General Motors is recalling nearly 51,000 Chevrolet electric cars in the United States whose battery modules have been found to be at risk of catching fire.
The recall covers Chevrolet Bolts from the 2017 to 2019 model years and comes after an earlier recall to add software designed to prevent the cars’ batteries from overheating. Two fires have been reported since the initial recall, including one in a Bolt that had the updated software.
The recalled Bolts use battery packs made in South Korea by LG Chem, a close partner in G.M.’s electric vehicle strategy.
G.M. and LG Chem linked the fires to two manufacturing defects that on rare occasions can be present in cells in the Bolt’s battery pack, the automaker said in a statement. G.M. plans to replace battery modules that have defective cells.
Until replacement modules are available, the company has advised owners to avoid parking the cars in garages or near buildings, and to avoid fully charging the battery packs.
“Experts from G.M. and LG have identified the simultaneous presence of two rare manufacturing defects in the same battery cell as the root cause of battery fires in certain Chevrolet Bolt E.V.s,” the company said. “As part of this recall, G.M. will replace defective battery modules in the recall population. We will notify customers when replacement parts are ready.”
G.M. is moving to ramp up production of electric vehicles. It plans to introduce more than two dozen models in the U.S. market over the next few years, and is building several battery plants in a joint venture with LG. G.M. has said it is hoping sales of electric vehicles will take off and surpass sales of gasoline-powered cars and light trucks within about a decade.
The company has set a goal of ending production of internal combustion vehicles by 2035.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration originally opened an investigation into fires involving the Bolt last fall and issued a new alert last week. The original recall was issued in November.