GM recalling Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to fire risks amid federal probe


The Chevrolet Bolt EV is displayed during the Los Angeles Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Josh Lefkowitz | Getty Images

General Motors is recalling tens of thousands of all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to risk of fire.

The Detroit automaker said Friday it is recalling 68,667 of the cars globally from the 2017 through 2019 model years, including nearly 51,000 in the U.S. The recall includes some vehicles being used by GM’s majority-owned autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise.

GM has confirmed five instances of fires that “could be related to the high voltage batteries” in the vehicles, according to Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in October opened an investigation into three reported fires involving Chevrolet Bolt EVs. The automaker is cooperating with the federal vehicle safety agency, Ortega said.

GM has a dedicated team of engineers and experts working to determine the cause of the fires, according to Ortega. They have so far found that common factors in the fires included vehicles were at or near full charge and had batteries produced between May 2016 and May 2019 by GM’s partner LG Chem in South Korea.

GM doesn’t expect a full solution for the problem until next year. In the meantime, GM is asking Bolt EV owners to schedule an appointment with a Chevrolet dealership beginning Tuesday. The dealer will reflash and update the car’s battery software to limit the maximum charge of the vehicle to 90%.

Until customers receive the software update, GM is asking owners to change their vehicle’s settings to lower its charging capacity. It released a video Friday on how to do so. If customers are “uncomfortable” with changing the settings, GM said they should avoid parking the vehicles in garages or carports until receiving the software update.

NHTSA’s probe covered 77,842 Bolt EVs from the 2017 through 2020 model years. GM said it is not recalling vehicles from the 2020 model-year because their batteries have a different formula than the earlier models with no reports of fires.



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