Model-year 2016 through 2019 Chevy Volt sedans are now under investigation by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, for alleged sudden power loss in a variety of different situations.
The NHTSA received 61 complaints about the Chevy Volt power loss, though no injuries or fatalities have occurred yet, and has started a preliminary investigation of the issue.
A variety of problems have been reported, including an inability to start the vehicle (no-start condition). The Chevy Volt may also continue to operate but at a lesser level of power, or it may stall out. Some incidents have involved a total loss of power, which can happen at a range of different speeds, with the vehicle refusing to restart in certain cases.
The loss of motive power happens with no warning, or very little warning, according to many of the complaints. The NHTSA points out that a stall that occurs in traffic can create a strong risk of a crash both for the Chevy Volt and for other vehicles. The announcement says the stalled Volt “along with its operator and occupants becomes a stationary target” in the middle of the road or highway.
The NHTSA notes that GM has previously noticed and issued bulletins regarding this problem. This includes technical service bulletin 18-NA-261, which says the loss of power comes from failure of the vehicle’s Battery Energy Control Module or BECM. The General says the available fix for the issue is to install a new module, then reprogram it with the correct data.
GM has not issued a recall notice for the problem at this time. The NHTSA will carry out its preliminary investigation to figure out how serious the problem is and attempt to determine how common it is among the potentially affected 73,000 Chevy Volt units.
A year ago in November 2022 GM was targeted with a class action lawsuit related to this exact issue. Jason Miller, the plaintiff, alleges GM knew about the problem as early as 2018 but has not provided warnings, replacement of the defective part, or compensation. The failure of the BECM is said by the lawsuit to originate with faulty internal soldering in the module.