Just weeks after Shelter Island was celebrating the purchase of an electric-powered Chevy Bolt for the Building Department, it’s been revealed that the vehicle has a serious flaw requiring rapid replacement of its battery to avoid a dangerous explosion and fire.
Several days ago General Motors issued a recall on all Chevy Bolts, but apparently hasn’t sent notices to purchasers yet.
Building Inspector Reed Karen said he had no knowledge of the recall, and said Senior Building Inspector Chris Tehan was in the car onThursday doing inspections and site visits.
The information on the problem is readily available from General Motors online, but the company’s media relations department hasn’t responded to questions about what efforts are being made to inform owners of the car about the problem.
According to the online notice of the recall, GM will replace the defective lithium ion battery.
Until replacement takes place, GM is advising owners to set their recharge limitation to 90%. The company provides a video of how this should be done, also advising those not comfortable with performing steps necessary to set the lower limit to visit a local dealer to have the adjustment made. The company also advises more frequent charging to avoid depleting the battery below approximately 70 miles of its remaining range.
“Park your vehicle outside immediately after charging and do not leave your vehicle charging indoors overnight,” the advisory said.
A recent CBS report on the situation cited the need to park a Chevy Bolt a distance from any structure because it can explode and result in a fire that will not only destroy the vehicle, but light an adjacent building on fire. The report said fire departments can’t contain the fire in the car, but only stand by until it burns itself out.
What action the Town intends to take is unclear. Supervisor Gerry Siller, informed of the situation on Thursday, hasn’t responded to a request for comment. But since GM hadn’t announced the full recall, it’s possible the partial recall either doesn’t apply to the specific vehicle purchased and the full recall only came in the past week.
The choice of the Bolt was made because the price was competitive and the Town would receive a $7,500 rebate from New York State, Mr. Tehan told the Reporter for a July 29 story. Plans then were to explore the possibility of the Town purchasing a second electric vehicle for the Police Department in line with its efforts to enhance the use of green energy sources.
To save money, the traditional practice has been to hand down older cars, no longer viable for police use, that could serve other departments where vehicle use would be less demanding. Purchasing a new vehicle for the Building Department was unusual.
To ensure authorized that users of State vehicle contracts are able to procure the vehicles that fit their needs, the Office of General Services (OGS) established the Vehicle Marketplace, according to OGS spokesman Joseph Brill. The result is contract users are no longer choosing from a list of available vehicles. Instead, they fill out what is called a mini-bid, either providing specifications for the type of vehicle they want to purchase or requesting a specific vehicle, Mr. Brill said. OGS places the mini-bid on its Vehicle Marketplace and dealers on contract can respond to the request.
This system provides for a greater variety of vehicles and manufacturers from which a buyer can choose, he explained.
The authorized contract user evaluates the mini-bid responses and decides whether or not to purchase the vehicle, he said.
An online search revealed that General Motors first recalled some Chevy Bolts as far back as last November because of fire danger, but didn’t post a full recall of all such vehicles until the past week.