The Chevy Bolt EV battery recall saga has been an incredible inconvenience for many early adopters that bought one. GM first asked Bolt EV owners not to park the vehicle inside or charge overnight. GM spokesman Dan Flores later recommended that Bolt EV owners not park within 50 feet of any other vehicle.
For some customers, it was impossible to comply with GM's instructions and it's no secret that this led to many unhappy Bolt EV owners. After months of wondering how GM will ultimately rectify the problem, the company finally announced that they will replace the battery packs in all Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs produced from 2017 through 2022, and directed customers to schedule the service with their local dealership.
GM isn't only replacing a faulty module or two, they are giving all Bolt EV owners entirely new LG Chem battery backs, plus new warranties.
When the Bolt EV was introduced in 2017 it had a 60 kWh pack and was EPA range rated at 238 miles. Then, in 2020 GM increased the battery capacity to 66 kWh, which added 21 miles of EPA-rated range and the 2020 Bolt's official rating was 259 miles.
However, under the recall and replacement plan, all Bolt EVs will get the new larger battery pack. That means the Bolts made in 2017 through 2019 will not only get a brand spanking new battery pack, but they will now have more capacity than their original pack did when it was new.
But since these vehicles aren't new, the batteries have already begun to degrade, so the capacity difference from their original packs to the new replacement pack will be even greater.
A friend of ours, Stan Jaracz, founder and president of Central Jersey Electric Auto Association, has two 2017 Bolt EVs, both of which have had their batteries replaced under the recall.
But before the second Bolt had the replacement, we conducted a 70-mph range test with it. The car then had the new battery installed, and we repeated the test the day after the battery was replaced, seven days after the original range test.
We conducted the first test on February 27, and the second one on March 6th. The temperature was about the same on both days and the vehicle had the same winter tires fitted to the same wheels for both range tests.
The only difference was that Stan did the first test by himself, and I came along for the ride for the second run. Therefore, the Bolt with the new replacement battery pack had to carry an extra 190 lbs. (It should have only been 175 extra lbs, but I'm guilty of adding the "COVID 15", also)
On both runs, we charged the vehicle up to 100% and ended the range test with 2% state of charge. The original battery pack had 73,000 miles on it, and Stan told me that it already had some noticeable capacity loss.
Stan was able to drive the Bolt with the original pack 165.7 miles, and we finished up the range test with the new pack after driving 188.2 miles. That's a 13.5% range increase - not a bad bonus for having to go through this whole battery recall process, especially when you consider you also get a fresh battery warranty.