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GM Issues Recall Over Chevy Bolt EV Battery Fires, Prevention Guidance

In the wake of five vehicle fires involving 2016-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EVs, General Motors has issued a global recall and is asking owners to have their software updated to prevent further incidents.

The first fire occurred in summer 2019 and there have been five to date. The one common element: All were at, or near, a full state of charge when the fire started, says Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

The only injuries have been reports of smoke inhalation, and both GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are investigating the fires.

The recall affects 68,667 2016-2019 Bolt EVs globally, with 50,925 of them in the U.S. All have battery cells manufactured by LG Chem in Korea from May 2016 to May 2019. The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV is not affected; it has a different cell chemistry.

Starting Nov. 17, owners will be able to get a software reflash over the air from their dealer. They can also bring their vehicles to a dealer to have it done. Owners are also being asked to set their charge settings on their vehicles to a maximum 90 percent charge—not a full 100 percent. GM has created a video to help customers do so. Until the max charge is set to the 90 percent limit, customers should not park their Bolts in a garage. Ortega said the hope is GM has a final solution to the problem in the new year.

GM has said it will show the Bolt EUV early next year and it will go into production next summer at the Orion assembly plant in Michigan.

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