General Motors is recalling more than 50,000 Chevrolet Bolt vehicles and warning owners to park the electric cars outside of garages, after confirming the high voltage batteries may catch on fire when charged to full or near full capacity.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Chevy Bolt recall on November 13, following at least a dozen warranty claims indicating the electric vehicle (EV) battery overheated, resulting in at least five fires.
Chevrolet first learned about the Bolt battery problems in July, after four warranty claims reported vehicles caught on fire. General Motors (GM) opened an investigation with its battery parts supplier, LG Electronics, to collect field parts and continue monitoring for similar claims.
By November 5, GM had received a total of 12 reports of the batteries overheating, emitting smoke or smoldering, in which five of the reports resulted in actual fires starting in the engine compartment.
According to the investigation, GM determined the cells of the battery are specific to the issue at hand, and the root cause is still being investigated. GM and its part supplier determined the battery components are at risk of overheating and catching on fire when the battery is fully charged, or very close to full charge.
The recall includes approximately 50,932 model year 2017 through 2018 and certain 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicles manufactured by General Motors LLC of Warren, Michigan.
While investigations continue and a repair remedy is under development, GM is instructing owners to activate either the Hill Top Reserve (2017 and 2018 models) or Target Charge Level (2019 models) feature in their vehicle to limit the charge level to 90%, until the software update is completed.
Vehicle owners who are not confident in changing these settings in the infotainment system of their vehicle are being encouraged to park their vehicles outside and away from structures to avoid injuries or property damage in the case of a battery fire.
As an interim remedy, GM announced it will begin notifying customers of the recall with instructions on how to schedule a free repair appointment at their local dealer, who will be instructed to reprogram the hybrid propulsion control module 2 (HPCM2) to limit full charge to 90% to avoid the risk of fires at full charge. A second notice will be mailed when the final repair becomes available.
Customers with additional questions or concerns regarding the recall are encouraged to contact the Bolt EV Concierge Team at 1-833-382-4389 and reference the recall campaign number N202311730.