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Chevrolet Bolt EV Owners Will Eventually Get A Payout

Chevrolet stopped producing the Bolt EV last year after several battery fires. Now, a settlement has determined that frustrated owners will get some sort of payout.

Chevrolet had an EV hit on its hands with the popular Bolt and Bolt EUV until a problem with battery fires caused recalls. Chevy phased out production of the two models in late 2023 and plans to reintroduce the EV on an Ultium platform in late 2025. Now, there is word that a settlement between GM and LGChem may provide some relief to current Bolt owners. Reuters is reporting that “General Motors and South Korea's LG Energy Solution and LG Electronics reached a settlement to establish a $150 million fund to provide relief to Chevrolet Bolt EV owners affected by defective batteries, documents filed in a U.S. court on Thursday showed.”

"GM, LG Energy Solution and LG Electronics have agreed to a settlement with plaintiffs to resolve class action litigation related to the Bolt EV battery recall," GM said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

The Sad Part Is That the Bolt Was Really Successful

From the moment it debuted in 2017, the Chevrolet Bolt has been viewed as a great improvement from Chevy’s original EV called the Volt. The Bolt was Chevrolet’s first long-range, mass-produced EV available to customers at an affordable price. Sales of Bolt EV and Bolt EUV through the first half of 2023 were been the strongest to date. According to Chevrolet, eighty percent of Bolt owners are loyal to Chevy and nearly 70 percent of buyers who are trading in a vehicle for Bolt are trading in a non-GM product. That is why it is called a conquest vehicle, because it brings in buyers from other automakers. Toward the end of its run, The Bolt added a larger, more comfortable version called the Bolt EUV. The fires seemed contained to the original Bolt.

Unfortunately, buyers started reported battery fires as early as 2020. My colleague John Goreham reported on a Bolt fire as late as August of 2023.

The owner of the vehicle told reporters, “It sounded like a big poof. And he looked to the window, and he saw the smoke.” The owner reports that she had been leasing the 2021 Bolt for three years and that she had taken the vehicle to have the battery-fire recall work performed, however, she reports "...they had no batteries to give us. So, we were waiting."

What the Settlement Offers

 It appears that only Bolt owners who received a battery replacement or who have installed the latest advanced diagnostic software are entitled to compensation.

According to documents in the case, owners of the recalled Bolt EVs who had the final software fix at a GM-authorized dealership before Dec. 31, 2023 may receive up to $1,400. court.

Owners who sold or terminated the lease of their vehicle before the software fix became available or the owners who battery replacement should receive a minimum $700 payment. No word on when the actual payments will be made. 

I’m not sure that is fair to other Bolt owners who are driving a vehicle that has a tarnished name. Last July, when GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed that the Bolt would be back, she said,

“Our customers love today’s Bolt. It has been delivering record sales and some of the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty scores in the industry,” said Barra. “It’s also an important source of conquest sales for the company and for Chevrolet.”

“We will keep the momentum going by delivering a new  Bolt…and we will execute it more quickly compared to an all-new program with significantly lower engineering expense and capital investment by updating the vehicle with  Ultium and Ultifi technologies and by applying our ‘winning with simplicity’ discipline.”

When the Bolt Will Be Back

As I reported earlier this month, Chevrolet is phasing out its long running Malibu to make room to produce the new Bolt. The Fairfax plant produces the Chevrolet Malibu and the Cadillac XT4 small luxury SUV. The plant will end production of the Malibu in November and pause production of the XT4 in January of 2025. The plant will undergo a nearly $400 million dollar upgrade to build EVs and reopen in late 2025. Plans are to build the revamped Chevrolet Bolt EV and Cadillac XT4 on the same line when the plant reopens. The XT4 is gas-powered and for now, it appears it will continue to be an ICE vehicle. If the plant reopens in late 2025, vehicles could be for sale in late 2025 or early 2026.

Chevrolet Photo

Mary Conway is a professional automotive journalist and has decades of experience specializing in automotive news analysis. She covered the Detroit Three for more than twenty years for the ABC affiliate, in Detroit. Her affection for the Motor City comes naturally. Her father ran a gas station while Mary was growing up, in Wisconsin.

Follow Mary Conway at @MaryConwayMedia and send her car news tips for future stories.