GM: Don't Fully Charge Your Bolt

Automaker announces recall over risk of fires in certain batteries
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 13, 2020 3:35 PM CST
GM: Don't Fully Charge Your Bolt
A 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV is displayed at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

General Motors is recalling nearly 69,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric cars worldwide because the batteries have caught fire in five of them. The company says it doesn't know yet what's causing the fires, but engineers are working around-the-clock to figure it out. Two people have suffered smoke inhalation due to the blazes. Bolt Executive Chief Engineer Jesse Ortega says dealers will install software that limits charging to 90% of the battery's capacity until a permanent fix is developed. The recall covers Bolts from the 2017 through 2019 model years, the AP reports, including nearly 51,000 in the US. It comes one month after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it was investigating. The agency said in documents filed last month that the fires began under the rear seat while the cars were parked and unattended.

Engineers have traced the fires to Bolts with battery cells made at an LG Chem factory in Ochang, South Korea, from May 2016 to May 2019. The fires have happened when the batteries were close to being fully charged, Ortega said. "We have no confirmed incidents from vehicles with cells not produced at this factory or a lower state of charge," Ortega said. Some 2019 Bolts and all 2020 and 2021 versions have cells made at an LG Chem plant in Holland, Michigan, and are not included in the recall. GM hopes to have a permanent repair soon after the first of the year, Ortega said. Until the software updates can be done, GM is asking owners to manually change adjustable settings to keep the batteries from being charged fully. Owners who aren't able to do this should park their Bolts outdoors and contact a dealer, Ortega said.

(More Chevrolet stories.)

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