GM recalling Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to fire risks amid federal probe

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is displayed during the Los Angeles Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Josh Lefkowitz | Getty Images

General Motors is recalling tens of thousands of all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to risk of fire.

The Detroit automaker said Friday it is recalling 68,667 of the cars globally from the 2017 through 2019 model years, including nearly 51,000 in the U.S. The recall includes vehicles GM’s majority-owned subsidiary Cruise is using to test its autonomous vehicle technologies.

GM has confirmed five instances of fires that “could be related to the high voltage batteries” in the vehicles, according to Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in October opened an investigation into three reported fires involving Chevrolet Bolt EVs. The automaker is cooperating with the federal vehicle safety agency, Ortega said.

GM has a dedicated team of engineers and experts working to determine the cause of the fires, according to Ortega. They have so far found that common factors in the fires included vehicles were at or near full charge and had batteries produced between May 2016 and May 2019 by GM’s partner LG Chem in South Korea.

GM doesn’t expect a full solution for the problem until next year. In the meantime, GM is asking Bolt EV owners to schedule an appointment with a Chevrolet dealership beginning Tuesday. The dealer will reflash and update the car’s battery software to limit the maximum charge of the vehicle to 90%.

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