GM issues second bolt recall; Faulty batteries can cause fire

General Motors is recalling some older Chevrolet Bolts for a second time to fix persistent battery problems that could set electric cars on fire

DETROIT — General Motors is recalling some older Chevrolet Bolts for a second time to fix a persistent battery problem that could set electric cars on fire.

Until repairs are made, GM says owners should park the cars outside, charge the battery to 90% of its capacity, and not drain the battery below the 70-mile range. The company says the Bolt should not be charged overnight, and should be parked outside immediately after being charged.

The second recall comes after two bolts that caught fire under the previous recall, one in Vermont and the other in New Jersey. This includes approximately 69,000 Bolts worldwide from 2017, 2018 and is part of the 2019 model year. All have batteries made in South Korea by LG Chem.

The recall is another bug in the growing global rollout of electric vehicles by all automakers to replace internal combustion vehicles to cut emissions and fight climate change. Ford, BMW and Hyundai have all recently recalled batteries. In addition, the US National Transportation Safety Board investigated a series of fires in Tesla vehicles and said earlier this year that high-voltage lithium-ion batteries pose a safety risk to first responders after crashes.

GM says a faulty Bolt battery may have two rare manufacturing defects in the same cell at the same time. So GM will now replace any faulty battery module and possibly the entire battery pack.

Spokesman Dan Flores says engineers are still working round the clock to figure out how to find battery faults and what repairs will be done. He said GM doesn’t know how long it will take to develop the fix. Flores said the number of bolts with defects is likely to be small.

The previous recall, announced in April, did not completely fix the problem. It was diagnostic software designed to look for battery anomalies. If any were found, GM said it would replace the faulty parts.

Some are not affected by the 2019 Bolt and the 2020 and 2021 model years. Their batteries were made by LG in Holland, Michigan.

“We understand that past memories and this recall cause great inconvenience to our customers,” Flores said. “We appreciate their patience and we understand their frustration.”

He said GM will handle customer complaints about inconvenience and low travel limits on a case-by-case basis.

The company says that owners who haven’t repaired the recall in the first place should still take their cars to dealers for a fix.

The recall was the first since the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into the fire last year. The agency said in documents that the fire started under the rear seat when the cars were parked and non-stop.

Once the last recoil has been repaired, the full chain of the bolt will be restored. The older Bolt could go about 238 miles (383 kilometers) per charge.


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