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Friday, 16 October 2020 17:20

Chevy Bolt Battery Compartment Fires Investigated

Written by David A. Wood, Car Complaints

Index

Chevy Bolt battery compartment fires have caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a federal investigation into 2017-2020 Bolt EV cars.

Three Chevrolet Bolt fires have occurred under the rear seats while the cars were parked and unattended.

 

The owner of a 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV said they exited the car in their driveway and plugged it into the charger, but within two hours the Bolt was on fire with smoke billowing out of the car.

 

The owner said the fire seemed to be coming from the battery area, and it took the fire department three hours to bring the fire under control.

 

"The fire department evacuated us, our downstairs neighbors and both units of the home next door during the fire," the owner said. "The fumes from the burning materials was so thick and noxious it permeated our home, requiring professional cleaning. We experienced headaches following contact with the smoke."

 

According to the owner, the Bolt was considered a total loss and General Motors eventually purchased the car from the insurance company.

 

In a separate incident, the owner of a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt said the electric vehicle was fully charged and traveled about 12 miles to an open parking area. After parking the car, the owner heard a neighbor ring the doorbell because heavy white and gray smoke was coming from the back of the car.


"I called 911 and firefighters doused the car with water for an hour after smashing the rear window to get access to the smoking area," the owner said. "They left, less than an hour later I called 911 again because the smoke restarted. Smoldering was so hot it partly burned the backseat. Once the car was cool enough it was towed to the dealership where it was originally purchased. There it began to smoke again."

 

The owner again called 911 and firefighters stopped the smoke, but minutes later at about midnight heavy smoke was shooting from underneath the front passenger side of the Bolt.

 

"Based on the above, I believe the problem was a high voltage battery runaway thermal event," the owner said.

 

The EV owner claims GM refused to investigate the Bolt fire because the insurance company was called first.

 

Although the affected Bolt EV owners believe the fires and smoke originated in the battery compartments, NHTSA says the "root cause of these fires is unknown."

 

Federal investigators will try to determine the root cause of the fires and if nearly 78,000 Chevy Bolts are too dangerous to drive, or even park.

 

We thank Car Complaints for reprint permission.

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