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The Electric Vehicle Recall & Fix

February 5th, 2022 at 03:40 pm

This electric vehicle recall was a roller coaster I just didn't have the time or energy to blog about.  Plus, easier to post the whole story when we have some resolution.

I also don't remember a lot of the little details and roller coaster, so maybe it's for the best.  

We bought our 2017 Bolt in summer 2020.  At some point after that, Bolts were starting to catch fire.  Probably some fires before then, but hindsight 20/20 it makes sense why those started to be a problem (more numerous) in late 2020.  Will get to that.

I distinctly remember thinking, "This can be really good or really bad."  Really bad = burning down our house (and/or starting the next CA mega fire).  Really good = getting a new battery!

Happy to come out the other end with the "really good" outcome.  

As to the roller coaster...  

They first tried to fix with a software patch but that didn't work. 

I remember it was July 2021 because MH was in Florida, when they announced that they would start just replacing batteries.  At the time, this was just 2017-2019 models.  A few days later a 2020 model caught fire.  !!!  So it quickly felt very back to square one.

I have to back up and say that if this was any other car we would have sold and moved on.  But there are no other (useful) electric models on the market in our price range.  Going back to a gas car is out of the question.  We would be miserable.  About the best compromise we came up with is maybe getting a second Volt (hybrid) for a while, until they sort this out. 

We did get into the queue a long long time ago, for GM to buy back our car.  They were crazy slow, which we were fine with.  We just wanted to be in the queue and don't know if that helped us move up the line for battery replacement.  The "buyback" was probably pretty useless.  We bought used and could do much better on the resale market right now.  We paid $17K for a car that's worth like $23K today.  The buyback would have been $17K minus some useage.  But we just wanted to be in the queue, express our concern, and didn't know if used values might falter through this mess, etc. (if GM would be the best offer to sell the car). 

Of course, we were very seriously considering investing a lot of money and trading up to a 2020.  Just to be out of this mess.  I am so relieved we didn't go that route.  (That was before we knew 2020 just had the same problems).  

I think once that 2020 blew up, GM just put all hands on deck.  It seems pretty quickly after that they really narrowed down the problem.   We were never overly concerned because the fire risk was pretty average for the 2017s.  The problem ended up being a 2-month manufacturing period of the 2019 model.  Those are something like 30 times more likely than the average gas car to catch fire.  😱  Obviously they fixed all of those first, and then are moving backwards to the oldest cars/batteries.  

The end result is a 5-year-old car with a brand new battery and a new 8-year warranty.  The new batteries are bigger and have a longer range, so we also have added more range to our car.  The EPA rating on the old battery was 240 miles of range, but we were consistently getting 260.  & I mean, mostly freeway driving (which is the least fuel efficient on electricity).  If MH just drives to work (city streets) the car might go 400 miles on one charge.  (Braking regenerates electricity, so the fuel efficiency is backwards of what you think re: gas cars.  Traffic and lights = more range).  

Old Battery = 60 kWh

New Battery = 66 kWh

That's a 10% increase in range!

Our 260-mile real (freeway) range is probably now 286 miles. 

We have not been able to really test this out because it has been unusually cold.  We were able to get 250 miles on Christmas Day (unusually cold) and it was freakishly cold the day MH drove the kids back to college (January 2) .  

December/January is our winter.  This should be more interesting the rest of the year.  & MH was able to do a Bay Area roundtrip without stopping for fuel.  He did this on January 31.  I imagine this will be much easier most of the year (with warmer temps). 

Edited to clarify:  During the recall we couldn't charge below 30% or above 90%.  So we weren't able to (easily) drive the electric vehicle to the college.  (Deep discharging and/or full charging was a risk factor with the fires).  Thus, some gas spending in 2021 that I am not expecting in 2022.  

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