Yet another Chevy Bolt has caught on fire due to an electrical failure. This time it’s a bit ironic because the owner is a U.S. State Representative who’s gone to bat for the new technology, according to a report from CNBC.
The representative from Vermont, Timothy Briglin, has even co-sponsored legislation in favor of electric vehicles, and is chair of the state’s House Committee on Energy and Technology. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire, per CNBC, but I still hope this doesn’t sour Briglin on electric cars:
The Vermont State Police said the cause of the fire “appears to be an undetermined electrical system failure” that started within the passenger compartment in the area of the back seat. The origin of the fire is consistent with a handful of previous fires reported to federal regulators and the company in Bolt EVs.
Briglin — who is chair of the state House Committee on Energy and Technology and has supported EVs, including co-sponsoring a bill relating to electric and plug-in hybrid EV incentives — did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fire was reported at about 9 a.m. Thursday at Briglin’s house in Thetford, Vermont, according to a release from Vermont State Police and public records. No injuries were reported.
Briglin’s Chevy Bolt was a 2019 model, which is within the range of the recall(s) GM put out months ago to deal with the risk of fire in 2017-19 model year Bolts. Most of these fires that have been caused by the defect start in the rear seat.
The recall affected over 68,000 cars and came in two phases, with the first being a temporary solution and the second a permanent one. It was a convoluted series of recalls, really, that limited charge capacity through software and then restored that capacity once it was safe to do so.
But the problem in this case is that Briglin’s car had already been taken in for the recall, from the CNBC report:
State Rep. Timothy Briglin, a Democrat, told authorities the EV had been serviced for the recall in recent weeks, Vermont State Police Det. Sgt. Matthew Hill said Wednesday. That could mean the repair was not done correctly; it’s not a solution for the fires; or there’s another problem with the vehicle.
To make matters worse, the recall that was applied to this particular Bolt was the “permanent” fix from GM, according to a report from Electrek that cites Briglin himself:
Briglin drove the car home around 7 p.m. on Wednesday June 30 and parked in his driveway. About an hour later, plugged it in with about 10% charge remaining. The dash said that charging would complete around 4 a.m. Around 6:30 a.m, Briglin was awake in his living room. He briefly heard what could only be described as a “very loud sucking noise.” Going outside, he could see smoke billowing out from the rear of his Bolt. The alarm started to go off; he ran over to unplug the car, and called 911. Within 10 minutes the fire department was there, and just as they were getting set up, the back of his Bolt burst into flames.
At the very least, the Bolt was charging in the driveway and not inside of a garage when it went up in flames. GM had warned drivers to not park inside any structures until it could find a solution, so there’s some silver lining here.
The not great news is that Bolts are still burning even after these recalls, and Teslas are burning, too. It’s very unfortunate that being an early adopter when it comes to EVs carries slightly more risk than that of an exploding smartphone, because it involves a two-ton machine that can catch on fire.