HomeNewsRecalled Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 Model Burned to Ashes

Recalled Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 Model Burned to Ashes

A recent incident in Sacramento, California reignited a debate about the safety of electric vehicles. Customers value the safety of the vehicle more than anything. The car companies need to make their cars as safe as possible to shift the attitude of people to buying more electric vehicles. Recently, Chevrolet has given this attitude adjustment a major setback.

Recalled Chevrolet Bolt EV Burned

Recalled Chevrolet Bolt EV 2017 Model Burned to Ashes

Incident

A 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV recently caught fire in a parking lot in Sacramento, California. It belonged to Jesus Damian. According to the owner, the car just caught fire sometime around 2 AM. It was Damian’s neighbor who first saw the flames and the firefighters trying to get control of the fire. The neighbor sent the video footage to Jesus Damian who was asleep in his apartment. The Chevrolet Bolt EV burned a few other vehicles around it. This incident has provoked Damian and he is likely to sue the automotive giant General Motors, the parent company of Chevrolet. The company has called back and updated the car that caught fire in California. The car caught fire after it was returned to its owner after the call back. 

The investigators do not know the State of Charge of the battery at the time it caught on fire. State of Charge is the percentage of charge that is present in the battery. As the entire car has turned to ashes, it will be very difficult for the investigators to conclude anything definitively. It is a hard task to salvage all the components of the car. There is less chance that anything survived.

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Jesus Damian said that he hadn’t even plugged in the car to charge from a charger. This means that the State of Charge of the battery was fairly constant while in the parking lot. This brings into doubt the claims made by the company in November about battery risks if the charge is more than 90%. We do not know what was the State of Charge of the car when it was in the parking lot. 

Callback

Jesus Damian had one of the many Chevrolet Bolt EVs that the company called back. After the company returned the car to him, he thought that all his problems were behind him. Little did he know that his car was going to catch fire. He said that his 2017 car exploded even after returning from the company. The company kept Damian waiting for someone to call him back about the incident. No news has reached about the call Jesus was about to receive from the company.

General Motors recently called back 69000 Chevrolet Bolt EV for upgrades. Chevrolet did several improvements to the cars that were called back. These upgrades included software updates and many other improvements. One advantage of the upgrades is that the Chevrolet Bolt EVs have an increased range.

Upgrades: Software and batteries

The largest automobile company, General Motor has used batteries made by LG Chem Ltd. LG Chem Ltd. manufactured the batteries in its facility located in Ochang, South Korea. The batteries have some production defects and injuries. This is the reason why General Motors has recalled all the Chevrolet Bolt EVs that were sold since the vehicle was launched. The company has called back all models of the Chevrolet Bolt EV from 2017 to 2019.

Engineers are installing software upgrades in the cars. The Detroit automaker calls these software the Advanced Diagnostic Software. This software will identify potential issues regarding the battery module performance and help to alleviate them. They are installing software which is more efficient and uses the battery more optimally. These high performing software increase the range of the car by using the charge stored in the batteries more prudently.

Official company statements

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General Motors had made a statement regarding the Bolt EVs in November. They had said that the batteries in the electric vehicles pose a fire risk when they are charged to full or 90% of their full charge storing capacity. This risk has now destroyed cars in a parking lot in Sacramento. Luckily, no one was killed or injured in the fire as it was very late at night.

During the statement made in November, General Motors had said that the new software update will not allow the battery to charge above 90% capacity. This was a step in the interim while the experts at General Motors found a more permanent fix to the problem. In April 2021, when the company called back the Chevrolet Bolt EVs; it said that it will now upgrade the software in the electric vehicle. This new update will allow the car to charge up to 100% state of charge and help it to perform better on the road.

It is very uncanny that the car caught fire after General Motors had revamped it and made many upgrades. Clearly, the permanent fix the company installed in the 69000 electric Chevrolet Bolt EVs hasn’t worked for all the cars General Motors called back. There is also a possibility of a mix up in the factory and Damian’s car never got the updates. It is very hard to verify this as the car has turned black and gray now.

Jesus Damian said that he hadn’t even plugged in the car to charge from a charger. This means that the State of Charge of the battery was fairly constant while in the parking lot. This brings into doubt the claims made by the company in November about battery risks if the charge is more than 90%. We do not know what was the State of Charge of the car when it was in the parking lot. 

Issues with Chevrolet quality

The recall wasn’t the first one. In fact, General Motors has called back the Chevrolet Bolt EV for the third time since its launch in 2017. This is really shameful for the Detroit Auto giant. It has decreased the faith in the company’s vehicles and has also affected their sales.

According to statistics only 9% of all the electric vehicles sold in the United States of America were Chevrolet Bolt EV. The company has stiff competition. If it wants to survive the change in the automotive industry, it needs to deliver better products which are safer, efficient, competitive and innovative. If their vehicles do not meet the requirements of the consumers, the brand Chevrolet will fall out of fashion and will be a company of the past. 

Customer service and battery issues

Onlookers who witnessed the fire said that they heard a huge boom followed by cracking noises and then saw a huge flame. Damian posted to Reddit to let fellow Chevrolet Bolt EV owners know about this debacle. A Chevrolet spokesperson got in touch with Damian not long after the incident took place.

Battery fires are a major cause for people to shy away from buying electric vehicles. If incidents such as these keep on happening, fewer and fewer people will be interested to buy electric vehicles. Petrol cars will increase pollution levels which will harm the environment resulting in global warming and climate change. 

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Raajas Joshi
An electrical engineer passionate about electric vehicles and sustainable technologies.

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