General Motors has issued another recall for the Chevy Bolt due to defective battery cells which could ignite and start a fire. The recall affects almost 69,000 cars and applies to 2017-19 model years, exactly like the previous recall GM issued. This time, GM is going to replace the batteries instead of relying on software to stop the fires, per Reuters.
This latest recall comes just over a week after NHTSA learned about two EV fires in Bolts that had already gone through recalls, and had received the supposed software remedy. In its latest statement, NHTSA urged owners to avoid parking indoors because of the fire risk. From NHTSA:
The vehicles that should be parked outside are those that were originally recalled in November 2020 for the potential of an unattended fire in the high-voltage battery pack underneath the backseat’s bottom cushion. The affected vehicles’ cell packs have the potential to smoke and ignite internally, which could spread to the rest of the vehicle and cause a structure fire if parked inside a garage or near a house. This recall affected 50,932 MY 2017-19 Chevrolet Bolt vehicles.
Vehicles should be parked outside regardless of whether the interim or final recall remedies have been completed. NHTSA is aware of two recent Chevrolet Bolt EV fires in vehicles that received the recall remedy.
This recall follows up on those instructions from NHTSA, which GM also recommends. GM says it has identified the issue, according to Reuters, and these trace back to two defects inside of the batteries, made by LG Chem:
The largest U.S. automaker said “experts from GM and (battery maker) LG 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.”
GM said earlier the high voltage batteries being recalled were produced at LG Chem Ltd’s (051910.KS) Ochang, South Korean facility.
Now that the carmaker knows what the problem is, it’s going much further than using software or diagnostics, and it will finally replace the battery cells causing the fires, but it’s all a bit of a mess.
The recalls have stacked at this point and the carmaker’s instructions are a bit convoluted. Basically, the guidelines from GM are the following:
- Don’t charge the Bolt beyond a 90 percent state of charge.
- Don’t deplete the battery below 70 miles of remaining range.
- Don’t leave the car unattended indoors (like in a garage.)
- Don’t charge overnight.
GM also recommends charging the car after every use, which is where it gets confusing, if you ask me. If you’re charging the car after every use, you could accidentally charge it over the 90 percent threshold, which GM doesn’t want drivers to do.
From the carmaker’s instructions, it seems like there is a “safe” range for the battery, and it looks like GM wants Bolt drivers to stay within that range as much as possible until it can look at the batteries and replace them if needed.