GM adding software to lift charging, parking restrictions on '19 Bolts

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit —  General Motors Co. is starting installation of software on certain Chevrolet Bolts that removes restrictions owners have been told to use during a battery fire recall on the vehicles, the automaker said Friday.

GM previously said in September it would roll out within 60 days an "advanced diagnostic software that will increase the available battery charging parameters over existing guidance."

Now, owners of 2019 Chevrolet Bolts who haven't yet received battery module replacements can get the software update that will remove parking and charging limitations. The software is also said to detect battery abnormalities. 

The new software limits the Bolt's maximum state of charge to 80%, which allows customers to resume: charging indoors overnight, using the car with less than 70 miles of range, and parking indoors after charging.  

GM recalled all Bolts — more than 141,000 — in August after finding rare manufacturing defects that could result in a battery fire. GM has so far confirmed 15 fires globally with only minor injuries and no deaths. The automaker in October started shipping out new battery modules to dealerships to replace old modules on recalled Bolts. 

Though GM said in September it intended for the software to allow customers to return to a 100% state of charge, that will now only be possible when customers receive complete battery module replacements. Customers have been told not to charge beyond 90%. 

The software that limits the charge to 80% and removes other restrictions is expected to be available for remaining Bolt EV and EUV owners in the recall population within about the next 30 days. Automotive News first reported the software availability for 2019 models on Friday. 

"We will return vehicles to 100% state of charge once customers have received their replacement modules," Chevrolet spokesman Kevin Kelly said in a statement. "This software that we are releasing now for 2019 model year vehicles and for the rest of the population within the next 30 days will alleviate the restrictions around parking and charging, which customers have told us repeatedly they wanted removed."

GM estimates the recall will cost $2 billion and the automaker in October reached an agreement to recover $1.9 billion from battery supplier LG Electronics Inc.  

The automaker is prioritizing new battery modules to go to recalled Bolts and has shut down production of the Bolt EV and EUV at its Orion Assembly plant in Lake Orion for the rest of 2021. Production was shut down the week of Aug. 23 and came back up for two weeks in November to build replacement Bolts for customers having their vehicles repaired.

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