The company does not have a fix for the problem that has been tied to at least nine fires nationwide since early 2020. The new fix will likely involve replacing battery modules or perhaps the entire battery pack, said GM spokesperson Dan Flores.
GM and federal safety regulators are providing steps that Bolt owners should take before their cars can be repaired. These include not parking it in a garage or next to another structure such as a home or other building due to the risk of a fire spreading. All the fires occurred when the cars were parked, and there were two reports of injuries.
The Bolt is the only EV that GM currently sells in North America, though it has other EVs it sells elsewhere, including China. US sales of the Bolt have been climbing rapidly, rising 142% to 20,000 in the first six months of this year compared with the first half of 2020. The model year 2020 and 2021 Bolts have a newer type of battery than the ones that caught fire.
This latest fire risk is comes just as GM is trying to expand its EV business.
GM first announced a recall of the affected Bolts in November 2020 but, then as now, it said it did not know how to fix the problem. In May it announced a software repair but then there were two fires involving vehicles that got that software fix, prompting the latest recall.
Other steps that Chevy Bolt owners can take to reduce the risk of fire until a new fix is decided include keeping it below an estimated remaining 70-mile range where possible. Owners also should also set their vehicle to the 90% state-of-charge limitation either using Hilltop Reserve mode in the 2017 and 2018 model years or the Target Charge Level mode in the 2019 model year.
Or they can bring their vehicle to a dealership to make that change ahead of the replacement work.
All nine fires occurred in the United States, where nearly 51,000 of the recalled Bolts are located. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there were two fires in vehicles that had the software fix, Flores said the automaker could not confirm the second of those two fires was due to the same battery problem. (The flatbed truck holding the burned out car was stolen from a lot in New Jersey before it could be inspected.)