• Chevrolet’s mass recall of the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV could cost GM almost $2 billion, which is why, as Inside EVs reported, some dealers are predicting a big buyback instead of widespread battery replacements.
  • But GM reconfirmed to Car and Driver that the previously announced plan to replace the defective battery modules remains in place, adding that buybacks might be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • GM’s battery partner, LG, has started manufacturing replacement models for the Bolt batteries, and the first ones should be installed starting later this month.

    The ongoing cost of the recall that affects every single Chevrolet Bolt EV ever made is, according to some reports, around $1.8 billion. The main driver for the eye-popping number is the fact that GM’s solution to the recall is to replace at least some battery modules in all 110,000 Bolts that were sold in the U.S. The scale of this program has led some Chevy dealers to assume the automaker will implement a buyback program for the faulty EVs rather than pony up to replace the batteries.

    “[GM is] already going to pay half the value of the car with the new battery. Buybacks will be way cheaper for them,” an anonymous dealer told InsideEVs. There are other signs that the recall isn’t dampening the value of these electric vehicles, which are still under temporary safety suggestions from GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) not to overcharge or overdischarge the battery. Manheim Auctions, InsideEVs notes, is forecasting that a 2021 Chevy Bolt will only lose around $100 in value over the next 12 months. The result? Dealers are buying up lots and lots of Bolt EVs from customers looking to sell.

    But a buyback—a massive buyback, at least—is not in the official plans.

    “We haven’t changed our plan, which is to replace all battery modules in the 2017–2019 model year vehicle population and replace defective modules in the 2020–2022 model years,” a GM spokesperson told Car and Driver. “We continue to consider buyback requests on a case-by-case basis.”

    To catch you up on the Bolt recall situation, which also affects the Bolt EUV, the main problem is that there is a risk of the high-voltage battery pack catching fire. It has only happened around a dozen times, but the risk was large enough that GM and NHTSA made an initial recall announcement in November 2020. The problem stems from two rare manufacturing defects—a torn anode and a folded separator—that both need to be present in the same battery cell that supplier LG made for GM for a fire to potentially start. The two companies are now working together to find a solution. In late September, GM said it and LG had “identified the simultaneous presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevrolet Bolt EVs.”

    Identifying that root cause allowed LG to resume battery and module production with an updated manufacturing process last month. Module replacements are supposed to start in mid-October, with the first batch going to Bolt EV and EUV customers “whose batteries were manufactured during specific build time frames where GM believes battery defects appear to be clustered,” GM said.

    Before the end of the year, GM will also release new diagnostic software that has been designed to “detect specific abnormalities that might indicate a damaged battery in Bolt EVs and EUVs.” GM said that with this new software and other fixes, Bolt EV and EUV owners should be able to use their cars as they did before.

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