Bolt EV recall update: Software fix will restore full range, address fire risk

GM on Thursday posted an update about its recall—made over fire concerns—that makes most 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV models only able to charge up to 90%.  The update suggests that GM might not need to replace or modify battery packs in affected vehicles, and a solution might rely on a software remedy.  GM noted: “A […]

GM on Thursday posted an update about its recall—made over fire concerns—that makes most 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV models only able to charge up to 90%. 

The update suggests that GM might not need to replace or modify battery packs in affected vehicles, and a solution might rely on a software remedy. 

GM noted: “A team of GM engineers has made substantial progress in identifying the root cause and potential remedies for this issue. They are in the process of validating state-of-the-art software that can diagnose potential issues early and restore 100% charge capability.”

The company noted in a response to Green Car Reports that there are “hundreds of engineers working around the clock on the issue,” and reiterated an April rollout plan for the fix.

The recall thus far is effectively a band-aid that reduces the chances of a battery-related fire, pending a resolution that restores full functionality. It was announced in November and requires a service appointment, at which the Chevy dealership will apply a software flash that limits the affected vehicle’s maximum state of charge to 90%.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

GM has experience with multiple generations of plug-in and electric cars, over several decades, including the EV1, Volt, and Spark EV. The response and resolution in the end could serve as a net positive for the automaker to demonstrate its prowess with EVs ahead of the launch of vehicles built on its new Ultium propulsion strategy, led by the arrival of the GMC Hummer EV later this year. 

All Bolt EV models use battery cells from LG Chem, which are at least indirectly related to the issue. Although all 2017 and 2018 models of the Bolt EV are affected, the issue only affects some 2019 models as GM switched mid-year to cells supplied by Holland, Michigan, instead of South Korea. For 2020, GM switched to a different LG Chem cell, accompanying an upgrade to 66 kwh and a 259-mile rating that are expected to carry over to the 2022 Bolt EV.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevy also recommends that owners of 2017 and 2018 models use the Hill Top Reserve option, which limits charging capacity to 90%, or that those with 2019 models change the Target Charge Level to 90%. The company has produced a video along with the update, both of which give advice for owners, at its owner information page on the recall.