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Car Troubles: Last year, and more frequently into 2022, my 2012 Volt gave me "Propulsion Power Is Reduced" warning messages and "stalled" out as it switched from battery to gas (i.e. the gas engine never started when the battery ran out while driving). I had it towed to a Chevy dealership who diagnosed the problem as an old 12V battery which they replaced. They charged the car for me but only a few weeks later when I tried to start the car with a nearly empty the car would not start in any mode (battery or ICE; jump-starts didn't work either). The car also wouldn't charge on my 120V at-home charger. I had the car towed again to the same Chevy dealership who now told me, after more in-depth diagnosis, that a cell in section 3 was faulty and the entire battery would need to be replaced for a cost of: $25,000 ($23k for a new battery and ~$2k for the labor; 2 year unlimited mile warranty; half the money up front). The price shock drove me to search for alternatives and I found Greentec Auto (I called a couple local places specializing in EVs, but none could replace the Volt battery).

Ordering from Greentec Auto: I contacted Greentec Auto in early March 2022 via their website question form. After no response for a couple days, I called their number on the website and talked with Brad and Heidi who answered my questions knowledgably. He told me turnaround time was 4 to 6 weeks, they’ll need the car about 2 weeks and the car would have to be delivered to a Greentec Auto servicing center (the closest one to me was in Houston, 200 miles away). However, they could organize shipping my vehicle (one-way) for $225. Brad said they currently did not have any batteries with newer cells (i.e. from 2013 to 2015 models, accompanied by a 36 month warranty, $10,000 versus $7,500) although I expressed interest in them. I would pay a $500 down payment now and the rest upon receiving completion. The vehicle would only be shipped to Houston once the battery was built. The total cost would be $8,843.75 ($7.5k battery + $500 installation + $225 shipping + $618.75 (8.5%) Houston sales tax). As the price was almost a third of what the dealership offered, I went ahead with the order and paid my down payment on 15 Mar 2022.

Servicing the Vehicle: Three weeks after I placed my order, in early April, Brad called me and told me a newer battery was available if I wanted it (i.e. newer battery chemistry and double the warranty). I said that I would and my invoice was changed to $11,550 to account for $2.5k increase in battery price and a couple hundred more in taxes. Now that the battery was ready, my car was scheduled and shipped the following week (mid-April) from where it had stayed for a month at the Chevy dealership. Once the car arrived in Houston the battery change took a day, with the technician keeping the car a couple extra days for “reprogramming” and to test performance (i.e. drain the battery a couple times). I picked up my car on 21 April. Altogether, just over 5 weeks from when I ordered.

Volt Resurrected: Since the repairs, I have driven the Volt nearly daily for the past month and recorded the performance after each drive. But, since I work from home, I rarely drain the battery every day. The total usable battery started at 7.6kWh on the day I picked it up and has stayed near that value over the past month. I’ve driven the battery to exhaustion 11 times in the last 30 days and the battery depletes between 7.6kWh and 8.2kWh (not steadily increasing; one day it’s 8.2 the next it’s 7.8), but never more – usually about 30 miles. My average miles per kWh has been 3.5, although that’s in 100+ degree F weather in mid Texas. I was hoping that the battery would “re-learn” to use 10 kWh, but after a month I’ve accepted that it will probably never use more than 8.0 kWh on average.

Overall: Greentec Auto provided a good customer experience and a solution which was less than half the cost of what the Chevy dealership was offering. Greetec Auto estimated their timeline well and made the process smooth by arranging shipping for me. I’m satisfied with the result, as I have my old car back with a 3 year warranty on the battery – I just wish the refurbished capacity of the newer battery cells allowed using closer to the 10kWh which I had on my previous battery.
 

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Thanks for the feedback!
 

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Glad it worked out, but man these prices are crazy. We'll never have widespread EV adoption if this is how battery issues will keep being handled. I also don't get how prices were ~$10k for a pack a year ago (people on this forum did it) and now it's over double. Even Greentec was like $6k a year ago. For $25k you can buy a used 2017-18 Volt (which is also crazy, as some people bought them new for that price not too long ago).

Have you reached out to Greentec on only getting 8kWh out of the pack? I'd think it'd be worth asking, considering how much you spent.
 

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Glad it worked out, but man these prices are crazy. We'll never have widespread EV adoption if this is how battery issues will keep being handled. I also don't get how prices were ~$10k for a pack a year ago (people on this forum did it) and now it's over double. Even Greentec was like $6k a year ago. For $25k you can buy a used 2017-18 Volt (which is also crazy, as some people bought them new for that price not too long ago).
Limited supply on a discontinued low volume car is certainly part of the answer.
 

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My father had the V6 engine in his 2011 GMC Acadia replaced for $11k Canadian. Would have scrapped the car but he'd just finished setting it up to pull behind the motorhome.

Point is that major power train components are expensive, and sometimes more than the resale value on the vehicle (which would usually indicate scrapping the vehicle).
 

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My father had the V6 engine in his 2011 GMC Acadia replaced for $11k Canadian. Would have scrapped the car but he'd just finished setting it up to pull behind the motorhome.

Point is that major power train components are expensive, and sometimes more than the resale value on the vehicle (which would usually indicate scrapping the vehicle).
But if the vehicle is in otherwise good shape and replacing the vehicle is much more expensive than repairing it, I lean toward repair regardless of the resale value.
 

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But if the vehicle is in otherwise good shape and replacing the vehicle is much more expensive than repairing it, I lean toward repair regardless of the resale value.
I lean that way myself as well, though before the Volts my vehicle replacement costs were usually in the $5,000 ballpark.

The point was that major power train components (engine, drive battery) are comparably pricey, even between GM's V6 they sold tens of millions of and (as you rightly point out) a discontinued low volume car.
 

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The point was that major power train components (engine, drive battery) are comparably pricey, even between GM's V6 they sold tens of millions of and (as you rightly point out) a discontinued low volume car.
My point is that this is/should be equivalent to a moderate engine or transmission repair... a few thousand dollars at most. There should be a way to analyze the pack and go in and replace the handful of iffy cells. Right now we're facing the ICE cost equivalent of replacing the whole engine and/or transmission when it just needed new pistons or clutches or whatever. We should not need complete replacement of an assembly that still has significant life in it (once you replace a few cells), it's just the packs aren't designed this way (yet, they need to be in the future)
 

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My point is that this is/should be equivalent to a moderate engine or transmission repair... a few thousand dollars at most.
I'm not sure I follow why there's a "should" price like that. There's a price you're willing to pay, and there's a price someone else wants for a thing that they have. If there's agreement, hooray! If there isn't, you get to do without the thing.

There should be a way to analyze the pack and go in and replace the handful of iffy cells.
There is. Where do you think Greentec is getting their batteries from? They get a couple of duff batteries, match up cells as best they can by testing, reassemble the thing, mark down the test results from the leftover cells, and recycle the ones that are too bad to use.

We should not need complete replacement of an assembly that still has significant life in it (once you replace a few cells), it's just the packs aren't designed this way (yet, they need to be in the future)
And they will be. Ultium's out there, coming soon to an Equinox, Silverado, Lyric or Hummer near you, with some number modules that can be swapped out in any certified shop, so you only have to replace 5-10% of your battery instead of all of it. And since the same module system is used across GM's entire line of EVs there will be MANY MANY more spares, and they'll be around for longer.
 

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There should be a way to analyze the pack and go in and replace the handful of iffy cells.
Your options:
  1. The entire battery pack can be replaced. The pack has three Sections.
  2. An individual Section within a pack can be replaced. The Sections are made up of Modules.
  3. Modules within a Section can be replaced. The Modules contain many individual Cells (pouches).
  4. The individual cells are welded together, so no way to remove a cell without destroying it and the rest of the Module.

Go to about 2:54 in this video where he starts getting into destroing a Module to get to individual Cells.
 
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Your options:
  1. The entire battery pack can be replaced. The pack has three Sections.
  2. An individual Section within a pack can be replaced. The Sections are made up of Modules.
  3. Modules within a Section can be replaced. The Modules contain many individual Cells (pouches).
  4. The individual cells are welded together, so no way to remove a cell without destroying it and the rest of the Module
I know all this... it's bad design, that's my entire point. Especially #4. ICE cars would never have taken off if a partial engine failure (head gasket leak, etc) always required replacement of the entire engine at 50-100% of the cost of a new car. You can design for better reparability and that is what needs to happen. Supposedly Ultium will be better for this but we'll see.


I'm not sure I follow why there's a "should" price like that. There's a price you're willing to pay, and there's a price someone else wants for a thing that they have. If there's agreement, hooray! If there isn't, you get to do without the thing.
I say "should" because a system properly designed for reparability should have an overhaul that only cost that much. Current systems were not designed for it, thus the unreasonably high costs (labor and having to replace tons of perfectly fine cells along with the handful of bad ones)

There is. Where do you think Greentec is getting their batteries from? They get a couple of duff batteries, match up cells as best they can by testing, reassemble the thing, mark down the test results from the leftover cells, and recycle the ones that are too bad to use.
They don't take your existing pack and just replace a few cells... which would be much cheaper if it was something that could be quickly done (i.e. if it was designed for reparability). Greentec (while great that they exist) is like saying "well, your cylinder head is warped, we need to buy several similar engines and construct a new one, then do an engine swap on your car", instead of designing things so that the logical repair of replacing just the cylinder head on your car is possible.

And they will be. Ultium's out there, coming soon to an Equinox, Silverado, Lyric or Hummer near you, with some number modules that can be swapped out in any certified shop, so you only have to replace 5-10% of your battery instead of all of it. And since the same module system is used across GM's entire line of EVs there will be MANY MANY more spares, and they'll be around for longer.
Exactly my point, yes, I hope Ultium is as good as they say. I'm just saying professionally designed cars should have thought about life-cycle from the beginning and made designs with good reparability (like they do for most other parts of cars) from day one. Can't solely blame GM, no one else did this either, sucks to be the early adopters I guess. But I still blame them all for not properly designing things from the beginning, it will hurt EV adoption until better solutions are common.
 

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I say "should" because a system properly designed for reparability should have an overhaul that only cost that much. Current systems were not designed for it, thus the unreasonably high costs (labor and having to replace tons of perfectly fine cells along with the handful of bad ones)
But.... This isn't a current system. This is a system designed almost 15 years ago. In an environment where there was expectation that there WOULD BE smaller parts available. There's three modules in a Volt battery. They're all different, but when these cars were being made, or shortly thereafter, you COULD get individual modules and we have documentation from the time that they cost about $3500.

What's happened since is that this platform has been dead-ended. We're not talking about replacing cylinder liners and having to pay for a whole engine to do it, we're talking about something on the order of "the sealed high-pressure steam generator has failed for your Doble Detroit Mk II." There are no new replacements, there's ONE GUY willing to work on these in the whole country and he's only ships out complete and resealed high-pressure steam generators.

You're perfectly welcome to fix your battery yourself. Maybe you'd save $5000 doing so.
 

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I know all this... it's bad design, that's my entire point. Especially #4. ICE cars would never have taken off if a partial engine failure (head gasket leak, etc) always required replacement of the entire engine at 50-100% of the cost of a new car. You can design for better reparability and that is what needs to happen. Supposedly Ultium will be better for this but we'll see.
Perhaps, but it's not much different elsewhere. For example, you can't just replace a single cell in a Tesla battery module either.

Exactly my point, yes, I hope Ultium is as good as they say. I'm just saying professionally designed cars should have thought about life-cycle from the beginning and made designs with good reparability (like they do for most other parts of cars) from day one. Can't solely blame GM, no one else did this either, sucks to be the early adopters I guess. But I still blame them all for not properly designing things from the beginning, it will hurt EV adoption until better solutions are common.
Ultium is no different than the Volt batteries in regard to replacing individual cells. My guess is assembling modules of cells into a "brick" is based on raw material and assembly cost, bulk and weight. Assembling cells into a group of bricks (modules) is probably less expensive and more compact than making every cell a replaceable unit like a AA battery. Just my guess.

I agree having the ability to slide in just one new cell to replace a defective one would be nice, and maybe someday that will be the case.
 
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I think the question is why are there are no GM replacement battery packs and only 3rd party remanufactured cells. Did GM completely walk away from the Volt - even from a service standpoint? Were they too busy putting out Bolt fires? Looking back on earlier threads there were a lot of optimistic posts about a $3500 battery pack replacement, including a few people that had packs replaced under warranty for that amount.

What happened? Why are there no $3500 battery packs available today? Why are people quoting $8000 - $13,000+ for 3rd party remanufactured units that only guarantee 80% of original capacity? What impact does this have on everyone's residual / resale value? Why do we, Gen1 Volt owners, continue to pay the price for GM's inability to properly market a great vehicle?

Every part does fail over time - it is important for an OEM to keep service parts available, so people can drive their cars 10, 15, 20+ years. Is that really an option with a Gen1 or Gen2 Volt? What about Bolt or the new Hummer EV, Silverado EV, Equinox EV, Cadillac Lyric?

If Volt replacement packs were originally $3500 and now cost $12,000 - does that mean a 60kWh Bolt replacement battery pack (originally thought to be $15,000) will cost $50,000 in 3-4 years when GM walks away from it? How much will the current gen Ultium packs cost when GM stops supporting those? I find it amusing to read Hummer EV forums already quoting $20-$30k max for the full 210kWh battery pack - let's check back in 10 years and see how that works out 🤣
 

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I think the question is why are there are no GM replacement battery packs and only 3rd party remanufactured cells. Did GM completely walk away from the Volt - even from a service standpoint?
GM created an unknown amount of battery inventory. My guess is they created enough to handle any expected warranty replacements, plus some. Now that we are 11 years down the road on my 2011, I suspect that inventory has shrunk dramatically. Hence, a price increase that affects those outside the warranty but not those still covered by the warranty. So what we have is a low volume car that's discontinued. Some replacement parts (particularly those that are Volt-specific) will be harder to come by as time goes on.

So no, they did not completely walk away, but nor are they manufacturing the car or it batteries. But let's say they did startup a battery line to produce X number of batteries. The cost of these making these antiques in a limited run would be more than you'd pay.

How much will the current gen Ultium packs cost when GM stops supporting those? I find it amusing to read Hummer EV forums already quoting $20-$30k max for the full 210kWh battery pack - let's check back in 10 years and see how that works out 🤣
I think you overlooked an important difference: volume and designing a plaform built to allow replacement modules using different chemistry.

The Ultium battery modules will be used in a wide range of GM brands. GMC, Chevy, Cadillac, Buick. LOTS of vehicles = lots of battery modules. Car volume is key if your concern is replacement part availability. Few complain about not finding parts for a Silverado or F-150 for example. So, a much greater volume of cars and batteries than the Gen 1 Volt, or Gen 2 Volt. The other issue is future proofing. What happens if a new chemistry comes along? The Ultium platform allows for this. The Volt, not so much.

Regarding the Bolt, I suspect it may run into some issues like the Volt in terms of replacement parts, again, low volume car. But my 5 year old Bolt just got a new battery warranted for 8 years. So I'm likely good for a 15 year Bolt experience before I might start worrying.

Most people don't keep a car 20+ years, but I have. Back then, I was spending $3k+ a year in maintenance and parts were getting very hard to find, things were rusting through, etc. The next oldest of mine was 17 years, same kind of expense and issues. So 15 years is good enough for me before parting ways, YMMV
 
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Regarding the Bolt, I suspect it may run into some issues like the Volt in terms of replacement parts, again, low volume car. But my 5 year old Bolt just got a new battery warranted for 8 years. So I'm likely good for a 15 year Bolt experience before I might start worrying.
And that's just the warranty. The car itself may work for 10 years beyond that, with a rigorous balancing program and a little cell luck.
 

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Exactly my point, yes, I hope Ultium is as good as they say. I'm just saying professionally designed cars should have thought about life-cycle from the beginning and made designs with good reparability (like they do for most other parts of cars) from day one. Can't solely blame GM, no one else did this either, sucks to be the early adopters I guess. But I still blame them all for not properly designing things from the beginning, it will hurt EV adoption until better solutions are common.
For those considering a Tesla, they are moving to a non-servicable battery with their "structural" pack. Therefore any failure would result in the replacement of the entire pack, which doesn't work well for the owner. Hell, that's their existing solution now; just replace the entire pack at a high cost. This is the wrong approach, and it should be a warning to the buyer.

I have bought a lot of expensive durable equipment, with a long expected service life for the company. We expect the company supplying the equipment to provide parts and service at a reasonable cost over the long lifespan. Likewise the expected lifespan of a car is more than 10 years, and I agree it's not unreasonble to expect an auto manufacturer with a long history & track record to do the same. It's a shame GM didn't retain the capability to build new replacement battery sections over time as needed. But that's what they did, and it results in a negative experience.

Hopefully Ultium will fix that; they are at least heading in the right direction.
 

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In the Honda Insight G1 world, their original NMH batteries, they've been able to replace individual cells for years, but juggling them to get a similar charge profile across a "stick" of a few is bad enough. Trying to get matches across an entire pack takes lots of skill and luck. Owners are now moving to using lithium cells and building / altering the car's systems to balance and work with them. With great success, I might add.

They have hobbyists in that group that have done the same with Honda Insights (G2), Honda Civic Hybrids, and CR-Zs.

But one of the big differences is that those battery systems are simple to access and work with. No ties to the car's heating or cooling loops. Active cooling/heating with liquids really cuts down on the number of at-home mechanics that can experiment. I could never do it, and I used to be a pretty good wrencher.

If I had a G1, old and arthritic me could replace the battery pack and go from MNH to Lithium in one afternoon, without a lift, using nothing more than a ratchet set and a couple screwdriver. And do it for about $1,500. And have a better car for it. And pull down 70mpg at 70mph. The biggest problems I would have... Not having the strength to lift the old battery out of the trunk and the fact that getting into and out of a car that low lights up my arthritis!

BEVs (and most hybrids) aren't designed with this sort of plasticity. I'm fairly certain car makers don't want us farting around with what they build, and I think mindset of modifying vehicles is old-fashion and growing more and more impossible with each passing year, especially when it comes to electric vehicles. I'm pretty sure the Honda engineers never figured people would be taking their cars 20 years later and swapping out the batteries with chemistries that weren't even thought of back then, but they sure did make it easier to do!
 

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Hopefully Ultium will fix that; they are at least heading in the right direction.
LESSONS LEARNED
GM learned from the EV1 and incorporated improvements into the Volt. One of the key improvements was the built-in supercharger we all appreciate.
GM learned from the Volt how battery architecture can be improved and incorporated that into the Ultium platform.
This iterative process is pretty common in many industries and will continue with EV's as well.

VOLT BATTERY ARCHITECTURE
The main complaint for the Volt battery architecture seems to be "why can we just take out one cell and slip in a new one, why do we need to replace a brick (a.k.a., a module) of them?" As I surmise above, its a balance of raw material cost, manufacturing cost, plus the bulk of finished assembly. Could it be done, yes. The Honda Insight is an example. So is my 60 year old Frigidaire stove. But as Arbus points out things are more complex today, including stoves! In some ways better, other ways worse.

Looking at a Tesla module, there's no way you are going to non-destructively pry one cell out and replace it. GM is not "walking away" from the Volt because individual cells can't be replaced. It's a manufacturing cost compromise. They are not alone. As pointed out by Off Oil, some are going in the opposite direction: nothing is replaceable in the battery pack, the entire pack will need to be replaced instead. This will reduce manufacturing cost (and selling price to some extent or just increase profit), but down the road owner costs could be a problem.

REPLACEMENT PARTS INVENTORY
The second complaint is why isn't there a mountain of Volt replacement batteries sitting in GM warehouses? Of course, the same could be asked about many car parts. The answer is cost. GM and every car manufacturer has to predict expected replacement quantity. The Volt battery is a very expensive piece of kit. They aren't going to make as many replacements as car's sold. They could, but that cost would be tremendous. So it's a bit of a balancing game. Maybe they guessed too low, I don't know.

But GM's strategy to address this is to
1) use the same modules across a wide range of trucks, SUV's and CUV's and across all brands. Lot's and lots, and lots of interchangeable modules. And
2) engineer for something new, allow for new chemistry we may not even know about today. As long as the modules fits, it can be used.
 

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Overall: Greentec Auto provided a good customer experience and a solution which was less than half the cost of what the Chevy dealership was offering. Greetec Auto estimated their timeline well and made the process smooth by arranging shipping for me. I’m satisfied with the result, as I have my old car back with a 3 year warranty on the battery – I just wish the refurbished capacity of the newer battery cells allowed using closer to the 10kWh which I had on my previous battery.
I had an interesting experience getting a battery from GeenTec. In November after checking at the dealer to find the GM price $25,000, I called Greentec and put my money down.

In January, they called to say they had my battery, I should bring the car down so they could replace it. I brought it down on wednesday, just as the Ice storm was coming to Texas.

The manager at the store in Houston had just started, so he needed help from the Dallas Manager. The Ice storm kept the Dallas man at home until the following Monday. When they unpacked the battery to put it in they found it had been damaged in transit by FedEx. So I had to drive back to my home Austin, with the old battery.

A month later, the Houston Manager called to say the new battery was in Houston. I drove back, left the car at the shop for a week, then drove back to pick it up.

I found the Houston Manager very helpful and customer focused. I am entirely satisfied.
 
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