GM recalls covering all Chevy Bolts due to fire risk

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — General Motors said Friday it is recalling all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles sold worldwide to fix a battery problem that could lead to a fire.

The recall and others raise questions about lithium-ion batteries, which are now used in nearly all electric vehicles. Ford, BMW and Hyundai have all recently recalled batteries.

President Joe Biden will need electric vehicles to reach his goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in 2030, as part of a broader effort to fight climate change.

The GM recall announced on Friday adds about 73,000 bolts from the 2019 to 2022 model years, recalling the last 69,000 older bolts.

GM said that in rare cases the batteries have two manufacturing defects that could lead to a fire.

The Detroit-based automaker said it would replace the battery modules in all vehicles. In older versions, all five modules would be replaced.

The latest recall will cost the company about $1 billion, bringing the total cost of the Bolt battery recall to $1.8 billion.

GM said owners should limit charging to 90% of the battery’s capacity. A new SUV including the Bolt should also be parked outside until the module is replaced.

The original recall was blamed on a manufacturing defect at a South Korean factory operated by GM’s battery supplier LG Chemical Solutions. But the company said that an investigation has shown that there is a possible fault with the batteries made at other sites. Most of the new Bolt batteries are made at an LG plant in Holland, Michigan.

GM issued the first bolt recall in November after five of them were reported to have caught fire. Two people were killed and a house was set on fire due to the smoke.

At first the company didn’t know what caused the problem, but it determined that the batteries that caught fire were close to fully charged. This traced the fire to what is said to be a rare manufacturing defect in the battery module. This can cause a short in the cell, which can lead to a fire.

GM said it began investigating the new Bolt after a 2019 model, which was not included in the previous recall, caught fire in Chandler, Arizona, a few weeks ago. This raised concerns about the new bolt.

Company spokesman Dan Flores said that fire brought the total number of fires to Bolt to 10.

GM says it is working with LG to increase battery production. The company says that as soon as the parts are ready, owners will be notified to take their cars to dealers.

Flores said he’s not sure when that would happen.

Flores said the company said it would not produce or sell any more Bolts until it was satisfied that the problems with the LG battery had been resolved.

“Our focus on safety and doing the right thing for our customers guides every decision we make at GM,” GM product development chief Doug Parks said in a statement.

The batteries in the new module will come with an eight-year, 100,000 mile (160 km) warranty, the company said. GM will replace all five battery modules from 2017 to 2019. Bad module will be replaced in the new model.

GM said it would pursue reimbursement from LG.

The Bolts are only a small fraction of GM’s total US sales, which drive about 3 million vehicles in a typical year. But they are the first of an ambitious rollout of electric models as GM tries to achieve its goal of selling only electric passenger vehicles by 2035.

Other automakers are also announcing additional electric models around the world to cut pollution and meet strict government fuel economy standards.

Shares of General Motors Co. were down about 2% in extended trading after the recall was announced.

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