An investigation has been launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into Chevrolet’s Bolt EV after complaints of the vehicles catching fire.
On Tuesday, documents posted to the agency’s website state there have been three reports of fires under the rear seat of the vehicles while they were parked and unattended. One person suffered smoke inhalation according to the reports. The fire damage was said to be concentrated in the battery compartment area, spreading into the passenger area.
Stated in the documents, about 78,000 Bolt EVs made by General Motors from the 2017 through 2020 will receive a “preliminary evaluation.” According to the documents “in the three cases identified, fire damage appeared to be concentrated in the EV battery compartment area with penetration into the passenger compartment from under the rear seat.”
One complaint out of Belmont, Massachusetts in March of last year, a Bolt owner stated their vehicle was parked in the driveway and had been charging just over an hour before the fire began. The owner came to find smoke coming from the rear of their 2018 Bolt mainly in the battery area. Two engineers were sent out from Detroit by GM to inspect the charger. According to the owner, GM ultimately purchased the EV from the insurance company.
Another incident was reported on July 4, 2020, in Vienna, Va. A 2019 Bolt owner disclosed to NHTSA that the car was parked in a townhouse development private parking lot. Just twenty minutes after arriving, a neighbor notified them that white smoke was coming from the rear of the Bolt. It too firefighters over an hour to extinguish the fire only to have it restart an hour later. Firefighters then returned to put out the fire again then towed it to a nearby dealer where the fire sparked up again. According to the owner, GM is refusing to investigate the fire as the owner called an insurance company first.
In an interview with FOX business news, GM spokesperson Dan Flores said the company is cooperating with NHTSA and conducting an internal investigation of its own stating “The safety of our products is the highest priority for the entire GM team.”
According to officials, there is currently no known root cause for the fires, but, depending on what the probe finds, these incidents could lead to a recall.