A total of 50,932 units of the Chevrolet Bolt EV from the 2017 to 2019 model years are being recalled in the United States due to defective battery packs that could cause fire.
The high-voltage batteries are located under the rear passenger seats and could catch fire even while the vehicles are parked, stopped, and not plugged in to charge, an announcement from General Motors (GM) said.
Both GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they are investigating complaints from owners of the affected vehicles, sharing five instances of fires related to the issue have been confirmed.
NHTSA’s report revealed that the 2020 Bolt EV should be included in the investigation, meaning the total number of recalled vehicles could climb to 77,842.
Chevrolet, however, said that “the 2020 Bolt EV uses a different battery-cell design than the vehicles affected by this recall.” The recalled units from 2017 to 2019 are equipped with 60.0-kWh lithium-ion battery packs manufactured by LG Chem in South Korea.
NHTSA’s investigation on three Bolt EVs—one from 2017, 2018, and 2019—states that “fire damage appeared to be concentrated in the EV battery compartment area with penetration into the passenger compartment from under the rear seat. The root cause of these fires is unknown.” So far, two injuries related to the problem have been reported, including an incident specifying smoke inhalation injuries.
NHTSA advised Bolt EV owners to park their cars outdoors and away from houses.
In a video shared by GM, Executive Chief Engineer Jesse Ortega explained the problem in detail, sharing that the batteries were at full or nearly full charge during each of the five reported incidents.
To address the problem, GM is giving its dealers a software update beginning November 17 while it continues to investigate the cause of the incidents. The software update will limit the battery’s charge to 90%. Owners of the recalled Bolt EVs are also advised to set an appointment with dealers to get the software update.