Recall Alert: GM’s Chevy Bolt Recalled Due to Fire Concerns

Recall Alert: GM’s Chevy Bolt Recalled Due to Fire Concerns

A recall has been issued for the Chevy Bolt EV, particularly for the electric battery for several thousand 2017-2022 models. The batteries have been found to be a fire risk, with several vehicles having caught fire while parked. With more than 110,000 batteries affected by the recall and each battery replacement costing roughly $11,650, GM is looking at spending more than $1.2 billion to repair and replace the recalled batteries, making it one of the most expensive recalls ever on a per-vehicle basis.

Details of the Recall

Initially, GM announced a recall for the Chevy Bolt in November of last year. In the Safety Recall Report, they stated that there were potentially 50,392 vehicles affected by the recall, or roughly 1%. At the time, they stated that they weren’t sure of the exact cause of the problem but were investigating the issue and working to figure out a solution. In the meantime, they stated that they had developed software that limited the vehicle’s ability to charge from full capacity to 90% in hopes of mitigating risk.

In May of this year, they announced an update in their software that they believed to repair the problem. However, not long after the update was released, two more vehicles that had had the software update caught fire. Though GM has not been able to confirm that the fires were caused by battery issues or by other problems, shortly after, a recall for 2017-2019 models was issued, covering roughly 70,000 vehicles. Since then, the number of vehicles has almost doubled, with the Chevy Bolt recall expanding to include the remaining 2019 models, as well as all models from 2020-2022.

In a statement, GM said that they “will replace recalled vehicles’ lithium-ion battery modules with new lithium-ion battery modules,” and that the new batteries would come with an 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty. They also stated that they are working on increasing production of the new batteries and would notify customers of when the replacement batteries were ready. In the meantime, the company is urging Bolt owners to avoid depleting their battery below approximately 70 miles of remaining range, setting their vehicles to a 90% state if charge limitation, and parking their vehicles outside after charging them. GM also told drivers to avoid parking their vehicles near garages, homes, and other structures in case a fire was to start.

Other Hazardous Electric Batteries

At least nine fires tied to the malfunctioning batteries led to the issue of the GM Chevy Bolt recall. In a statement, GM representatives stated that their engineers have identified the cause of the battery fires as a couple of manufacturing defects in batteries produced in their South Korea facility. However, GM is not the only manufacturer experiencing issues with their electric vehicles catching fire.

In September of 2020, BMW recalled multiple BMW and Mini plug-in hybrid models, stating that they were at risk of catching fire due to debris that may have gotten into the batteries during the manufacturing process. Shortly after, Hyundai announced a recall affecting more than 6,000 of their electric SUVs after 15 of them caught fire while parked. And Tesla has been under criticism after several of their vehicles – some parked, and some on the roads—caught fire due to electric battery issues.

Data has also shown that battery-powered cars burn “longer and hotter” than gasoline-powered vehicles, with the lithium-ion in the electric batteries supercharging the flames. In April, a Tesla Model S in Texas caught fire after colliding with a tree. The fire burned for four hours despite the use of close to 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish it, or roughly 40 times the amount firefighters use to extinguish the average gasoline car fire.

While some Chevy Bolt owners have been able to get their vehicles bought back, others have not been so lucky. Chevrolet has been responding to buyback requests on a case-by-case basis, in part due to the inconsistency in Lemon Laws across the nation. Some buyers have been offered car swaps (though as the recall expanded, this became less common due to a lack of viable exchange options), and still others’ complaints have been met with silence. On their website, GM stated that they are “working aggressively with LG to adjust production to have replacement modules available as soon as possible,” though there is no estimate of when that will be. In the meantime, however, most Chevy Bolt owners are stuck waiting for a solution to be found.

If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to a defective product, it’s imperative that you speak with a Product Liability Lawyer to ensure your rights are protected and that the negligent manufacturer is held accountable. The attorneys of The Callahan Law Firm have been representing people injured by defective products for over 25 years, and we can help you too. Schedule a no-cost confidential consultation by calling our Houston office at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.