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GM recalls all Chevy Bolts for fire risk

General Motors is expanding its recall of the Chevy Bolt to include all models — including the two new versions released earlier this year — after multiple fires in the electric vehicle’s battery packs caused by defects in the LG Chem cells found inside.

GM is warning owners not to charge their Bolts in or near their homes overnight, and to park the vehicles outside when not being charged. It’s also asking owners not to charge their Bolts above 90 percent, or to deplete the battery to below 70 miles of remaining range.

Owners should follow these guidelines until replacement modules — the groups of batteries that make up the pack — are ready. It’s not clear when that will be, though. GM says it will “only begin replacing battery modules in customer vehicles when GM and LG are confident in the safety of LG’s product.”

“We are working aggressively with LG to adjust production to have replacement modules available as soon as possible,” Daniel Flores, a spokesperson for GM, said in an email.

GM had already recalled the 2017-2019 model year Bolts twice after the initial fix — in which new software was supposed to help stop any fires from happening — appeared not to work.

The expansion of the recall comes after a 2020 model year Bolt caught fire this week in the United States. A video of the fire had been posted to YouTube but was removed a few hours later, and users on Reddit had noticed that it was a newer Bolt that wasn’t subject to the original recalls.

GM confirmed to The Verge that the vehicle was in fact a 2020 Bolt, but said it has not had a chance to inspect the remains of the electric car. “That vehicle is certainly troubling but we base recall decisions on data,” Flores said.

In July, GM confirmed that the fires happen when there are two defects present in the LG Chem batteries that power the Bolt. On Friday, the company specified that the defects are a torn anode tab and a folded separator in the cell. It also shared that the defects are in cells made at multiple plants.

“After further investigation into the manufacturing processes at LG and disassembling battery packs, GM discovered manufacturing defects in certain battery cells produced at LG manufacturing facilities beyond the Ochang, Korea, plant,” GM wrote in a statement. “GM and LG are working to rectify the cause of these defects. In the meantime, GM is pursuing commitments from LG for reimbursement of this field action.”

The recall has cost GM some $800 million to date, but the company said Friday that the expanded recall will cost an additional $1 billion.

GM is not alone in having trouble with LG’s batteries. Hyundai had to recall the Kona EV earlier this year after a handful of vehicles caught fire. The company even discontinued the electric SUV in South Korea, as sales cratered following the fires and the recall.

But GM’s partnership with LG runs deep. GM and LG are spending billions of dollars building battery factories in the US to supply cells for the automaker’s upcoming lineup of electric vehicles, including the Hummer EV.

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