November 19, 2020: General Motors on November 13 was forced to issue a recall for thousands of models of its Chevrolet Bolt vehicles after five battery fires were recorded.
The batteries, made by Korean manufacturer LG Chem, are at their most dangerous when at or near full capacity, a safety recall report from the US National Highway Transport Safety Administration says.
All Chevrolet Bolts made in 2017-2018 are affected, as well as certain 2019 models, bringing the total of potential recalls to 50,932.
“The high voltage battery could catch fire when charged to full or nearly full capacity,” says the announcement, which also says that to mitigate the risk, GM has developed software that limits the charging to 90% of full capacity.
“The condition is specific to battery cells produced at LG Chem’s Ochang, Korea plant that are design level 2.1.” the recall document says.
“From July 20, 2020 through to August 26, GM received four claims alleging that the high-voltage battery pack in a Chevrolet Bolt caused a fire. GM opened a product investigation on August 26, to investigate these claims.
“From August 26 through November 5, GM’s product investigation team conducted field and warranty data searches and onsite vehicle inspections to investigate the origin of the alleged fires. GM also worked with LG Chem to identify a potential root cause.
“In total, GM has identified 12 fire-related allegations involving 2017 through 2019 model year Chevrolet Bolt vehicles that may be battery related.
“Of these claims, GM has, to date, confirmed that a battery-related fire appears to have occurred in five cases.”
Instructions to car owners have been given as to how to limit the charge capacity of their vehicles as an interim measure until repairs have been carried out, but if they are unable to do so they are advised not to keep their vehicles in a garage or even a car port.
Just last month, German carmaker BMW had to recall almost 30,000 plug-in hybrid cars around the world because of a fire risk with batteries.
The 3, 5 and 7 series, Mini Cooper Countryman and i8 were among other models using lithium batteries made by Samsung.