DETROIT — General Motors last week outlined its plan to fix Chevrolet Bolt batteries that can catch fire, 10 months after first recalling the car, but the automaker's reputation among early electric vehicle adopters may take time to recover.
GM has two solutions to repair the 142,000 Bolts now under recall, including 110,000 in the U.S. Chevy dealers will start replacing battery modules for 2017 to 2019 model vehicles next month, while newer Bolts will get new diagnostic software that identifies potentially dangerous anomalies or damaged batteries.
The automaker has confirmed 13 fires linked to the battery defects. GM has told Bolt owners to use only part of the car's full range, store their cars outside in case the batteries ignite and, most recently, not to park within 50 feet of other vehicles.
In the months that GM was working on solutions, some customers lost trust in the automaker and asked to return their vehicles. It's unclear how many Bolts GM has agreed to repurchase, but requests and success stories have been a persistent topic in Bolt owner forums. Some customers have worked with state attorneys general and lemon law attorneys, although the recall doesn't fit the traditional parameters for lemon law.
The recall involves a nameplate — and battery system — that soon will become obsolete as GM transitions to EVs powered by its next-generation Ultium batteries, starting with the GMC Hummer pickup this year.
"We're grateful for the patience of owners and dealers as we work to advance solutions to this recall," Doug Parks, GM's executive vice president for global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said in a statement last week.
Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association, said few customers have asked dealers in the nation's top EV state for buybacks.