If you own a Chevy Bolt that is affected by the battery recall due to the risk of fire, you’re in luck. General Motors started producing new battery cells in September to fix the manufacturing defect that led to about a dozen fires. GM says it will replace the entire battery pack in 2017, 2018, and 2019 cars, and some of the battery modules in 2020 and newer cars.
In September, GM released a statement saying, “GM and LG have identified the presence of two rare simultaneous defects, found in the same battery cell, made during module manufacturing process.” The company explained the cause is a torn anode tab and folded separator within the battery modules, as we reported earlier.
If you are looking to buy a new Chevy Bolt or EUV, you’re out of luck, however. Production was shut down at the Orion factory where the cars are manufactured starting the week of August 23. GM said at the time it would prioritize getting the newly manufactured modules and battery packs to dealers by October 1 so the task of replacing the defective batteries could begin.
Production restarted on November 1 but stopped again on November 15. The cars made during those two weeks were built as replacements for some of the cars in the hands of current Bolt owners, according to the Detroit News.
Last week, GM spokesman Dan Flores issued a statement saying, “GM has notified employees at Orion Assembly the plant will take downtime for the remainder of the 2021 calendar year. This decision will enable us to continue prioritizing recall repairs. We will continue to inform employees at the appropriate time of any additional production schedule adjustments in early 2022, as we continue to focus on battery module replacements.”
Also last week, Orion Plant Director Reuben Jones sent a note to employees that read, “Beyond 2021, our production schedule continues to be dictated by what is needed to help the customers affected by the recall, as opposed to filling orders for new vehicles.” Translation: “We aren’t building any new cars at Orion for the rest of this year and we’ll see about restarting production next year. Happy Holidays.”
The Chevy Bolt is a pretty good car. Not great, but decent. Were it not for the battery fire issue, my wife and I would have considered buying a used one last year to replace our trusty Nissan LEAF just so we would have enough range and access to fast charging for a road trip now and again. We could have bought three Bolts for what we are paying for our Model Y, which is supposed to arrive this week.
America desperately needs good EVs that ordinary people can afford. Everyone else is running toward the high end of the market. The Bolt is a car for everyone — or at least it was. Who knows how this kerfluffle with batteries will affect the sales of new cars and the value of used ones? It’s a shame, really. We can only hope that GM will weather this storm and get the Bolt back into production as soon as possible. It deserves to be in the conversation when Americans talk about how to be part of the EV revolution.