Fearing Battery Fire After Recall, People Are Selling Their Chevy Bolt EV Back to GM

GM warned that some cars may have a manufacturing defect that could catch fire. For safety’s sake, the automaker recommended that Bolt owners restrict their use of the car to avoid putting pressure on the batteries, and park them away from their homes.

According to GM, the Chevrolet Bolt has been blamed for 12 fires so far.

Schoenfeld said the ban turned owning a very practical electric car into a major inconvenience. GM offered to loan them a different car, but it would have been gasoline-powered, as GM currently does not sell any electric vehicles other than the Bolt. GM once sold a plug-in hybrid called the Volt, but that car went out of production in 2019. For Schoenfeld, a different GM car was not a viable option. So instead, GM bought their Bolt back from them.

“I’m very environmentally conscious,” he said. “I have solar and mine geothermal in my house and I don’t want to burn fossil fuels.”

In a process that eventually took weeks to work out, Schoenfeld sold his Chevrolet Bolt EV back to GM for a price that was about $10,000 more than trading the car to a dealer, he said, However he declined to provide specific numbers.

This is a solution that many According to multiple social media reports and CNN business interviews, Bolt’s owners are resorting to this.

GM would not say how many vehicles it has bought back from customers. company said it is deciding whether to buy back individual cars on a “case-by-case” basis. Alternatively, GM Another is also offering to exchange the car for a GM vehicle.

Brandon Neider, an information technology manager who also owns an auto detailing company in Yonkers, New York, has also submitted paperwork for the buyback, a process he’s told could take weeks, given the number of requests. can.

“I’m not really comfortable having this vehicle at this point,” Nieder said. “I haven’t worked with the brand, but you know, these guys don’t even know how long it’s going to take to solve this.”

GM first announced a recall of Chevy Bolt electric vehicles in November 2020 due to the risk of fire, but it did not have an immediate solution. In May, it announced a software repair, but then two fires involving the Bolt were fixed, leading to the recall of 70,000 vehicles in July. A month later, the automaker issued a recall on another 70,000 cars.

GM spokesman Kevin Kelly said the company will begin replacing the battery modules on the Bolt EVs at no charge to the owner, once it is confident that its battery supplier, LG Energy Solutions, can produce defect-free batteries. Used to be. However, there is no specific time frame in which this is expected to happen, he said. NHTSA is also investigating the cause of the fire.

“We don’t have a clear solution yet as we are investigating the cause of the fire,” a spokesperson for LG Energy Solutions said.

An LG spokesperson also said that, as the issue is still being investigated, the company cannot comment on whether the root cause was an LG manufacturing issue.

In the meantime, GM recommends owners use their vehicles in ways that reduce stress on the battery. This includes taking short trips and not allowing the battery to fully charge or Too many drains.

Several Chevrolet Bolt EV owners interviewed for this story, some of whom did not want their names published because they are still in discussions with the automaker, said they loved their electric cars and were to blame GM. were not bothered by.

“You know, things happen,” said one woman who bought the Bolt in 2017. “Things go wrong.”

Although the process took several weeks and involved a lot of paperwork, Schoenfeld said the customer service he dealt with was all kind, understanding, and helpful.

Most of the other Bolt EV owners CNN Business spoke with were less optimistic on the customer service issue.

One man said, “I was listening to that terrible music for an hour and 55 minutes.”

A woman in upstate New York, who was concerned about the safety of her home in the event that the Bolt burned down, said GM offered her a 150-foot charging cable that would allow her to charge her car away from her wooden house. Can you But later, she said, another GM representative told her that no such telegram existed. GM confirmed to CNN Business that there is no longer a charging cord.

Many said they have been asking for buybacks since they bought the car, hoping it would be able to go a certain distance between charges, up to 259 miles for the latest models.

Announcing the most recent memories, GM advised people not to charge the battery more than 90% of its capacity. He also recommended that people not drain the battery for less than about 70 miles. According to EPA estimates, this reduced the driving range of most long-range models to about 163 miles. In real-world driving, the Chevrolet Bolt, like other vehicles, electric or not, often doesn’t achieve its EPA-estimated range.

GM also recommended that people not charge their cars indoors overnight and park the cars outside immediately after charging. GM also recommends that when parking in a garage, parking on the top floor or an open deck and at least 50 feet away from any other vehicle.

“After every use, coming home in the evening, I wake up in the middle of the night to unplug the car,” said Schönfeld.

GM customer service representatives suggested solutions, short of selling the car back, they weren’t helpful either, some people Claimed. Two men are being offered rental car reimbursement, but were asked to submit their rental car receipts at the end of each month. That would mean racking up hundreds of dollars in rental car fees before requesting a repayment. GM did not confirm specifically how it handles rental car reimbursement.

However, not all owners are thinking about getting rid of their cars. Many people want to keep their Bolt on, adhere to GM’s suggested usage limits, and wait for the problem to be fixed.

“It sounds like a small risk we were willing to accept until Chevy can replace the battery,” said Sally Haven, a Bolt owner in Maryland. “We don’t even have a garage, so our car is parked in the driveway.”

For those who decide to request a buyback, the process is time-consuming and involves a lot of paperwork. GM It would not explain exactly how it decides which cars to buy back, other than saying “we continue to evaluate buyback requests from Bolt EV owners on a case-by-case basis.”

According to a brochure provided by the automaker, the formula used by GM in calculating the value of the car involves taking the full amount paid and deducting a small amount for each mile driven, plus any received from GM. Also includes other things like purchase incentives and costs. To remove the modifications made by the customer. This is similar to the calculations used in Lemon Law settlements, said Steve Lehto, a Michigan attorney who specializes in auto-related consumer law.

Lehto said that in agreeing to these buyback deals, GM is probably looking at Lemon laws and other warranty-related laws in each state. He said there are such laws in every state, but they differ in details and enforcement. Even though customers may not specifically enforce the laws, they provide a basis for GM to understand what a customer may ultimately be compelled to do if they pursue the issue in court. .

For now, some Bolt owners He said he is looking at other electric cars. Schoenfeld and Nieder both said they had ordered the Tesla Model 3S.

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