General Motors (GM) is recalling around 70,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles (EVs) due to fire risks, including the newest version of its self-driving subsidiary Cruise’s Origin shuttle. The recall affects model year 2017 to 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EVs, as well as all 2022 Bolt EUV models. GM Cruise plans to begin operating its self-driving Origin shuttle, which is based on the Bolt, in San Francisco in 2023.
According to GM, the recall was prompted by reports of five battery fires resulting in two injuries. The company has asked owners of affected Bolt models to park their vehicles outside and not charge them overnight until the battery can be replaced. GM has identified two manufacturing defects that could cause the battery to catch fire, one of which was addressed in a previous recall.
GM Cruise said in a statement that it has been working closely with GM to ensure the Origin shuttle is safe and that it is confident in the measures GM has taken to address the battery issue. However, the company did not specify whether the recall would affect its plans to deploy the Origin in 2023.
This is not the first time GM has faced issues with the Bolt’s battery. The company recalled more than 140,000 Bolt EVs in November 2020 due to fire risks, with another 73,000 recalled in July 2021. The latest recall brings the total number of Bolt EVs recalled to over 142,000 in the United States alone.
The Bolt has been one of GM’s most successful EVs, with the company selling around 20,000 units in the United States in the first quarter of 2021. However, the battery issues have caused setbacks for the automaker, which has had to halt production of the Bolt at its plant in Michigan several times.
GM Cruise’s plans for the Origin shuttle have also been delayed. The company initially planned to launch the vehicle in 2019, but has faced regulatory hurdles and technical challenges. The Origin shuttle is designed to be fully autonomous and does not have a steering wheel or pedals, making it different from most self-driving vehicles currently on the road.
The latest recall is another setback for GM Cruise as it prepares to launch the Origin in San Francisco in 2023. The company has been testing the vehicle in California, and has said it plans to eventually expand the service to other cities. However, it remains to be seen how the recall will impact those plans.
The recall also highlights the challenges facing automakers as they shift towards electrification and autonomy. Battery safety is a major concern for EVs, and any issues can cause significant reputational damage. At the same time, self-driving technology is still in its infancy, and companies face a range of technical and regulatory hurdles.
Despite the setbacks, GM Cruise remains one of the most well-funded and well-known players in the self-driving space. The company has raised over $5 billion in funding, including a recent investment from Microsoft, and has partnerships with major automakers like Honda and Toyota. It also has a testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which allows it to operate self-driving vehicles on public roads in the state.
In conclusion, the latest recall of the Chevrolet Bolt EVs affects not only GM but also its self-driving subsidiary, GM Cruise. The recall highlights the challenges facing automakers as they shift towards electrification and autonomy, and the importance of battery safety for EVs. While GM Cruise remains one of the most well-funded and well-known players in the self-driving space, the recall is a setback for the company as it prepares to launch its self-driving Origin shuttle in San Francisco in 2023.