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Chevy Bolt EV recalled for battery fires after a full charge

General Motors laid out a couple of ways to mitigate the risk until a software update is ready at dealers and a fix for the root of the problem comes to light.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

Chevrolet Bolt EV owners, there's an important recall announcement you should absolutely pay attention to. General Motors will recall nearly 69,000 cars globally due to the risk of battery fires breaking out. Around 51,000 of the cars part of the recall are located in the US.

CNBC first reported the recall on Friday and GM confirmed the information before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filed official documents online. The government agency had already opened an investigation into the electric car last month after two reports of battery fires. GM confirmed it's aware of five instances that appear related to this new recall. 

Specifically, the recall applies to 2017-2019 Bolt EV hatchbacks with high-voltage batteries produced at LG Chem's Ochang, Korea, facility. The root cause of the problem is unknown, but the automaker said in a statement the fire risk occurs when the Bolt EV's battery is fully charged, or close to full capacity.

While GM continues to investigate the issue, it will roll out a software update that will cap charging capacity at 90% of the battery. Dealerships will be required to reflash the car to provide the software update, and until then, the automaker urged owners to use a workaround. This requires drivers to engage the Hilltop Reserve option for 2017-2018 Bolt EV models or Target Charge Level for 2019 models via the infotainment unit. With the option enabled, drivers will manually set the battery charge level to halt after a 90% charge. A video that shows owners how to complete these steps is available here.

"If customers are unable to successfully make these changes, or do not feel comfortable making these changes, we are asking them to not park their car in their garage or carport until after they have visited their dealer," GM said in its statement.

The company said it expects a final fix for the issue sometime after Jan. 1.

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