Permanent Fix Found for Chevrolet Bolt EVs With Fire Risks

General Motors announced it has found a permanent fix for thousands of 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV cars equipped with potentially faulty high-voltage batteries.

This comes after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation last fall following at least three separate cases where a Bolt EV sustained fire damage. Apparently, a defect in the battery made by LG Chem can cause it to overheat when charged to over 90 percent of its capacity. 

The automaker therefore recalled over 50,000 units in the U.S. and 7,983 in Canada, but only offered a temporary solution—reprogramming the hybrid propulsion control module to limit the battery charge to 90 percent.

Photo: General Motors

Alternatively, owners were told to enable "Hilltop Reserve" (for 2017-2018 models) or "Target Charge Level" (for 2019 models) using the Bolt EV’s infotainment centre, or park the car outdoors and away from other vehicles or buildings until the software update is installed.

That’s not very reassuring. Plus, by limiting the battery charge to 90 percent, it’s impossible to get the maximum available range with these Bolt EVs (383 kilometres).

Photo: Caleb Gingras

Now, GM says dealers will use a special diagnostic tool to identify potential battery anomalies and replace battery module assemblies as necessary. They will also install advanced on-board diagnostic software that can detect potential issues related to changes in battery module performance before problems occur.

This permanent repair will be available for U.S. and Canadian owners of 2019 Bolt EVs starting Thursday, with 2017-2018 models to follow by the end of May.

Incidentally, said advanced diagnostic software will be offered to all other Bolt EV owners in the coming months. It will be standard in the new 2022 Bolt EV and 2022 Bolt EUV.

Watch: First look at the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

New Models2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Debuts as Bolt’s Little Big Brother
General Motors chose Valentine’s Day to finally unveil the much anticipated crossover variant of the Bolt EV. Will the all-new 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV win the heart of Canadian drivers? It sure looks nice and boasts many good attributes, but it also comes with a number of disappointments—at least on …
Electric2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV Gets Fancier and a Whole Lot Cheaper
Over 100,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs have been sold globally since its debut as a 2017 model, including more than 13,000 in Canada. Five years later, GM’s electric hatchback gets a major refresh and a substantial price cut to attract even more customers. It was unveiled on Sunday at the same …
RecallsThousands of Chevrolet Bolt EVs Recalled Due to Fire Risk
In mid-October, we reported about several electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles being investigated because the high-voltage battery can overheat and lead to a fire. One of them was the Chevrolet Bolt EV . Now, we’ve learned that General Motors has no choice but to recall thousands of them. First, here’s …
ElectricSeveral EV Models Now Under Investigation for Fire Risks
Electric vehicle technology is progressing quite rapidly, but there are still a number of issues automakers and battery suppliers need to address. Have you ever heard of EVs catching fire for some obscure reasons, whether after a crash or while charging? Accounts of incidents like these are sometimes pretty alarming.