Like Tesla, Chevrolet Bolt Will Be Capable Of OTA Updates


The Chevrolet Bolt EV (shown here from NYIAS 2016)

The Chevrolet Bolt EV (shown here from NYIAS 2016)

The Chevrolet Bolt EV will offer over-the-air (OTA) updates, similar to Tesla. GM Chief Executive Engineer Pam Fletcher recently spoke at a conference about the upcoming Bolt and verified the new information. She said:

Bolt Interior

Bolt Interior

“Yes over-the-air programming, and so the Bolt EV will have over-the-air software download capability.”

The Bolt will arrive soon, ahead of its biggest competitor, the Tesla Model 3, and GM needs to assure that everything is in place to convince consumers that its product is better.

On top of this, GM is currently facing a substantial recall involving about four million vehicles (which includes the Chevrolet Spark EV).

Every affected GM owner will have to take their car in to have the software problem fixed. In the future, with the OTA update system in place, similar issues will be able to be easily fixed on vehicles like the Bolt EV, without a dealership visit.

Fletcher also addressed the company’s initial focus on security, since consumers may have concerns with the new OTA concept. She explained:

“We take [cybersecurity] very seriously, and we were the first major automaker to establish a dedicated cybersecurity team … we really wanted to have all the necessary safeguards in place so that we could do over-the-air programming safely and securely on the Bolt EV.”

While the OTA method is obviously a great benefit to customers and to GM, dealerships are affected negatively. This is a non-issue for Tesla since the company doesn’t use dealerships, however, GM will have to figure out exactly how much will be handled over-the-air and how dealerships will be compensated.

Sources:  Seeking Alpha, Electrek

Categories: Chevrolet

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67 Comments on "Like Tesla, Chevrolet Bolt Will Be Capable Of OTA Updates"

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Just one more reason for dealerships to hate it.
Still a need if you want to compete with the Big “T”.

GM has been long capable of OTA. Even with the Bolt the will probably do some things via the dealer and some OTA. Let’s be honest Tesla has to do OTA due to the sales model, GM doesn’t. So if it’s a bug in the infotainment system they will probably do it OTA. If it’s like the current airbag issue they might do it via dealer.

theflew said:

“Let’s be honest Tesla has to do OTA due to the sales model, GM doesn’t.”

I don’t see how that is true at all. Tesla cars could be updated when they’re brought in for their quarterly service center checkup, just like gasmobiles are.

Just because Tesla has divorced its service centers from its sales locations doesn’t mean they “have to” do over-the-air software updates.

Tesla does OTA updates not because they have to, but because they can.

Tesla’s don’t have quarterly service center checkups.

Hopefully all major automakers will be forced to do this.

I am able to update my phone’s entire operating system OTA but had to recently waste a half a day driving my Volt to the dealer to have them flash Android Auto to my car. That could have easily been done without me wasting my time.

An EV that can get OTA updates? Dealers are really going to love selling these cars! Almost zero service revenue in the first five years. Compare that to 3-5x/yr oil changes and other regular maintenance. If I’m not coming to the dealership for those, I’m probably not coming at all.

Not to mention, isn’t that illegal? Using the same laws GM is using to keep Tesla from directly selling its cars (bypassing dealerships), OTA updates bypass the dealer, so it’s effectively the manufacturer servicing the car, which is illegal.

No, except maybe in a few states. Manufacturer can’t compete. But it isn’t competing, since it’s not charging.

Besides, she only said download, you might have to take it to a dealership to have them press a button to start the update. :p

If it were illegal, wouldn’t NADA have already sued Tesla?

Existing dealers grump, but I don’t think I see a bunch of them suing GM for illegally servicing cars. The only way that happens is if a dealership goes out of business and they were going to sue GM for other stuff anyways.

They’re quoting the same laws that don’t allow vehicle manufacturers to service their own vehicles (they have to go through a dealership) as the reason Tesla can’t sell direct.

Now you’re understanding how silly it is to restrict Tesla… and OTA updates.

Realistically, most dealers don’t have any significant revenue for warranty services for many years. This “dealers want to do service” talking point is from EV1 times, next to “EV doesn’t need to clean carburetor” point.

Cars got more reliable, synthetic oil changes are done once a year only, and automakers simply don’t pay dealers much for warranty work – why should they? Dealers need to make most of their money on sales and keep service part only because it is required by automakers to make sales.

I see that as usual, zzzzzzzzzz is 100% reliable… in that 100% of what’s in his post is wrong.

Traditional auto dealers make well over half their income from servicing cars, not selling them. The reason they are often labeled “stealerships” is in large part due to all the overcharging and double-billing (billing both the customer and the auto manufacturer for in-warranty repairs) that they do.

So who are you shilling for this time, zzzzzzzzzzz? Big Oil, or some legacy auto dealerships? Or both?

An article at

“Where Does the Car Dealer Make Money? Mostly From Service, Not From Car Sales”

“Cars got more reliable, synthetic oil changes are done once a year only,”

Huh. Should of told that to my last gas car from 2013, a 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid, that every 4,000 miles/3 months had a service vehicle light come on the center information display that you couldn’t get rid of until you took it in to get an oil change.

We would ignore it for awhile and change the oil maybe every 6,000 miles or 6 months. Even the best most expensive synthetics recommend changing at no more than 10,000 miles.

“GM will have to figure out exactly how much will be handled over-the-air and how dealerships will be compensated.”

Why do the stealerships even need to be compensated?
That just shows that they are just dead legacy cost to the manufacturer.

If GM can do OTA for all the updates why even bother trying to decide which ones the stealership can do.

The others are correct. The stealerships will -really- want to push this product for sales……. /sarcasm

Its called the “Tesla Effect”.

Despite the haters/shorters constant whining about all things Tesla, they are disrupting the complacent and slow moving auto industry like nothing else and its all to the consumers’ benefit (and the detriment of fossilized interests like the stealerships and Big Oil).


i don’t care for the OTA feature because it opens the car up to hacking. this suggests to me that gm is introducing the bolt to compete with the tesla model 3, as that is an early adopter segment that puts a higher premium on tech gadgets than does the general automotive market. that should come as no surprise because it was apparent from the get-go that the bolt was targeted for the ev enthusiast segment.

Then disable OnStar and take your car to the dealer (and pay them) when you need an update installed.

i declined the free introductory onstar offer when i bought my volt. the reason why i declined the onstar offer was because i didn’t want gm to be able to track my vehicle usage. had i accepted the offer, it would have given gm the right to retrieve information about my usage of my car.

no thanks…

You’re a word that starts with a P and spells out with the letters * * * *

“I dont want them tracking my car”

Really? Its 2016, everything is tracked, its no big deal. Life continues on dude rofl

Been driving my Volt for 7 months now. How come im not worried like you are? Because im not the P word thats why lolololololol

While I respect your position, I have to ask, do you own a smart phone? Or a cell phone at all? Do you live in a major metropolitan city where they have traffic cameras?

Because if so, “they” already know where you are, so you can’t hide from “them”.

With that said, I certainly think humans should own access to data collected about themselves, and have the right to block collection and clear most of one’s own digital history.

I can always shut off my cell phone. And I often do.

I’m with “no comment” on this one. I don’t like the fact that Big Brother (or any hacker) can track my every move via cell phone. I’m not cheating on my girlfriend, and I’m not selling drugs or engaged in other illegal activities. I just value my privacy, and apparently I value it a lot more than most others do in this “age of information”.

Furthermore, I don’t at all agree that traffic cameras are the same thing. First, they’re not everywhere. And second, some are only there to monitor traffic patterns, not to record license plate data.

Then you better leave the internet right away. Your computer / phone is open for hacking, too.

1. A car ist more safety-critical than an ordinary computer.
2. On my computer I can decide what software is running (Windows, Linux, applications, …) and I can even program my own -> impossible for safety-related software in a car.
3. If my computer is really hacked, it absolutely won’t kill anybody even in worst case. I’ll reinstall and use my backup. How to do that with a car?!
4. In a car it’s more likely that security updates are impossible due to hardware with too slow CPU, to few RAM/mass-storage, etc.
5. When using my computer at home, I don’t travel around (->no identification of _multiple_ prefered places of mine) _and_ can use anonymization software like TOR.


SparkEV could’ve used this for the airbag recall…

NO one will spend 37.5k for a electric sonic( msrp 15k)

Mmm, people spent $35k or more, on a Leaf, which is just an electric Nissan Versa.

but what percentage in sub-compact car?

Sub-compact car sold more than 5 million a year…

how many did leaf sold a year?

It is almost 0 compared to same price ICE

Over 200,000 Leafs sold since introduction, isn’t anything to ignore.

GM wishes it could sell that many Bolts… Or, does it? Hmmm.

sub-compact sold more than 20M A YEAR!!!

The Bolt EV has more passenger volume than the Model S.

Does this mean that the Chevy Bolt will have a vampiric drain on the battery like Teslas?

The Model X has a terrible vampiric drain.

I don’t see why it would. The Volt doesn’t have significant vampiric drain.

Also GM is using their low-power instant-connect bluetooth technology, so I would assume they have the skills to prevent vampire-drain.

‘Terrible vampire drain’.
Most Tesla owners plug their cars in when they get home and never notice a drain and when they are unplugged it takes days, not hours to notice a significant drop in range due to vampire drain.
Model S 70D owner.

Does the vampire drain get figured into the EPA’s MPGe rating for the Model S & X? The EPA rating is supposed to be wall to wheels electricity consumption.


Err guess your Tesla is always garaged every day.

Not all users can do that.

For example, ever had to leave your car at the airport? I drive to the airport with 50% SOC remaining. I need 40% to come home. Then 2 weeks later when I fly in, my Tesla has 30% left. Won’t that piss you off?

No. Because that’s hypothetical

I think that’s realistic. Many people leave their cars at airports (or park & rides) for days/weeks.

“…it takes days, not hours to notice a significant drop in range due to vampire drain.”

Yeah, the characterization of “terrible” vampiric drain on a Model X battery pack sounds like at least overstating the case, if not outright Tesla bashing.

As I recall, if a Tesla Model S is left sitting in an airport parking lot, it takes about 4-5 weeks for the battery to drain from vampiric losses. Is the Model X significantly worse? I rather doubt it, as Tesla is aware of the problem. Vampiric drain was a real problem on early Roadsters, before Tesla did a fix to greatly diminish that.

Maybe – depending on how a typical reader would interpret “terrible losses”. From an engineering point of view however the vampiric losses are, if they are noticeable in a matter of days, truly terrible. Li-ion holds its charge rather well. An unused pack just sitting at 90% should lose at most 1% in a month – and that isn’t what I’d call noticeable. So it seems it must be active systems that drain the pack. But it’s hard to think of what it could be. Radio uses so little power that even my cell phone – which stays in pretty much constant contact with cell towers, fetches emails and updates software – can last a week on one charge if I don’t use it. (Obviously a whole week never goes by that I don’t use it, but occasionally I can go a whole day and notice at night I’ve got 97% after a full day, say 14-16 hours of “pocket life standby”.) The only thing I can think of that would require significant energy use is if the car is actively heating the battery pack. I don’t know what temperature range Tesla tries to keep the pack within, but heating… Read more »

I wonder how many Bolts will brick, on stuck firmwate updates?

Last time I took my Volt in for SW update the dealer bricked it and turned a 1 hour service appt into a long wait for a rental car to use over the weekend.


That sucks. 🙁

Yes Anon it does. but I think Lithium is full of BS. My Volt had essentially ZERO vampire drain. My Model S eats around 2-3 miles per day vampire.

I’ll wager the little BoltEV will have less vampire drain than the S. I’ll also wager that the BoltEV will have way better reliability than the S.

That’s useless GM for you, Go ahead & buy one Now!!!!

Why do people keep insisting that OTA updates somehow eliminate dealer service revenue? Tesla charges $600/year for service on the Model S.

More BS from serial tesla-hater Spiderman Dan.

Tesla has an OPTIONAL $600/year maintenance plan, not required if you don’t want it.

Virtually every service plan from a dealership is optional. What are they going to do… force you to buy it?

To clarify: the point I was making is that even Tesla – the company that exclusively sells “maintenance-free” BEVs with OTA updates – still makes money from their service plans on vehicles that are still in warranty (!).

So why should anyone think that OTA updates somehow translate to lost revenue?

I don’t think GM is going to release weekly OTA updates just to look fancy. It would be crazy, as software can’t be stable when it is updated weekly. Necessary updates will save GM money that would be paid to dealers to do the updates. Dealer’s money is not GM money.
I didn’t heard about mass market automakers other than Tesla who make significant money on maintenance. Many provide free maintenance for first years. E.g. it was 4 years at BMW, reduced to 3 years now.

It isn’t optional if you want extended warranty or return leased car.

Which brand of car requires you to purchase a service plan? Be specific.

In the case of BMW, maintenance for the first 3 years is free anyway.

Hmmm, I dunno, I think Spider-Dan has a point here. I suppose you could pay as you go for Tesla service center visits, but to avoid voiding the warranty, you must have four annual checkups every year. I don’t know what the pricing is, but common sense says that Tesla would price it so that if you didn’t buy their annual service contract, you’d wind up paying more than that $600/year to maintain the warranty.

And it’s not like you can get proper service at a service center that’s not authorized by Tesla. Sure, you could get some body damage repaired, or some purely mechanical work like replacing tires or a front end alignment, at just about any auto repair/service shop. But anything that requires plugging the car into a diagnostic computer, anything associated with the car’s powertrain or the electronics, would require a visit to a Tesla authorized service center.

Update/Correction to my post:

After some research, it looks like it’s no longer true, if it ever was, that not getting your car serviced 4 times per year will void the warranty. See the link I posted in a comment a bit further down.

I have had a Model S for over a year and have had many software updates and do not have the $600/year maintenance plan. I read though that plan agreement and am not clear on its purpose. The car is under warranty and I have never had a problem after 24K miles, so don’t plan on getting it.

Hmmm, I had gotten the impression from various posts online — including at the official Tesla Motors website forum — that not getting the car serviced regularly by an authorized Tesla service tech would void the warranty.

But looking a little deeper, it seems that’s not true, altho it may have been true back when the Model S was new. At least, that’s what is claimed in this Tesla Motors Club discussion:

It also depends on the jurisdiction! In Norway corporations are not allowed to hide behind formalities. If there’s something wrong with the car it isn’t sufficient for the seller to point to services not being followed. They must prove that the specific failure is DUE TO services not having been followed. And the burden of proof is on them, not the customer. The buyer is also free to have servicing done by someone other than the seller – as long as they are qualified. In principle, if the seller proves a failure is due to incorrect servicing the buyer can then use this evidence to demand that the party doing the incorrect servicing mitigates the damage it has caused. Of course in practice much depends on how a seller behaves. But customers who know their rights and are persistent are hard to dismiss. I think it is a good system and actually very business friendly. It sets up all the right incentives for sellers to really try and ensure they don’t sell too much crap or it’ll cost them. And it allows buyers to shop in confidence. Areas it doesn’t work well in are those where it’s nearly impossible to… Read more »

Just a guess, but I suspect the Over The Air updates hype by GM will be for the info-tainment system and not the actually computer control systems for the car.

OR .. maybe they’ll download it and tell the owner to take the car to the dealer to finish the install?? 🙂

It’s not so much hype as an answer to a question posed at a conference.

And what are your reasons..? To my mind the OTA updates are the biggest no-brainer in ages. For one thing customers seem to love it (it is often touted as one of the “wow” experiences for Tesla owners when their car has updated itself in some noticeable way). Even more important, it can in many cases turn what would otherwise be an expensive and unpopular and of course noticeable recall into silently pushing a fix to every car – saving millions and a ton of bad press. Add to this the fact that cars now have much more software on board and the case is complete. You don’t want to go to the dealer whenever Google or Apple releases a minor update to Android Auto or CarPlay. For end users the typical update will likely manifest itself mainly as improvements to the infotainment system. Perhaps most updates will only affect that. But having the option to update any software on board is clearly the main advantage of OTA, and GM would be silly not to make use of it. Finally, I don’t think GM would want to emphasize how much they’ve put into making OTA updates secure if the system… Read more »

This is good news! Yet another desirable feature that I predict will be a common feature of GEN II EV’s in general.

Welcome to the future, whether some folks don’t like it or not….

Good to know.

I see that GM is, once again, again singing “We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader; we’re following the leader, wherever he may go.” 😀

It’s a good thing that Tesla is leading the way in the EV revolution, because if they weren’t, it would stall out.

You may well be right to credit Tesla with the Bolt. But as a matter of obvious fact, Tesla is not the leader right now. Last I heard, they’d promised to deliver a 215 miler by late 2017, which is a year later than GM delivers a 238-miler. You’d have to wear at the very least some specially-tinted glasses to see Tesla in the lead here. Maybe even a mind-bending hemlet of sorts. Tesla has been complaining about the lack of competition since its inception. Now they’ve got some, we’ll see how they like it. Everyone, including Tesla themselves, says the Model 3 will make or break them. GM seems to do its best to make sure it’s the latter. That’s competition. I hope Tesla can out-invent GM and live on to challenge trucks, trailers and the rest of it for decades to come. But I’m really glad that they now have real competition – if only from one direction. Imagine the clashes we will see in the years ahead, as manufacturers all over the world and a heap of new entrants to the industry all battle it out to dominate a reinvented auto industry! I think it’s time to… Read more »

I think the assumption that dealerships will be against improvements that mean fewer visits to them is shaky. Of course they would prefer if everyone had to come by and spend a lot of money there every single day. But they understand that in a competitive world that’s not in their power. After all, cars today are much more reliable and require less fixing than they did 20 years ago – although this has perhaps been compensated for by the decline of self-servicing.

Dealerships that understand how the modern world works will also understand that customer satisfaction is the primary route to success and profits. People are already likely to research which dealerships have happy customers before setting foot in a store, and the tools for people to easily get and contribute such information are getting better all the time. Smart dealerships will support OTA updates because it is likely to make customers much more satisfied. And in any case every manufacturer will get there in a matter of a few years. The benefits are just too great and they really don’t have a choice.

No, dealers do not understand how the modern world works. If they did, they wouldn’t be in court and in the state legislatures trying to stop Tesla from selling cars directly to consumers. Rather they would try to compete by offering something of value to the consumer and let the market decide.