about $2 billion. The automaker has said it wants to recover some or most of that amount from LG — although the two companies are working together on GM’s next-generation Altium batteries, and will operate several new battery factories in the US.

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