One of the primary concerns often leveled at electric cars is the risk of fire. Large electric batteries can burn ferociously if damaged or faulty, causing great damage or even loss of life as a result. When it comes to the 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt, GM has had some issues in this department. Today's earnings report from GM indicates the automaker has spent $800 million on recalls for the affected model in the past quarter alone.
GM first issued a recall regarding the Bolt fire issue in November last year. Fast forward to May, and GM was confident it had the problem licked. If a dealer determined the car's battery was at risk of fire, it would be replaced free of charge. Two cars that were previously recalled then caught fire, making it clear the problem wasn't solved. The NHTSA then notified Bolt owners to park their cars outside for safety reasons. GM has actually started buying back affected cars, though only a handful had gone ahead by the end of May.
The $800 million figure is rather steep, making up the vast majority of GM's total warranty recall costs of $1.3 billion in the second quarter. The earnings report was overall a rosy one, however, with the company boasting profits of $2.8 billion on revenues of $34.2 billion.
It's a sad indictment of the car that GM hoped would take the fight to Tesla in the burgeoning electric vehicle space. Instead, the Bolt has been seen as overpriced compared to its rivals, while offering less luxurious appointments at the same time. As far as recalls go, basic faults and unreliability are one thing. Having the car spontaneously combust is another one entirely, and will do nothing to assuage consumer concerns about the safety of EVs.
It's a huge sum of money to be forking out in just three short months. However, when you're having to inspect and replace batteries in a fleet of almost 69,000 vehicles, that's the cost of doing business. Here's hoping for the sake of the stockholders, and the affected customers, that GM can soon put this issue to bed.
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