Two Chevrolet Bolt EVs recently caught fire after being repaired as part of a recall last year that affected nearly 51,000 vehicles in the United States, federal security officials said Wednesday.
Now owners of Chevrolet Bolts from model years 2017 to 2019 have been asked to park their vehicles outdoors after charging and not to leave them overnight while charging, officials and the automaker said on Wednesday.
The affected vehicles were originally recalled in November 2020 over concerns that some of them might contain high voltage batteries “which can pose a fire risk when fully or nearly fully charged,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said at the time.
As part of the 2020 recall, the automaker General Motors offered to have the software in the vehicles reprogrammed so that the batteries could only be charged up to 90 percent of their original capacity.
Then two Chevrolet Bolt EVs that had been serviced as part of that recall caught fire. A fire broke out in Vermont this month. The other happened in New Jersey, a GM spokesman told CNBC.
Vermont vehicle owner Timothy Briglin, a state lawmaker, said his 2019 Chevrolet Bolt caught fire on July 1 when it was plugged in and parked in its driveway. Although a Vermont State Police press release said the vehicle was “plugged in and charged when the fire was discovered,” Briglin said it was inaccurate. He said the vehicle was plugged in at 8 p.m. with about 10 percent remaining in the battery.
“The Bolt’s charging system said it would reach 100 percent charge between 3:30 am and 4:00 am, at which point it would stop charging,” said Briglin. The vehicle caught fire around 6:30 a.m., he said.
Mr Briglin also said officials from General Motors and the Road Safety Department would be in Vermont on Friday to examine his vehicle.
General Motors, the manufacturer of the vehicles, said in a statement on Wednesday, “Safety is our top priority and we are going as soon as possible to investigate this issue.”
On Thursday, a General Motors spokesman referred to the company’s online statement encouraging owners of affected vehicles to keep them waiting while the company investigates the issue.
The traffic safety agency said they are “investigating these recent fires”.
Nearly 380,000 Kia vehicles were recalled in March over concerns that electronic components in certain vehicles could short out and cause fires. The drivers of the Kia vehicles were instructed in a safety recall report from the traffic safety authority to watch out for warning lights, a “burning / melting smell” or smoke from the engine compartment.