General Motors CEO Mary Barra was one of many high-profile guests at the Automotive News World Congress, and she made a big claim.
She said GM has sold 200,000 electric cars and not a single one has needed a battery replacement. That’s an incredible feat noting GM has sold vehicles with lithium-ion batteries since the first-generation Volt, and drivers have covered hundreds of thousands of miles with their batteries providing the sole power to the wheels.
It’s worth noting a small number of Chevrolet Bolt EVs have had their batteries replaced as part of a recall campaign in April 2018, but Barra was likely referring to the need to replace a battery pack due to degradation—when a battery no longer functions as intended to provide the sufficient amount of range. Most Bolt EVs received a software update to stave off the problem, but a few electric cars housed bad cells in the battery.
The Volt, however, can make that claim. Zero batteries have been replaced for degradation, which is more significant since the Volt has been on sale far longer than the Bolt EV.
It’s a major contrast to one of Chevrolet’s main electric car rivals: Nissan. Nissan Leaf models have suffered from major battery degradation in the past. One model recorded 51 percent degradation this year after seven years of use. That’s as if the battery lost 1 percent of its range every 1,240 miles.
The healthy track record should help GM as it moves to introduce more electric cars in the future. Cadillac will lead the charge with a new SUV based on a dedicated EV platform early next decade. However, every battery will eventually die and need replacing. It’s not as if GM’s batteries are bulletproof, they’re simply standing the test of time better than some others.