Chevrolet is voluntarily recalling 68,667 MY 2017-2019 Bolt EVs worldwide over the risk of battery fires; the majority of the cars affected—50,925—are in the US. The action is in response to five confirmed instances of vehicle fires that could relate to the high voltage battery in the Bolt.
In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation in relation to three reported Bolt fires; GM said that it was already deep into its own investigation, and is working closely with NHTSA on diagnosing the problem.
2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV
According to Jesse Ortega, Executive Chief Engineer for the Bolt EV, all of the vehicles with fires were equipped with cells manufactured by LG Chem in its Ochang, Korea plant between May 2016 and May 2019. All of the vehicles were at or near their maximum State of Charge (SoC).
Ortega said that there are no confirmed incidents in vehicles with batteries not from this facility or not at a similar state of charge.
MY 2020 Bolts use a different cell chemistry, and do not appear to be affected, according to GM’s current analysis. (Hence, the recall stops with MY 2019.) Further, LG began providing cells from its Michigan plant for the MY 2019 Bolt; those vehicles are not affected by the recall.
Dealers will reflash the software to limit the maximum SoC to 90% to reduce the risk of battery fire while GM continues its investigation into the problem.
We do not believe the underlying condition is present in all of the recalled vehicles. Until we identify the vehicles with suspect high voltage batteries, we believe it is prudent to limit the state of charge.—Jesse Ortega
GM is asking customers to change their charge settings to limit maximum SoC until they can get the flash update. The company is releasing a video to help customers through the process. The Bolt EVs in question pre-dated the rollout of the OTA capability, hence requiring the customers to bring the vehicles in for the process.
GM has a dedicated team working on analyzing and solving the problem. Ortega said that the company intends to deploy a final remedy to remove the 90% limit after the first of the year.