By 2025, GM wants to introduce 30 new electric vehicles around the world, with the goal of selling solely zero-emission vehicles by 2035. However, over the last few years, the world’s largest automaker has squandered its advantages in the still-emerging field of electric vehicles due to bad politics, bad investments, and, most recently, a massive recall of the Bolt — the company’s only all-electric vehicle — due to around a dozen reported fires.
GM stated on Thursday that the Bolt’s manufacturing shutdown will be extended until mid-October because it hasn’t been able to secure a new battery from LG that is up to snuff. It will also require a large number of them since GM has recalled all Bolts produced to date – approximately 150,000.
Meanwhile, GM gave Bolt owners another reason to be concerned this week when it encouraged them to park at least 50 feet away from other vehicles. This is in addition to the prior advice given to owners, which included parking far away from their homes, not charging overnight, not charging above 90%, and not allowing their vehicle’s battery to discharge below 70 miles of range.
Despite the low chances of a fire, all of this has made owning a Bolt a stressful and perplexing experience. Some owners have attempted to sell their Bolts back to GM, which the firm has done in some situations, but has been turned down. Since the initial recall in November 2020, the firm has provided only sporadic updates. It took until May 2021 for GM to announce its first effort at a remedy (which failed), and it wasn’t until July of that year that the carmaker publicly admitted what the issue was in the first place.
Kevin Kelly, who oversees Chevy’s public relations team, said, that had been a highly difficult recall, but they’ve been moving as swiftly as can to provide our customers with information as we discovered new developments with their supplier, LG. He added that they understand and respect the irritation that Bolt EV owners have had over the last few months, but ensured that they are committed to doing the right thing for their consumers and that they realize that the recall repair must be done correctly.
“We are continuing to make progress and will work as soon as possible to update owners when new information becomes available,” he said.
The Bolt, which debuted in 2016, was supposed to help GM accomplish two goals: establish GM as the first automaker to match Tesla with a mass-market, long-range electric vehicle, and also make everyone forget that GM had once briefly led in this category with the EV1 — before abandoning it so completely that most of the remaining units were crushed to bits. It worked for a time. Throughout the previous half-decade, the Bolt has been one of the most proficient, capable, and inexpensive electric cars on the market.
While GM was putting its image on the line for constitutional posturing, it began making similarly dubious financial decisions. First, it poured its clout behind Rivian, a buzzy electric vehicle company. In exchange for a large investment, GM sought exclusive rights to the technology that would power Rivian’s electric pickup truck and SUV. Rivian respectfully declined, then went on to raise more than $10 billion from companies like Ford and Amazon on its route to an IPO that may see its worth jump to nearly $100 billion — all without agreeing to an exclusivity arrangement.
Then, under tremendous public pressure from the Trump administration, GM sold a recently closed plant in Lordstown, Ohio to Lordstown Motors, a brand new electric pickup truck startup helmed by a man who had recently left his position as CEO of another unproven EV firm, Workhorse. GM also bought a tiny stake in Lordstown Motors and took part in the startup’s merger with a special purpose acquisition business as an investor. As part of the arrangement, GM had the option of naming a board member, but it chose not to do so.
Shortly after that, GM announced a partnership with Nikola, a hydrogen-electric trucking startup with its own pickup vehicle idea. However, in late 2020, Nikola’s founder and now former CEO was accused of (and ultimately indicted for) reportedly lying about a number of Nikola’s capabilities. GM abruptly withdrew. Similar claims were leveled against the founder of Lordstown Motors earlier this year, and he was eventually fired. However, GM still owns a tiny share in Lordstown Motors.
GM has already regained favour with the Biden administration. Few will remember the company’s involvement in two sketchy startups, or the automaker’s failed attempt to corral one of the hottest electric vehicle companies to come to market in our time in a few years when electric Hummers and Silverados cruising the roads powered by the company’s next-generation battery pack. These were, after all, the types of metaphorical fires that are simpler to put out.
The Bolt’s difficulties, on the other hand, may throw a long shadow – because this time the flames are genuine.