GM recalling nearly 69,000 Bolt EVs for fire risks

Recalls & Consumer Alerts

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) — General Motors Co. said on Friday it was recalling 68,677 electric cars worldwide that pose a fire risk after five reported fires and two minor injuries.

The recall is for 2017-2019 model-year Chevrolet Bolt EVs with high voltage batteries produced at LG Chem Ltd’s Ochang, Korea facility.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last month opened a preliminary investigation into the Bolt EVs after reports of three Bolts catching fire under the rear seat while parked and unattended.

GM said the vehicles pose a fire risk when charged to full, or nearly full capacity. GM said it has developed software that will limit vehicle charging to 90% of full capacity to mitigate the risk while GM works to determine the appropriate final repair.

NHTSA said in a consumer alert on Friday that Bolt owners “should park their cars outside and away from homes until their vehicles have been repaired, due to a new recall for the risk of fire.”

The recall includes 50,932 U.S. Bolt vehicles.

Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, told reporters on a conference call that GM did not believe the problem was in all the recalled cars but felt it “prudent” to limit the state of charge in all cars as a precaution.

“We’re working together around the clock to deploy a final remedy as soon as possible after the first of the year,” Ortega said.

Smoke inhalation injuries were reported in a March 2019 incident in Belmont, Massachusetts. A Bolt caught fire in the driveway and the owner said strong fumes permeated the home during a three-hour fire requiring professional cleaning. The owners also reported they suffered headaches from contact with the smoke.

Dealerships will update the vehicle’s battery software beginning next week.

Other electric vehicles have faced fire risk recalls.

Last month, Hyundai Motor Co issued a recall for about 75,000 Kona EVs worldwide because of a possible short circuit due to what may be faulty manufacturing of its high-voltage battery cells. 

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