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GM Recalls 68,000 Chevy Volts due to possible fire hazard

After complaints of battery fires in Chevrolet Bolt EVs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working in collaboration with General Motors Co. (GM) to find the cause of the problem. In the meantime, GM has decided to recall 68,667 Chevy Bolt units manufactured between 2017 and 2019. The NHTSA and GM have confirmed 5 incidents where a Bolt’s battery caught fire when it was either fully charged or almost fully charged. Thankfully, only two of the five incidents reported injuries from smoke inhalation.

All five defective batteries had cells manufactured at an LG Chem plant in Korea. The Bolt battery fires aren’t an isolated incident either, as the NHTSA has open investigations on battery fires in Tesla EVs and the Hyundai Kona.

The NHTSA investigation accounts for more than 77,800 Bolt EVs from 2017-2020. However, GM has decided not to recall the 2020 Chevy Bolts as they use different battery cells.

During a media briefing on Friday, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt Jesse Ortega shed light on the recall, which will require dealerships to update battery software on each unit to prevent the battery from charging beyond 90% capacity.

According to Ortega, this is an alternative short-term solution as GM works “to identify the issue, and determine the appropriate final repair.” The software update will be made available starting November 17.

In addition, owners of 2017 and 2018 Bolts are recommended to change their settings to use “hilltop reserve”, while owners of 2019 Bolts should enable the “target charge-level” feature and set it to 90%.

“The safety of our products is the highest priority for the entire GM team,” said Ortega. The automaker also believes not all the EVs being recalled have the same issue, but that “it is prudent to limit the state of charge as a precaution as we continue our investigation.”

With how invested General Motors is in making headway in the EV industry, it is imperative that the automaker responds to this issue swiftly and effectively. Losing its market cap or the trust of its consumers at this point will certainly impact GM’s plans to manufacture a new all-electric pickup.


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