How GM Fixed The Chevy Blazer EV’s Software Issues


It’s an outcome no company wants for any product, let alone one with months of hype behind it: something new goes on sale, immediately suffers from glitches that play out in the media and has to be parked for months until a fix is found and deployed. 

That’s exactly what happened nearly three months ago with the Chevrolet Blazer EV, one of General Motors’ most anticipated new electric models. Even worse for GM, the stop-sale order on the Blazer EV—which happened after both InsideEVs and Edmunds reported on debilitating problems during testing—raised more questions about the automaker’s planned software-driven, electric revolution.

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GM’s EV and software woes kick off a make-or-break 2024

General Motors has committed to going all-electric, but that goal has been deterred by delays and quality problems with its new Ultium platform EVs. But 2024 may be a kind of do-over year, with GM committing to building 200,000 to 300,000 EVs this year. It’s in a kind of urgent rush to execute on the future it wants. 

But today, GM says a fix is in with the Blazer EV. And to hear Baris Cetinok tell it, it took some doing to get there.

“Some days, the fleet was putting 16,000 miles a day across the country, testing driving conditions, charging conditions and everything else under the sun,” Cetinok, GM’s vice president of product, software and services, told InsideEVs in an interview.

“As of this morning, we reached the point where we have the software all tested, validated, packaged, ready to be flashed and installed into our vehicles in our dealerships,” he said. 

Whether these problems are truly starting to be in GM’s rearview mirror will likely be one of the defining stories of the EV market in 2024. But it’s why people like Cetinok are on board.

A longtime veteran of the tech space with tours at Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and cryptocurrency brokerage firm FalconX, Cetinok is one of several high-profile outside tech-savvy hires GM has brought on in recent months to help reverse its challenges in the battery and software world. (According to InsideEVs’ own accounting of GM’s woes with the electric Ultium platform, the automaker has been historically resistant to importing outside expertise, favoring in-house solutions instead; that now seems to be changing. It has also faced challenges with battery pack assembly as well, leading to additional EV delays.)

During a weeklong test of a Blazer EV in December, InsideEVs reporter Kevin Williams encountered a blinking and then blanking infotainment screen, which made operating some of the EV’s key functions especially difficult. But the biggest headache came when the car was essentially “bricked” when he tried to fast-charge at an Electrify America DC fast charger in rural Virginia. It ended up having to be towed home.

Cetinok confirmed that GM’s testing team encountered the same problems, as did some Blazer EV owners.

Blazer EV Trip 3

“We discovered, like you discovered and some of our customers [did], that there were intermittent issues with the in-vehicle screens, or some of them were kind of going dark,” he said. Additionally, “in rare instances, there were issues where [we] attempted to DC fast-charge at certain public stations. It was not all public stations, but it was certain public stations.” (A GM spokesperson declined to say which stations presented problems during charging.)

But Cetinok stressed that while the prevalence of these issues was low—”rare, but very disruptive,” he said—the automaker decided to “do the right thing” by issuing a stop-sale until they were confident a fix was in place. That meant driving 40 Blazer EVs across the country up to 400 miles per day, as well as more “virtualized” testing with software validation.

Cetinok said the glitches were software-related, not hardware-related, so no parts were replaced. He added that the issue wasn’t a single problem, but a “permutation of things coming together”; the screen and charging faults were also unrelated. 

These issues were specifically tied to the Blazer EV and not other Ultium cars, Cetinok added. He also said that they were not related to GM’s decision not to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its new electric cars. 

Software has been a persistent source of woe for automakers big and small. Modern EVs, with their demands for new features, automated driving and charging and battery management, necessitate convoluted software setups—something often outside the core competencies of an industry that spent a century making gasoline engines and transmissions.

That’s not to say the startup, EV-focused brands haven’t had their own initial quality issues; many of them operate by getting a minimum viable product on the road and fixing things with over-the-air software updates later. But GM likely knows that it doesn’t have that sort of luxury; its customers may not put up the kind of “first adopter” problems that can often plague newcomer brands. Hence, the rigorous degree of testing involved before the Blazer EV could get back on the road. 

Doing so will be key to GM’s near-term and long-term goals. Electric vehicle sales are growing, its top-selling Chevrolet Bolt has been discontinued, and it still aims to sell 200,000 to 300,000 EVs in 2024 while being “variable profit positive” on them by the second half of the year. In other words, Ultium-platform cars like the Blazer EV have to work. 

The proof will be in the pudding, however, especially with the Blazer EV being more enticing than ever due to recent price cuts. But Cetinok seemed confident things are moving in the right direction now. 

“We are very confident in the quality of the software,” he said. “I’m driving mine and I love it.” 

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