General Motors is voluntarily recalling the 2017-2019 Chevy Bolt EV. The automaker is working with the National Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the issue. The government agency opened a probe into the occurrences in October. There have been five incidents of Bolt EV fires in total and no deaths. There have been two reports of smoke inhalation.
The recall involves 68,667 vehicles globally, with the overwhelming majority – 50,925 vehicles – being located in the United States. All five vehicles involved in the fiery incidents in the recall share two things in common: all contained cells produced by LG Chem at the same factory in South Korea and they were all either fully charged or very close to fully charged. A GM spokesperson could not confirm whether they were plugged in when the incidents began.
Speaking with the media today during a hastily-arranged press conference, Jesse Ortega, Executive Chief Engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, said that while they haven't nailed down the exact cause of the issue, owners and dealers both can take immediate action.
Chevy Bolt EV fires
For their part, dealers will be "re-flashing" the vehicle's battery management code to allow the vehicles to only charge to 90 percent capacity. Ortega said customers of 2017-2018 vehicles should use the "hilltop reserve" feature, which limits charging to 90 percent. 2019 Bolt EV owners who don't have the "hilltop reserve" feature will have to set the charge limit to 90 percent. All owners are asked to park outside of garages and carports until a final remedy is available.
It is unclear how many of the recalled vehicles are actually at risk of fire. In 2019, the company started using cells sourced from an LG Chem factory in Holland, Michigan. Those vehicles are unaffected as are the 2020 model year Bolt EVs.
The automaker has set up a webpage with information regarding the recall. It features a video demonstrating what action owners can take now, along with, among other things, a tool to look up your VIN number to see if your vehicle is affected.