The effect of the sudden power was dramatic for Brad Berman. His Bolt stopped suddenly on a North Berkeley, Calif., road even though readouts indicated that it had dozens of miles of range available.
He said the failure came with little warning. Berman, 54, spoke with Consumer Reports on Friday. He first noted his incident on PluginCars.com.
“There was some kind of warning, a mild beep of some kind, that would indicate that you had a door ajar, but there wasn’t even enough time to figure that out on the dashboard before the steering wheel shuddered,” he said. “It was a dramatic and immediate halting of the car’s movement.”
Berman was on his way home from work as a journalist and video producer, and was less than a mile from his home when the Bolt stopped around 5 p.m. Aug. 8.
“From every indication, the car had juice,” he said. “The only thing is, when I would try to shift—in the middle of a busy road where people whip around very fast—into Drive or Reverse, there was a message saying that it couldn’t be done.
“I tried to reboot the car: power down, power back up, and try again. I did that two to three times, until I realized ‘I’m not moving.’ It’s basically like a panic situation, because you don’t know what’s happening.
“After about 2 minutes, I just put it into Neutral. I let it roll back to where I could basically parallel park. It stopped blocking someone’s driveway, but to move it any more would have placed it into a curve in the road,” Berman said. He gave up and walked home, where he waited 2 hours for a tow truck to pick up his car.
Berman said he remains impressed with the Bolt’s range capability and said he’s a little frustrated by the 13 days it took to get his car back, and what he considered a lack of information from GM about the situation. Still, he said he understands that “it’s premature, because we don’t know what the deal is. The dealer said that they had not experienced this event before.”
It’s rare, but not unheard of, for new electric cars to have issues around battery strength readouts. Nissan issued two service bulletins for its Leaf electric car, for the 2011 and 2012 model years. One bulletin instructed dealers on how to improve the accuracy of the battery capacity level gauge, and the other instructed them on how to help owners whose Leaf wouldn’t start under certain conditions.