Feds to investigate the Chevrolet Bolt EV after three fires


Enlarge / This is the 60kWh battery pack found inside a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The front of the pack is to the right of the picture, and the hump to the left are the double-stacked modules that live under the rear seat.

Jonathan Gitlin

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation of the Chevrolet Bolt EV following several reports of vehicle fires. Specifically, NHTSA says it was contacted by two owners reporting that their Bolt EVs had caught fire while parked and unattended. The agency did some digging and turned up a third instance, and on October 9 it opened a preliminary investigation into the scope, frequency, circumstances, and safety consequences of the fires.

In each case, NHTSA says the burn pattern was similar: fire damage was concentrated in the lithium-ion battery compartment (which sits underneath the passenger compartment), with some penetration into the passenger area through the rear seat. The three affected cars span model years 2017-2019.

In one case—a MY 2018 Bolt EV in Belmont, Massachusetts—the vehicle was plugged into a charger in the owner’s driveway when it caught fire. In this case, the residents and their neighbors had to be evacuated by the fire department due to noxious fumes and smoke.

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