General Motors has issued a recall for Chevy Bolt electric vehicles manufactured between 2017 and 2019, after a dozen of them had their batteries catch fire in just over a year, including two in the last month.
In a media statement Friday, GM said it will replace defective batteries in the vehicles, but meanwhile instructed owners not to charge their cars beyond 90% of battery capacity and park them outdoors and away from structures right after charging, rather than leaving them indoors overnight, Electrek reports.
The problem traces back to a battery manufactured by LG Energy Solutions, with Porsche announcing a recall due to losses of power in a different LG battery, and Ford and Hyundai switching to other battery suppliers.
“This all started with a recall of 68,000 Bolt EVs in November of last year,” Electrek writes. “While Hyundai had a similar problem and eventually elected to replace all Kona EV batteries with newer ones, GM decided that software could fix their problems. There have been at least two Bolt EV fires that had the final software update installed, which prompted GM’s recent announcement.”
While EVs as a whole are still less likely to catch fire than internal combustion vehicles, “the opposite is actually true with the Bolt EV,” the industry newsletter states. “Especially the 2019 model year, which is more than an order of magnitude more likely to catch fire than a 2019 gas car while parked.”
Word of the battery issue began filtering out earlier last week, with GM tweeting July 20—three days before the official announcement, and “almost silently”, Electrek says—that batteries should only be charged to 90%. “Many owners who don’t pay attention to the news were frustrated to find out this week via Facebook or other sources,” Electrek says.