The company said in its alert that experts "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," announcing that it would recall all 2017-2022 Bolt EVs and all 2022 Bolt EUVs to address the fire risk.
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GM said it will replace the current batteries with new modules and Bolt owners will be notified when the parts are ready. In the meantime, the company advised those impacted to set their vehicles to a 90% state of charge limitation, charge their cars more frequently and avoid depleting their battery below 70 miles. The company is also urging owners to take their vehicles outside immediately after charging and to not leave Bolts charging indoors overnight.
The move comes roughly a month after U.S. auto safety regulators warned 50,000 Bolt owners to start parking their cars outside rather than in a garage over fire concerns. The impacted vehicles from the 2017-2019 model years were recalled at the time for the potential of an unattended fire in the high-voltage battery pack underneath the backseat’s bottom cushion.
The Associated Press reported that GM first issued a recall of Bolt batteries in November after receiving reports that five of the cars had caught fire, with two people suffering smoke inhalation and one house burning. The number of reported fires linked to Bolt batteries has now reached 10, a GM spokesperson told the AP.
The Bolt's global recall has also deepened consumer safety concerns about lithium-ion car batteries in general, which are used in virtually all electric vehicles and have impacted other car manufacturers – including electric vehicle giant Tesla.
President Biden, meanwhile, has been pushing for electric vehicles to make up 40 to 50% of auto sales by the end of the decade.