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General Motors Issues Recall for 69,000 Chevy Bolt EVs Due to Battery Fire Risk

General Motors Issues Recall for 69,000 Chevy Bolt EVs Due to Battery Fire Risk

Author: FutureCar Staff    

Automaker General Motors announced on Friday that it's issuing a new recall for roughly 69,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs worldwide for fire risks after reports of two battery fires.

The Chevrolet Bolt vehicles being recalled again are from the 2017-2019 model years and were first recalled last year for the potential of a fire in the high-voltage battery pack, which is located under the rear seat.

For the Nov 2020 recall, GM dealers installed diagnostic software and reduced battery state of charge to 90%. The risk of fire is increased when the battery is charged to full, or very close to full capacity, GM said.

However, at least one of the two new fires reported was in a vehicle that had already had the software update released as part of the first recall. In total, GM has confirmed nine total Bolt EV fires. 

The automaker said it will replace defective battery modules as needed, which depending on how many battery modules will need to be replaced could be costly for GM. 

The battery pack is one of the most expensive components in electric vehicles. According to energy storage research firm Cairn ERA, General Motors pays an average of  $169 per kWh for its battery cells while the industry average runs at about $186 per kWh, CNBC reported. The Bolt is equipped with a 66 kWh battery pack.

The battery in the Bolt EVs is warrantied by GM for 8 years of 100,000 miles.

In the interim, GM said that all of the Bolt owners affected by the recall should return their vehicles to a 90% state of charge limitation that the company first instructed owners to do last year.

The automaker also asked owners to charge their vehicle after each use and avoid depleting the battery below approximately 70 miles of remaining range, where possible, to reduce the risk of a fire.

Last week, GM and regulators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urged Bolt owners to park their vehicles outside and away from homes after charging as a precaution.

Experts from GM and its battery partner LG Chem 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 and LG engineers are working "to finalize all the steps of the recall repair process. That would include a potential dealer inspection process," GM said, adding that it "could replace full packs or suspect modules."

GM said earlier the high voltage batteries being recalled were produced at LG Chem's South Korean facility. The recall does not impact newer Bolt vehicles with GM's next-generation batteries.

The NHTSA opened its investigation of the battery fires in October 2020 and the investigation remains open as GM reviews its repair solutions. The agency said Friday it is aware of one fire with the interim initial recall fix and two fires with the software fix.

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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