It's a tough situation all around.
In unfortunate news for one Alaskan Chevrolet Bolt EV owner, they have been informed that replacing their battery under recall will take around four years. A person wrote to InsideEVs explaining the predicament they have with their 2020 model year car residing in the remote Alaskan town of Sitka.
Sitka is a tiny, and we mean under 8,500 people tiny, unified city-borough located just southwest of the capital of Juneau. It's its own island, with no road connection to mainland Alaska, and definitely no charging infrastructure. The only way to get there is by boat, plane, or ferry, and the ferry only comes once a month and takes a whopping 12 hours. Why the owner, Patricia, owns an EV there with no charging infrastructure and seeing as EVs, and the Bolt especially, hate cold weather, is beyond us, but we have to applaud her for it.
For some context, the Chevy Bolt EV battery recall has been one of the biggest news stories in recent years. The little EVs struggled for most of 2021 with battery fire issues that plagued the vehicles and forced GM at one point to recommend they only be parked outside. Eventually, the root of the problem was found, which prompted an absolutely massive $2-billion recall that battery maker LG was mainly forced to bear, seeing as it was its fault.
The issue for Patricia is that she lives nowhere near a dealership that can do the swap. This means she will have to travel to the nearest dealership in Juneau, at least 12 hours or so away, to get the job done. When she called the dealership to schedule the appointment, though, she was met with the rather grim news that it would take about four years before they would be able to replace her car's battery.
The dealership informed her that it only conducts about eight battery swaps a month due to the very limited number of replacements that it receives. This meant that she was pushed to the back of the list, hence the extremely long wait.
Now obviously, this wasn't good enough for her, so she decided to contact the dealer she originally purchased the car at in Seattle, Washington, to see if they'd be able to speed up the process. Incredibly, they essentially told her the same thing, that it would be years before they could get to her car, even though they have a much greater battery-swapping potential.
This is an absurd reality an owner has to face, especially when it means their vehicle can potentially burn down in the meantime. Supposedly, GM is focusing on older 2017-2019 Bolt models first, as these units have a greater chance of failing, but this isn't comforting news to newer Bolt owners without answers. As of right now, less than 3% of 2020 and 2021 Bolts have had their batteries replaced.
To make matters worse, there's a new Bolt EV fire recall for owners to worry about, although it's not battery related. It's yet another black mark on a relatively great EV and a testament that GM has to pull it together.