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The Chevy Bolt Recall Is A Weird One

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Photo: Chevrolet

Chevy is recalling over 68,000 Bolts from model years 2017-2019 because of the risk of fire, with 50,925 of those in the U.S., after cases of parked Bolts catching fire. Chevy has offered Bolt owners a slightly complicated band-aid of a solution until Chevy can offer a more permanent one.

There were smoke inhalation injuries in two of the fires but none in the others, five of which have been identified by GM so far, according to Automotive News. GM thinks they are linked to batteries it sourced from LG Chem and made in South Korea. In all five fires, GM said that the batteries were at capacity, and so it’s recommending to owners with 2017, 2018, or 2019 Bolts to take steps to limit the capacity of the batteries to 90 percent.


GM also has a website devoted to the issue, while NHTSA is also involved.

Jesse Ortega, GM’s chief engineer on the Bolt said in a video that if you have a 2017 or 2018 Bolt you should use the Hilltop Reserve mode until there’s a fix. For those with 2019 Bolts, Ortega says to change the target charge setting to 90 percent. If you can’t make these changes, or don’t feel comfortable making them, Ortega says that you should park your Bolt outside your garage and not under a carport because of the fire risk.


Ortega shows you how to make the changes at about the 2:30 mark in the following video:

GM says it’ll give its dealers a software update on Monday which, when installed, will automatically limit Bolts from charging more than 90 percent, and that affected Bolt owners should make appointments with their dealers to have the update installed.

Another software update will be available sometime early next year, Ortega says, and GM is working “around the clock” to figure out what is going on and issue a permanent fix. That fix, which would eliminate the reduction to 90% battery capacity, won’t be until at least January 1, 2021.


This is all of a piece of how I imagine recalls will increasingly look like as EVs grow in use: Fixes via software update.