GM extends recall to cover all Chevy Bolts due to fire risk

Recall raises questions about lithium ion batteries, which are now used in nearly all electric vehicles

General Motors expanded a recall of its Chevrolet Bolt on Friday, announcing plans to repair thousands more of the electric autos. Getty Images / AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

General Motors is recalling all Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles sold worldwide to fix a battery problem that could cause fires.

The recall raises questions about lithium ion batteries, which now are used in nearly all electric vehicles.

President Joe Biden wants to convert 50 per cent of the US vehicle fleet from internal combustion to electricity by 2050 as part of a broader effort to fight climate change.

The recall announced Friday adds about 73,000 Bolts from the 2019 through 2022 model years to a previous recall of 69,000 older Bolts.

GM said that in rare cases, the batteries have two manufacturing defects that can cause fires.

The Detroit-based car maker said it would replace the battery modules in all the vehicles.

The move will cost the company about $1 billion.

GM said owners should limit charging to 90 per cent of battery capacity. The Bolts, including a new SUV, should be parked outdoors until the modes are replaced.

The original recall was blamed on a manufacturing defect at a South Korean factory run by LG Chemical Solution, GM’s battery supplier. But the company said an investigation showed that the defects could possibly be in batteries made at other sites.

Most newer Bolt batteries are made at an LG plant in Holland, Michigan.

The company said it will pursue reimbursement from LG Chemical Solution.

GM issued the first Bolt recall in November after receiving reports of five of them catching fire. Two people suffered smoke inhalation and a house was set ablaze.

At first, the company didn’t know what was causing the problem, but it determined that the batteries that caught fire were near a full charge.

The fires were eventually traced to what it called a rare manufacturing defect in battery modules which can cause a short in a cell, triggering a fire.

The Bolts are only a tiny fraction of GM’s overall US sales, which run close to three million vehicles in a normal year. But they are the first of an ambitious roll-out of electric models as GM tries to hit a goal of selling only electric passenger vehicles by 2035.

Other car makers are also announcing additional electric models worldwide to cut pollution and meet stricter government fuel economy standards.

Shares in General Motors Co were down almost 3 per cent in extended trading following the recall announcement.

Updated: August 21, 2021, 4:24 AM