GM recalls all Chevrolet bolts made due to battery failure


GM announced It is recalling every Chevrolet Bolt produced so far, including new electric utility vehicle models, because of concerns that manufacturing defects in the car’s LG-made battery may cause a fire.

bolt The first time I was recalled was November After five cars that did not collide were on fire.After further investigating the issue, Chevrolet recalled a The second batch of JulyThe problem is traced to two manufacturing defects that may occur at the same time. These defects-torn anode sheets and folded separators-create conditions that can cause short circuits in the affected cells.So far, the company has identified 10 fires related to malfunctioning batteries, according to Associated Press Report.

this The third and most recent recall Including 73,000 bolts produced from 2019 to 2022 (current model year), the total number of recalled cars reached nearly 142,000, of which more than 100,000 have been sold in the United States. General Motors estimates that the initial recall will cost 800 million U.S. dollars, and the new recall is expected to increase by 1 billion U.S. dollars. General Motors said it would seek compensation from LG.

In order to solve this problem, the car manufacturer will replace the vehicle’s battery, which is an expensive and laborious process that takes some time.Until replacement Battery Ready and can schedule service appointments, GM recommends that Bolt owners park their vehicles outside and limit the charge status of the battery to 90% or less. The company also advises against letting the estimated range be less than 70 miles. General Motors said it is working with LG Chem to increase the production of alternative batteries.

Tracking the problem

The faulty battery was initially traced to an LG Chemical factory in Ochang, South Korea, where the company believed the problem was. But a few weeks ago in Chandler, Arizona, a fire involving the Bolt in 2019 caused investigators to expand the scope of their investigation and found that there were also problems with batteries produced in other LG factories.

General Motors and LG Chem are partners in a new multi-billion dollar joint venture Manufacturing Ultium batteries This will support a series of new electric car From the Detroit car manufacturer. The two companies have announced the establishment of two US$2.3 billion battery factories in Ohio and Tennessee. The first factory will start production next year.

General Motors initially partnered with LG Chem to develop high-voltage batteries in 2008, when the automaker chose the company to provide battery packs for its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid vehicle. At the time, it was widely believed that General Motors chose this South Korean company because it had a good track record in the relatively new field of lithium-ion batteries. Given that the contract competitor A123 suffered dark circles when its battery was responsible for a series of Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids a few years later, this may be the right choice.

But even LG Chem’s experience and manufacturing capabilities have failed to protect it from high-risk errors. “The battery is very hard,” Greg Less, the technical director of the University of Michigan Battery Laboratory, told me Another article“If they are not difficult, everyone will make them.”

In recent years, battery manufacturers have been struggling to balance the competing demands of cost, stability and performance when developing new chemicals. Many lithium-ion batteries in automobiles use cobalt to maintain stability during charging and discharging. But cobalt is expensive, and most of it is produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country known for its uneven human rights record and substandard mining conditions. Electrochemists have been working to reduce the amount of cobalt used and replace it with nickel, which also has the benefit of increasing energy density. Unfortunately, high nickel batteries are also more likely to catch fire.

Although neither General Motors nor LG has announced the details of the chemical composition of the Bolt battery, its composition is believed to be NMC 622, which is six parts nickel, two parts manganese and two parts cobalt. This is similar to what other automakers are using. As automakers solve problems in the battery supply chain, a large number of recalls have recently occurred——Ford, modern, with BMW Vehicles have been recalled recently. So far, the scale of these recalls is smaller than GM, and the reasons include manufacturing defects and potential software problems.

More fires?

Although electric car fires are making headlines, it is not clear whether electric cars catch fire more frequently than internal combustion engine cars. At the beginning of this month, Tesla Released a number report Claims that fossil fuel vehicles are 11 times more likely to catch fire than Tesla’s own vehicles (measured by fires per billion miles). on the other hand, 2019 data Reports from the London Fire Department indicate that plug-in cars are more likely to catch fire than ICE cars (0.1% and 0.04% of cars registered in the city).

As General Motors continues to invest in electrification, the company is clearly aware that it must act quickly to correct this problem. GM spokesperson Dan Flores wrote: “We are working with our suppliers and manufacturing teams to determine how best to expedite the recall of the replacement battery capacity of the module.” NBC Finance Channel After the recall last month. “These teams are working around the clock on this issue.”

This story originally appeared in Ars Technica.

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