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Bolt owners were punished

Bolt owners were punished

Christine Booker loves her Bolt, which she purchased in October 2020.

This car is really very efficient and comfortable..

At the time of purchase, you were not aware that there was a problem with the battery. Less than a year later, in the fall of 2021, Bolt underwent a global recall.

All batteries in all models must be replaced. Due to a manufacturing defect, they pose a fire hazard when loaded to or very close to their maximum capacity.

Since then, Bolt owners have had to deal with significant restrictions, including limiting the battery charge to 80% of its capacity.

I bought a car that was supposed to have a range of 410-420 km. I found myself with a vehicle that had a range of about 320 kilometres. This is during the summer, Christine Booker confirms. When the temperature is -20°C, -25°C, my range is barely 160 to 170 km. It’s not much.

Christine Booker drives her Bolt.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Martin Jolicoeur

GM changes direction

Christine Booker is eagerly awaiting the promised battery. But last August, after nearly two years of waiting, she learned that her turn would not come.

While the automaker has already replaced the battery in 2017 to 2019 models and even some 2020 to 2022 models, it will instead install the software on the 2020 Bolt.

Software will also limit charging to 80%, as well as monitor the battery for 10,000 kilometres. If something abnormal is detected, the battery will then be replaced. If nothing abnormal is detected, it can be recharged to 100% again.

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Which means, for Christine Booker and many other Bolt owners from 2020 to 2022, she will have to drive another 10,000 kilometers behind the wheel of a much less efficient Bolt.

You are unfair. There are cars from 2020, 2021, and even 2022 that have had their batteries changed. There, don’t change me! It’s just frustrating.

GM declined our request for an interview, simply telling us that the recall is to replace defective batteries and that the goal remains the same.

GM’s recall of the 2020-2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV was to replace faulty battery modules, says Natalie Nankel, General Motors Canada. GM is continuing to work with owners of certain 2020-2022 Chevrolet Bolt EVs and EUVs covered by this recall to provide new advanced diagnostic software that detects if the battery is defective and needs to be replaced..

As for how many owners are affected by this change in direction, or how many 2020 Bolts actually get a new battery, GM is still being tight-lipped.

George Al-Aini, President of the Association for the Protection of Motorists (APA).

George Al-Aini, President of the Association for the Protection of Motorists (APA).

Photo: Radio-Canada/Martin Jolicoeur

No new guarantees or compensation

However, GM presented the recall as a benefit to its customers, insisting they would get new, more efficient batteries. GM also confirmed that customers will benefit from an eight-year or 160,000 km warranty.

However, Bolt owners who now inherit the software instead of new batteries should underline this new warranty.

The head of the Automobile Protection Association (APA) strongly criticizes GM.

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It’s an injustice that GM is doing to its customers, denounces George Eni. They have created two categories of customers: the first receives new batteries and a starting-from-zero warranty on the batteries, and the second receives software for another six months or 10,000 kilometers of restrictions. […] We withdrew the offer on the guarantee.

The APA asked GM to reverse its decision and offer an improved warranty to all of its customers, whether they get a new battery or not. It remained a dead letter.

They have broken trust with their customers […] GM’s management of the Bolt recall, and I’m talking about its communications management and customer relationship, is clumsy.

I'm Jack Castonguay.

I’m Jack Castonguay.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Compensation of punished owners

Me Jacques Castonguay led several actions against car manufacturers. He does not believe GM can be forced to reverse its decision and replace the batteries. According to him, seeking a court injunction to this effect would have little chance of success. But clients are not without recourse. They could file a small lawsuit against GM or even a class action lawsuit.

I can’t force you to replace the battery, Castonguay explains to me. Now, you chose to fix it differently, but for this lady, that represents a loss in value of the car and you will have to make up for it. Because also, with the new batteries, there was an extension of the warranty. Extended Warranty When I resell my car, it definitely adds value.

In the U.S., GM has offered compensation of US$1,400, the equivalent of about $1,900 CAD, to Bolt owners who don’t receive new batteries and who install the new software by the end of December.

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In Canada, GM did not provide any compensation.

Christine Booker hopes to receive compensation one day, but it appears the American manufacturer has already lost a good customer.

“It’s unfortunate that I’ve been a good ambassador for GM and for Bolt,” she says. People ask me: Would you buy a Bolt again? Probably not. Would you buy a GM car? Probably not. The way they treated me was unacceptable.

A report by journalist Annie Houdon-Freso and director Martin Jolicoeur will be screened this evening at 7:30pm as part of the La Bill show. »