General Motors has issued a voluntary recall of more than 68,000 vehicles after several Chevy Bolt battery fires have been reported.
At Least Five Chevy Bolt Battery Fires
In all, 68,667 Chevy Bolts will be affected by the recall. The vehicles were manufactured between 2017 and 2019. General Motors is working with American auto regulators to identify the cause of the Chevy Bolt battery fires.
There have been at least five incidents in which Bolts with fully charged or almost fully charged batteries have caught fire. Three of these Chevy Bolt battery fires are being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while General Motors has identified two cases of injuries from smoke inhalation. The batteries are manufactured by LG Chem in Ochang, South Korea.
The NHTSA reports that 50,932 of the impacted vehicles are based in the United States. “The affected vehicles’ cell packs have the potential to smoke and ignite internally, which could spread to the rest of the vehicle and cause a structure fire if parked inside a garage or near a house,” said the agency in a statement. Chevy Bolt owners are urged to keep their vehicles parked outside.
Software Update to Limit Vehicle Charging
General Motors said it has developed software to limit vehicle charging to 90 percent of full capacity in order to prevent future Chevy Bolt battery fires. Chevrolet dealerships must beginning updating their customers’ vehicle battery software starting on November 17th.
“We believe this action will reduce the risk of a vehicle fire, while we continue working around the clock to identify the root cause, and we intend to deploy a final solution to restore as much battery capacity as possible after the first of the year,” said a Chevy spokesperson.
In the meantime, Chevrolet is advising Bolt owners to change their charge settings to enable either “Hilltop Reserve” (for 2017 and 2018 models) or “Target Charge Level” (for 2019 models) using their vehicles’ infotainment centers. Changing these settings will temporarily limit the vehicles’ state of charge to 90 percent.
GM Latest Manufacturer to Issue an Electric Car Recall
General Motors is the latest auto manufacturer to issue a voluntary recall in response to battery fires. In 2019, Audi recalled over 500 E-Tron SUVs, while China’s NIO recalled nearly 5,000 of its ES8 electric SUVs.
Electric vehicle fires have received increased scrutiny as more of them hit the road, with first responders being trained to handle electric vehicle battery fires since they cannot be extinguished using some traditional methods. Tesla’s electric vehicle fires have caught a significant amount of attention, while other automakers like Jaguar have experienced isolated incidents.
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