GM extends recall to cover all Chevy bolts due to fire hazards


GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (AFP) – General Motors said Friday it 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 are now used in nearly all electric vehicles. President Joe Biden wants to convert 50% of the US vehicle fleet from internal combustion to electrification by 2050 as part of a broader effort to combat climate change.

The recall announced Friday adds about 73,000 2019 to 2022 model bolts to an earlier recall of 69,000 older bolts.

GM said that in rare cases, there are two manufacturing defects in batteries that can cause fires.

The Detroit-based automaker said it will replace battery modules in all vehicles.

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

GM said owners should limit charging to 90% of the battery’s capacity. Bolts, including a new SUV, must be held outdoors until the units are replaced.

The original recall was blamed on a manufacturing defect at a South Korean plant operated by LG Chemical Solution, a supplier of General Motors batteries. But the company said an investigation showed defects are possible in batteries made at other locations. Most of the newer Bolt batteries are manufactured at LG’s plant in Holland, Michigan.

GM issued its first recall of the Bolts in November after receiving reports of five of them catching on fire. Two people suffered from smoke inhalation and a house caught fire.

At first, the company didn’t know what was causing the problem, but decided that the batteries that caught fire were close to fully charged. The fires traced back to what she called a rare manufacturing defect in the battery units. It could cause a dungeon short, which could result in a fire.

GM said it began investigating its latest bolt after a 2019 model that was not included in the previous recall caught fire a few weeks ago in Chandler, Arizona. That raised concerns about the latest bolts.

The fire brought the total number of Bolt fires to 10, company spokesman Dan Flores said.

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

Flores said he’s not sure when that will be.

Flores said the company said it wouldn’t produce or sell more screws until it was satisfied with solving problems with LG’s batteries.

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

The company said the batteries with the new units will come with an eight-year and 100,000-mile (160 km) warranty. GM will replace all five battery modules in the 2017 to 2019 Bolts. Defective units will be replaced in newer models.

GM said it would pursue payments from battery maker LG Chemical Solution.

Bolts are only a small part of GM’s total sales in the United States, which approaches 3 million vehicles in a typical year. But it is the first to launch ambitious electric models as General Motors tries to meet the goal of selling only electric passenger cars by 2035.

Other automakers are also advertising additional electric models around the world to cut pollution and meet the government’s strictest fuel economy standards.

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

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