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GM recalling certain eAssist models; up to 42,904 vehicles potentially affected by GCM issue

6 May 2013

General Motors (GM) is recalling certain model year 2012 and 2013 Buick LaCrosse and Regal, and model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco vehicles equipped with the eAssist light electrification system. (Earlier post.) Some of these vehicles have a condition in which the Generator Control Module (GCM) may not function properly. This could cause a gradual loss of battery charge and the illumination of the malfunction indicator light, GM said in its notice to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

If these warnings are ignored, eventually the engine may stall and/or the vehicle may not start. In addition, there may be a burning or melting odor, smoke, and possibly a fire in the trunk. Potentially up to 42,904 MY 2012 and MY2013 vehicles may be affected.

Starting with the arrival of 2013 models, eAssist is standard on the Regal with the discontinuation of the 2.4L base model. For the 2012 model year, eAssist became standard for the larger Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan. The system is also applied in the Malibu Eco. (Earlier post.)

The latest version of the eAssist system, as applied in the new Malibu, consists of:

  • A 32-cell, 115V, 0.5-kW Li-ion battery pack (15 kW peak power) using cylindrical power-optimized cells from Hitachi. The power electronics and the pack are packaged in the “eAssist power pack” which includes the batteries (2 parallel 16-cell modules) and the power electronics, both of which are air-cooled.

  • An electric motor-generator that provides 15 kW of maximum generating power @ 1570-3180 rpm; 110 lb-ft (150 N·m) maximum electric motor torque (cranking); 79 lb-ft (107 N·m) maximum electric motor torque @ 1,000 rpm (electric assist); and 15 hp (11.2 kW) @ 1,000-2,200 rpm maximum electric motor power (electric assist). The motor generator is liquid-cooled.

The eAssist system is matched to a 2.4-liter gasoline engine. The system provides an electrical boost to aid the engine at low speeds and on inclines where fuel efficiency can suffer most.

Background. In May/June 2012, GM Product Engineering identified an increase in warranty cases regarding circuit board shorting in the GCM. GM engineers worked with the supplier to understand the root cause of the issue. A conditioning screening process was added to the manufacturing process at the supplier on a sample basis.

A technical assessment concluded there could exist an interlayer shorting between the conductive layers of a circuit board within the GCM. It further found that in the rare event that a short occurred in the metal-encased GCM, the short would not cause a fire outside the GCM and it would only cause odor, smoke, and/or soot.

The subsequent timeline on the issue was:

  • 10 August 2012. GM Product Investigations was notified of an increase in warranty cases regarding this issue and an investigation was initiated

  • 5 October 2012. GM decided to conduct a Service Update of unsold vehicles to screen them to determine if the GCM needed replacement.

  • 24 October 2012. GM was informed of a vehicle that experienced a fire in the trunk while undergoing the service update screening procedure at a dealership. The product investigation was re-opened.

  • 15 November 2012. GM expanded the service update population. A stop build I ship order was implemented and all vehicles at the assembly plant were screened prior to shipping.

  • 25 March 2013. GM was informed about a fire in a vehicle that previously had the service update performed. The investigation of known field cases was expanded and all potential TREAD records were reviewed.

  • 1 April 2013. NHTSA contacted GM regarding TREAD “Flammability” reports involving the subject vehicles.

  • 25 April 2013. GM and NHTSA had a conference call to discuss the status of this issue.

  • 29 April 2013. GM Executive Field Action Decision Committee decided to conduct a safety recall.

Dealers will perform the screening process and if necessary, replace the GCM. GM will provide the dealer bulletin and owner letter mailing dates when available. All involved vehicles are covered under the new vehicle warranty.

May 6, 2013 in Fuel Efficiency, Hybrids, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

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http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/07/gm-eassist-hybrid-bet-doesnt-pay-off.html

Hybrids do not effectively distribute oil http://gas2.org/2009/05/27/general-motors-first-hybrid-from-1969/

I can't figure out what you are trying to say with your second link.  One Stirling-powered series hybrid demo does not a technology program make; Stirlings have flopped in the marketplace due to cost for decades.

@EP, the second link could mean that:

GM is advanced

or GM knew in 1969 that high mpg hybrids(Sterling or not) could be built[logic & inverter controls, charging, ..] http://green.autoblog.com/2009/05/27/blast-from-1969-gm-ad-for-stirling-engine-hybrid-the-stir-lec/

or GM could fail to build high mpg hybrid vehicles for decades and decades..

Only time would tell.

What did YOU mean by the second link?

There have been lots of technology demos over the years; both GM and Chrysler put gas-turbine cars on the road at various points.  None of them would have been commercial successes.  That's what you expect of technology demos.

@EP, I expected the world's largest automaker to LEAD personal transportation, not study and retard it's progress.

Then existing electric metro lines would have interlinked yielding rapid, cheap, Eurail-like transportation.

GM c/should have developed high mileage vehicles(not decades of <20mpg)/hybrids with US workers.

The 5th generation EV1 should have Tesla-like performance at a fraction the price.

Whether it was "planned obsolescence", crushed electric metro trolleys, crushed EVs, "addicted to oil" SUVs, bankruptcy, scores of stolen bailout $billions - America pays for GM malfeasance daily.

Kelly,

BMW was testing electric cars around the same time (they were demoed at the Munich Olympics). Citroen was working on ethanol fuel cells. In fact, most automakers and technical universities were working on gasoline alternatives.

I'm not convinced that blaming GM is the correct answer. What about all the companies that did not release an EV1? Should they be applauded for giving-up earlier?

GM/Bush crushed EVs and CARB laws, while giving 'Hummer' size SUVs five figure tax credits. Smaller automakers, wanting to import to the US, followed suit.

Of course GM was dead bankrupt wrong.

Toyota set the high mpg/'customer first' exception and their 5 million high mpg hybrid sales are on the way to ten million units while --
"General Motors (GM) is recalling ..with the eAssist light electrification system."

It wasn't just GM taking advantage of the guzzler tax credit, it was the entire industry (although the Hummer was the poster child for the phenomenon).  What you're missing there is that the quarterly profits of individual oil majors eventually exceeded GM's market capitalization; it wasn't GM's management whose interests were being served best, it was XOM's.

Toyota has had a few recalls since 2010 with numbers in the hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

GM has made some very major mis-steps out of spite, but it's closer to the root of all stupid than the root of all evil.

There may be more truth in what Kelly has posted above than the majority of posters are prepared or currently ready to accept?

Convictions may start to change when Toyota has sold 10,000,00+ electrified vehicles and other manufacturers board the evolution train?

That may happen by 2020 or shortly thereafter?

correction: 10,000,00+ should be 10,000,000+

Toyota sold over a million Prii a year and this will be the first full year Prius went from 1 to a family of 4 hybrid vehicles.

Already being the best selling car in Japan and California, expect 10 million Toyota hybrids sold before 2018 - barring tsunamis and nuclear radiation.

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