In 2021, a number of battery fires in Chevrolet Bolt EVs led General Motors to investigate and discover issues with some of the LG-supplied battery packs used in the vehicles. Naturally, GM issued a recall to replace all affected Bolt packs. However, this past June GM announced it wouldn't be replacing batteries in 2020-2022 model-year cars, but instead installing an inconvenient software monitoring system to check the battery's safety over a long period. To get those customers on board with diagnostic software after promising them a battery swap, GM is now offering a $1,400 Visa gift card.
The software GM is pushing to these Bolts will diagnose the battery's health to first determine if they need replacement as Electrek reported, but there are two catches. To do so, owners will have to drive around 6,200 miles (10,000 km) with the software installed, and the Bolt's charge capacity will be limited to just 80% during the diagnostic period. Once the software deems the battery safe, charge capacity is designed to return to 100%, but more than 6,000 miles of driving with 80% of total range is an inconvenient proposition for many customers. Also, what if the battery is bad over that span, and requires replacement all the while?
As you can imagine, many customers on the ChevyBolt.org forum aren't happy with this arrangement and just want their batteries replaced, instead of having to live with a capped battery for 6,200 miles. And since many EV owners only drive short distances, those miles may take quite a while to rack up. Making matters worse, those miles would need to be completed before March 31, 2025 for the vehicle in question to qualify for a battery replacement, should the software deem it necessary.
The $1,400 is part of the compensation from the class-action lawsuit, which was a result of the recall. To get the $1,400 Visa, customers need to sign a legal release and install the software on their Bolt.
A GM representative told The Drive: "GM is announcing a compensation program for 2020-22 Bolt EV/EUV owners upon installation of the final advanced diagnostic software as part of the original battery recall. Owners are eligible to receive a $1,400 Visa eReward card upon installation. This applies to Bolt EV/EUV owners in the US only. We’re grateful to our customers for their patience and understanding."
Without question, '20-'22 Bolt owners have the right to be annoyed, as they were initially promised battery replacements that later turned into an update that limits the day-to-day usability of the car they purchased. Of course, those customers may still get their batteries replaced if the software determines it's required after the testing period, but that potentially leaves them driving with underperforming or perhaps even dangerous batteries for months, or more than a year.
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