Former GM Engineer Reacts to the Hubbub Over the Major Chevy Bolt EV Recall

Vehicle recalls are nothing new. Just about every vehicle manufacturer will experience one at some point. However, some vehicles are more subject to them than others. One of these vehicles is the Chevy Bolt EV. Along with experiencing manufacturing delays from the ongoing chip shortage earlier this year, it had a massive recall recently. In light of this, InsideEVs recently published an op-ed written by David Rea detailing the situation and his reaction to it. Read on to find out more about the recent recall and David Rea’s view on the whole situation.

A silver 2017 Chevy Bolt, which has among those recalled, against a blue background with white print on it.
2017 Chevy Bold | Getty Images

Overview of the Chevy Bolt EV recall

Recently, General Motors (GM) had to halt all production of Chevy Bolt EVs until further notice. Many drivers have had their vehicles spontaneously combust from faulty battery module issues. The company already had problems from the chip shortage earlier this year, which will set back Chevy’s EV progress even further. According to InsideEVs, “it’s the first 100% “full-fleet” safety recall of any mass-market EV” out there.

Former GM engineer’s reaction to the Chevy Bolt recall

In an article for InsideEVs, David Rea, a former engineer at GM, decided to dig into some of the data behind the recall. He first compared past recall incidents and national data with the Bolt EV’s data and then gave some possible ideas for GM moving forward.

In the past recall incidents section, Rea mentions a few significant cases of fires among gas-powered vehicles. For example, BMW had to recall over a million cars due to engine fires in 2017. GM has also had to do this in 2021 and recalled 10,000 vans due to electrical fires.

While these fires may seem like shocking incidents caused by company malfeasance, Rea found that the Bolt EV fires aren’t particularly more common than cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs). There have only been 19 fires regarding the recall, which means that any particular Bolt EV has around a 0.01% chance of combusting. This is less than ICE vehicles, which have around a 0.07% chance of combusting. While Rea admits some data limitations to this comparison, he ultimately concludes that the Bolt EVs aren’t necessarily more dangerous than other vehicles.

Naturally, this is still an issue as vehicle defects shouldn’t be happening. This is a position that Rea still holds. At the end of the article, he discussed some next steps for GM to move forward from this situation, both for the company’s sake and the general public. He cautions that the already-hesitant public will avoid EVs more than they already have in the past without proper steps. This was seemingly part of his motivation for writing the article, considering he provided detailed statistical comparisons between the safety of the Chevy Bolt EV and typical gas-powered vehicles.

These steps mainly boil down to being upfront and open about the issue, including providing information on repairs after the recall and issuing updates. In addition, Rea suggests publishing relevant papers related to the manufacturing process, which will help other manufacturers avoid this issue in the future.

More details about David Rea

As previously mentioned, David Rea was an engineer at GM. Among some of the things he worked on were some of GM’s hybrid vehicles. In 2010, he moved on to work as a senior partner at AppliedLogix in Rochester, New York, which he still works at to this day. He uses his engineering background to develop electronics that use fuel cells and batteries for a wide range of industries.

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