Troubling reports of months long delays for replacement car parts are unacceptable— Long standing consumer nightmare must be remedied immediately
[Hartford, CT] –U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today wrote to the General Motors Company (GM) demanding that the company resolve irresponsible delays for replacement parts that are creating a nightmare for Connecticut consumers who have been denied repairs on their Chevrolet Volt vehicles for months.
In March 2022, GM alerted consumers that drivers with a 2016 to 2019 model Chevrolet Volt may need to replace the car’s Battery Energy Control Module (BECM). While GM said it had a sufficient supply of BECMs, consumers have reported unacceptable, lengthy wait times for a part.
“I am deeply troubled by reports that your customers, including many of my constituents, have been denied repairs on their Chevrolet Volt vehicles for months. General Motors Company is failing such Volt owners by its inability to replace the Volt’s Battery Energy Control Module and provide adequate alternative means of transportation in the interim. I strongly urge GM to prioritize customer needs and request it outline the steps it is taking to immediately resolve this issue for all customers,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter.
In November 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an ongoing investigation into the more than 70,000 Volts on the road because of the BECM issue, citing the hazard of a vehicle suddenly stopping on the road during a BECM failure.
In the letter, Blumenthal requests a detailed response from GM outlining what steps they have taken to resolve this issue for consumers and what services, resources, or other benefits the company offers consumers waiting for their BECM to be replaced.
A full copy of Blumenthal’s letter can be found below and here.
January 12, 2024
Ms. Mary T. Barra
Chair and Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Company
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, Michigan 48243
Dear Ms. Barra,
I am deeply troubled by reports that your customers, including many of my constituents, have been denied repairs on their Chevrolet Volt vehicles for months. General Motors Company (GM) is failing such Volt owners by its inability to replace the Volt’s Battery Energy Control Module (BECM) and provide adequate alternative means of transportation in the interim. I strongly urge GM to prioritize customer needs and request it outline the steps it is taking to immediately resolve this issue for all customers.
This consumer nightmare is long-standing and indeed irresponsible. In March 2022, GM issued Technical Service Bulletin 18-NA-261, which indicated that model year 2016 to 2019 Chevrolet Volt vehicles may need their BECMs replaced.1 Last November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the more than 70,000 Volts on the road, citing the hazard of a vehicle suddenly stopping if it lost “motive power” during reported BECM failures.2 I welcome NHTSA’s investigation and remind you that any NHTSA finding of a safety-related defect imposes a responsibility on GM to provide consumers a free remedy to the defect pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30120.
Unfortunately, NHTSA’s investigation provides no help to consumers with a current BECM issue. While GM has said it has a sufficient supply of BECMs to perform replacements as necessary, customers report very different facts.3 Customers have lengthy, many month waits before their BECM is replaced.4 In addition, though some were provided loaner cars from their
dealers while awaiting their BECM replacements, many others were not. Instead they were offered a reimbursement that failed to cover local rental car costs or the dealer permitted them to keep driving their own vehicles despite the BECM issue. This failure is unacceptable; your customers deserve better.
I respectfully request a response detailing the following: when GM first became aware of the BECM issue, what steps GM has taken and plans to take to both resolve the issue and provide a timely repair for consumers, and what services, resources, or other benefits does GM provide to its customers who are waiting for the BECM on their car to be replaced, including alternate means of transportation.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
1 General Motors Company, “Technical Service Bulletin 18-NA-261,” March 2022, https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2022/MC-10209256-0001.pdf.
2 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Loss of Motive Power due to the Battery Energy Control Module,” November 29, 2023, https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/inv/2023/INOA-PE23022-12664.pdf.
3 David Shepardson, “US opens probe into 73,000 Chevrolet Volt cars over loss of power,” Reuters, December 1, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/us-opens-probe-into-73000-chevrolet-volt-cars-over-loss-power-2023-12-01/.
4 David Collins, “OPINION: Sen. Blumenthal: What about my unrepairable electric Chevrolet,” The Day, January 3, 2024, https://www.theday.com/local-columns/20240103/opinion-sen-blumenthal-what-about-my-unrepairable-electric-chevrolet/; multiple authors, posts to “Battery Energy Control Module Failure BECM 2018 Volt Premiere 4-1/2 month wait – updated,” GM Volt Forum, https://www.gm-volt.com/threads/battery-energy-control-module-failure-becm-2018-volt-premiere-4-1-2-month-wait-updated.343970/ (accessed January 4, 2024).
5 Multiple authors, posts to “BECM (battery energy control module) issues and inconvenience — class action?” GM Volt Forum, https://www.gm-volt.com/threads/becm-battery-energy-control-module-issues-and-inconvenience-%E2%80%94-class-action.343297/ (accessed January 4, 2024).