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GM recalls Bolt EVs again because some batteries may pose fire risk

GM recalls Bolt EVs again because some batteries may pose fire risk


GM recalls Bolt EVs again because some batteries may pose fire risk

General Motors is recalling tens of thousands of Chevrolet all-electric Bolt hatchbacks for the second time in less than a year because of a potential fire risk.The company made the move on Friday after two Bolts caught fire without impact recently. GM is confirming that at least one of the Bolt fires was battery related and happened despite the owner getting the fix from the first recall.This time, GM said it would recall all 2017-19 model-year Bolts. In total, the recall involves 68,000 vehicles globally; of those, 50,925 are in the United States. The vehicles contain high voltage batteries produced at LG Chem’s Ochang, South Korea, facility. “As part of GM’s commitment to safety, experts from GM and LG have identified the simultaneous presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevrolet Bolt EVs,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement. “As part of this recall, GM will replace defective battery modules in the recall population. We will notify customers when replacement parts are ready.” ►Is balding stigma fading? A TikToker inspires bald men to try hairpieces because it ‘makes a difference in somebody’s self-confidence’►Costly cars: It’s harder to buy a vehicle for less than $10,000 as prices of new and used cars jumpWhat Bolt owners should Until GM can get parts to dealers and people can get their vehicles in for the fix, owners of the recalled cars should not park them in garages.Also, Flores said GM recommends they do the following:Return the vehicle to the 90% state of charge limitation using Hilltop Reserve mode (for 2017-2018 model years) or Target Charge Level mode (for 2019 model year), or visit a dealer to make that change.Charge the vehicle after each use and avoid depleting the battery below  70 miles of remaining range.  Park the vehicle outside immediately after charging and do not leave the vehicle charging overnight.Customers who have not received the advanced diagnostics software should visit their dealer to get the update.  After obtaining the software, limit the state of charge to 90% and follow the advice above.The starting price for a 2021 base Chevrolet Bolt EV is $36,500. Flores said GM is not providing an estimate at this time for how much this recall and the first one will cost the automaker. Flores did say that since the first recall repair, including the advanced software diagnostics, the cost to GM “was not material” but GM did not disclose a cost for it.While this Bolt recall is a recall, it’s hardly GM’s biggest. In 2014, GM recalled more than 2.7 million cars due to faulty ignition switches that could cause the engines to stall in small GM vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. Altogether that scandal left at least 124 people dead and 275 injured. In 2017, GM agreed to pay $120 million to settle claims from dozens of states related to the defective switches.In November, GM issued the first recall on the 2017-19 model year Bolts because the vehicles potentially posed a fire risk then.GM said it found five vehicles in which the batteries caught fire without any impact, injuring two people with smoke inhalation. In GM’s initial investigation, it found that the five affected Bolts all had the high voltage batteries made by LG Chem’s Ochang, South Korea, facility.Battery firesAnother commonality among the five vehicles was they were at full charge or right below that when they caught fire.At the time, the automaker warned owners of those vehicles that until dealers can make a software fix, the owners should reset their battery to a maximum of 90% charge to lessen the risk of the car catching fire. If they cannot do that, GM advises to not park the car in a garage or carport.By April, GM engineers said they’d figured out how to fix the battery problem. They developed diagnostic software to look for anomalies in the batteries. If problems are found, the company will replace faulty parts of the battery. The software was  available to the Bolt owners by the end of May.But since that first recall, there have been two more Bolt fires. Earlier this month, GM again warned owners of 2017-19 Bolt EVs to not park the vehicles in the garage.“One of the fires, we can confirm was a battery fire,” Flores said. “It was in Vermont  and we confirmed that the fire was battery related and that customer did have the recall software performed and did everything he was supposed to do.”The 2019 Bolt that caught fire belonged to Vermont State Rep. Tim Briglin, the Associated Press reported. He drove it to work and back home on June 30, depleting the battery to around 10% of its range. He plugged it into a 240-volt outdoor charger that evening and left the Bolt in his driveway.Around 6:30 a.m. the next day, Briglin saw smoke coming from the rear of the car and called the fire department. Only some nearby plants were damaged. Briglin told AP he had the recall repairs done on June 9. He charged his Bolt to 100% of its battery capacity the morning of the fire.Briglin told AP that GM would find him a 2021 or 2022 model to replace his, which was a total loss. Flores could not confirm how Briglin got his replacement Bolt.The other EV that caught fire was in New Jersey. GM has been unable to confirm the cause because the owner’s insurance company was having the wrecked, charred vehicle transported on a flatbed truck and the truck was stolen. That Bolt has not been found. The existing software fix GM performed on the Bolts during the first recall has been largely successful, Flores said. But, he added, “It appears to not have been fully effective to eliminate fire risk,” since we had one more fire related to the battery.Any Bolt owners with additional questions or concerns should go to They can also call the Chevrolet EV Concierge 1-833-EVCHEVY, which is available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-12 a.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday from noon-9 p.m. EDT. Or call their dealer.Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan.

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