NHTSA, the US American Federal Highway and Vehicle Safety Administration launched an investigation in response to complaints about Chevrolet Bolt electric cars catching fire. Again, there appears to be a problem with the batteries.
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So far, there has not been an official recall. Still, it is also unclear whether the Opel Ampera-e is similarly affected, given that it is identical in construction and assembled at the same plant. According to US reports, the official probe now underway relates to 77,842 Bolt EVs from the 2017 through 2020 model years, when the Ampera-e was also being built in large quantities.
Lately, quite a few of the world’s largest carmakers are wondering what the problem is with their car batteries: Hyundai is apparently working on a worldwide recall of the Kona Electric, whereby battery supplier LG Chem is looking into its responsibility. BMW is again recalling plug-in hybrids, this time because of impurities in the battery. Deliveries of the Ford Kuga PHEV are still suspended because Ford apparently hasn’t solved the problem with the overheating battery yet, which is why no recall has been initiated.
Update 14 November 2020: An official recall has now been started after the US transportation authority NHTSA initiated an investigation a month ago. The affected cars are 68,667 Bolts of the model years 2017 to 2019, of which 50,932 are in the USA. The NHTSA is warning owners not to park the cars in garages or near homes because of the risk of battery fires. GM recommends limiting the maximum charge level to 90 per cent and plans to update the battery software from 17 November.
Update 23 February 2021: While Hyundai has now decided to replace the entire batteries of all 77,000 Kona Electric vehicles worldwide because of defective LG cells, General Motors has announced a software solution for its Chevrolet Bolt that is expected to eliminate the problem from April. Although Hyundai tried this first too, the software solution was not enough to fix the problem.
GM now said to InsideEVs that the Chevrolet Bolt does not use the same LG cells as the Hyundai Kona Electric, explaining that the separator is different. Is this really the reason or is this explanation just GM’s attempt to avoid an expensive replacement of the batteries? We will find out after the Bolt’s software update.
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