Chevrolet Bolt Recalled Due to Battery Problem

Chevrolet Bolt Recalled Due to Battery ProblemIn an effort to support climate change, the current administration plans to transform at least half of the vehicles in the United States from internal combustion to electricity by the year 2050. While the intentions are coming from a good place, some car manufacturers are already experiencing issues with the transformation of electric vehicles.

One manufacturing company that has found itself issuing two recalls concerning its electric vehicles is General Motors. The manufacturing company had to issue its first recall of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles in November of 2020 after receiving five reports of the vehicles catching on fire. After a second investigation was conducted, a rare defect found in the battery modules was discovered to be the cause of the fires.

The Oklahoma City product liability attorneys from Cunningham & Mears discuss this recall and its impact on Chevrolet Bolt owners in today’s blog.

Why did General Motors recall the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles?

During the original recall, the company placed the blame on a South Korean factory that was used by its battery supplier, LG Chemical Solution, for producing what was thought to be a manufacturing defect. In a second investigation, the company discovered that the battery modules contain a rare defect that shortens the cell and can trigger a fire.

The company initially believed that the batteries that were near a full charge were the batteries most likely to catch on fire. It wasn’t until a second investigation was conducted that the company discovered that batteries produced at other sites were capable of being defective. After the original recall, most of the newer Bolt batteries were produced at an LG plant in Holland, Michigan and were discovered to still have a defect.

What were some of the consequences of the Chevy Bolt’s battery defect?

To date, there have been ten fires that have been linked to the battery defects in the Bolt electric vehicles. The first five occurred during the first recall in November, where two drivers suffered from smoke inhalation and a house was set on fire. The most recent fire occurred a few weeks ago in Chandler, Arizona, after a 2019 model that was not part of the original recall caught on fire. This incident was the catalyst for the company to conduct a second investigation into the newer Bolts.

What are some of the dangers associated with lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries are the types of batteries that are used in all electric vehicles. These batteries contain an electrode, an electrolyte, and a separator. In addition to electric vehicles, these types of batteries can be used in rechargeable storage devices. Lithium-ion batteries can generate considerable amounts of power at a given size and weight.

These types of batteries are generally safe if the batteries have not encountered any damage or defects. At the same time, when these batteries are damaged or stored improperly, they are sensitive to high temperatures and are subject to a fire or explosion hazard.

What type of damage can occur to a lithium-ion battery?

The common hazards that can cause damage to a lithium-ion battery are physical impact, external temperatures, and improper charging. Some of the physical acts that can create damage to lithium-ion batteries include crushing, puncturing, or dropping the battery. In regard to external temperatures, there are two conditions that can cause a defect in these types of batteries: high temperatures or temperatures below freezing.

The temperature must be above 130 degrees Fahrenheit or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit to create a defect in the battery. In particular, the organic liquid electrolytes can become very combustible in high temperatures. When it comes to improper charging, damage can be done to the lithium-ion battery by failing to follow the proper instructions when charging the battery. Damage to lithium-ion batteries can occur either immediately or gradually.

This is why, in the first recall, General Motors warned owners on where to park their vehicles. After the first five fires, owners were instructed to park their vehicles outside once they were done charging them. Owners were also instructed not to charge their vehicles overnight.

What are the newer models that have been recalled?

The Bolt vehicles with the model years from 2019 to 2022 have been added to the previous recall. In some rare cases, some of these vehicles contain battery modules with two manufacturing defects, increasing the likelihood of the battery module catching on fire. To date, there have been 73,000 Bolts recalled after the second investigation, in addition to the 69,000 older Bolts recalled from the previous recall in November.

How has General Motors responded to the recall?

The company has responded to the recall by planning to replace the battery modules in all electric vehicles. The company is currently collaborating with its battery supplier, LG, to increase battery production. As soon as replacement parts are available, the company will notify all owners; after receiving notification, owners will be able to take their vehicles to the dealers and have their battery modules replaced.

While the company is not certain as to when owners will be notified of when to come in for battery replacements, the company is certain of their decision to cease all production and distribution of Bolt models until the safety defect has been resolved.

How will General Motors resolve the battery defect?

One of the ways the company plans to resolve the defective battery issue is to replace all five battery modules in the Bolt vehicles with the model years from 2017 to 2019. In addition to replacing all five battery modules, the company has decided to throw in an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty with the new battery modules. General Motors also plans to pursue reimbursement from their battery supplier, LG.

At Cunningham & Mears, we believe that all products should be safe for consumer use. If you were injured because of a dangerous or defective product, our Oklahoma City injury attorneys have the experience and skill to obtain compensation for you. To learn more about our experience and services, contact us or call (405) 232-1212, today to schedule a free initial consultation. You can also use the contact form on our website to schedule an appointment.