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Will GM's Bolt recall hurt EV acceptance? Well, it 'does not help'

Kalea Hall, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

For displeased customers, including those with no defect battery modules, GM will review each case and request individually. GM believes the battery defects are rare and anticipates only a "small percentage" of the more than 68,000 recalled to have them, Flores said.

The automaker did not specify how much the recall will cost, but it's possible some customers may not want the vehicle at all and ask GM to buy it back or ask for a new replacement battery even if no defect is found. That could get costly.

"If they can't figure out a way to confirm that a battery pack does or doesn't have this defect, and they do have to replace all 69,000 of these batteries, that's going to be really expensive and take a long time," Brauer said. "That's going to be kind of a next evolution and it will have an impact on the perception."

This is not the first time that consumers have heard about battery fires. Tesla, Hyundai and others have also had them.

"In general, any time you've got something like battery fires ... regardless of what manufacturer it is, it's never a good look for EVs," said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Guidehouse Insights. "GM is about to roll out a whole fleet of electric vehicles; they probably should have done a better job in terms of how they handled this particular situation."


As far as the Bolt battery fires affecting consumer acceptance, Abuelsamid says: "People have remarkably short memories about this ... this is probably going to be a short-term story. I don't think that a year from now most people will even remember it."

But with EV sales at about 2% of all sales in the U.S. market, automakers still have a ways to go on consumer acceptance for non-EV enthusiasts.

"We're still in that kind of assessment period for the average consumer on whether or not they want to buy an EV," Brauer said. "This does not help."

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