How An Electric Car Battery Can Fail: One Story | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

How An Electric Car Battery Can Fail: One Story

Batteries are what make an electric car an electric car. But they can also be its undoing.

I’ve owned EVs since 2013. I now drive a 2021 Chevy Bolt — but it’s not the car I should be driving.

My car is actually a 2018 Chevy Bolt. But after leaving it at the dealer in April to fix a battery issue, I haven’t seen it since.

The problem appears to be a combination of a Chevy Bolt battery recall and a chip shortage which has been plaguing the car industry since the pandemic began last year.

My problem began when the “MyChevrolet” app on my smartphone started giving me a warning (shown above) about my 2018 Bolt, urging me to take it to the dealer to address the issue.

This is a general warning that applies to all owners of 2017, 2018, and 2019 Bolts in the wake of incidents where Bolts caught fire.

At that time, I didn’t take it to the dealer because I had already reset the battery on my own (which is essentially the fix the dealer would do). The reset limits the full charge to 90 percent, which roughly shaves off 24 miles from the GM rated range of 238 miles.

GM urges all 2017-2019 owners do this because as the company states: “If the batteries in select vehicles within this population are charged to full capacity, or very close to full capacity, the batteries may pose a risk of fire.”

Then this happened

But in April I got a separate warning (via a yellow “service required” light) about a battery problem unique to my Bolt.

That said I had a problem with charging (again, this is separate from the warning in the image above).

The upshot was, my battery would not charge* when I plugged it in. So at this point I had no choice but to take it to the dealer.

That was back on April 22.

My dealer has been waiting (and waiting) on a “module” to fix the issue. The first module they installed didn’t work. Now they are waiting on a second module — which is backordered with no visibility.

My wild guess is that the delay is related to the worldwide chip shortage, though I haven’t been able to confirm it.

So, why am I driving a 2021 Bolt?

That’s the car the dealer gave me as I wait for a new module that may or may not fix the issue. (I have serious doubts based on the failure of the first attempted fix.)

EV batteries are still in their infancy

It seems that every week there is some newfangled battery development announced with great fanfare.

While most of the announcements never make it out of the lab, it does show that the industry is desperate for better battery technology.

New technology is needed that yields batteries that are more efficient, have longer range, don’t overheat and don’t have the potential to catch fire.

At the moment, solid-state battery technology from the likes of QuantumScape and Toyota appear to have the most promise to actually revolutionize batteries. Tesla, of course, is also constantly working to improve its battery technology.

Until then, we’ll have to deal with first-generation EV battery technology and its shortcomings.