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GM recollects Chevrolet Bolt EVs resulting from hearth threat in the course of a federal probe

The Chevrolet Bolt EV on display during the Los Angeles Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 20, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Josh Lefkowitz | Getty Images

General Motors recalls tens of thousands of all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to fire hazard.

The Detroit-based automaker announced on Friday that it will be recalling 68,667 cars worldwide from model years 2017 to 2019, including nearly 51,000 in the U.S. The recall includes some vehicles used by GM's majority-owned cruise autonomous vehicle subsidiary.

According to Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, GM has confirmed five cases of fires in the vehicles that "could be related to the high-voltage batteries."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into three reported fires involving Chevrolet Bolt EVs in October. The automaker is partnering with the federal vehicle safety agency, Ortega said.

According to Ortega, GM has a dedicated team of engineers and experts working to pinpoint the cause of the fires. So far, they have determined that the most common factors in the fires were vehicles being fully or almost fully charged and batteries being manufactured by GM's partner LG Chem in South Korea between May 2016 and May 2019.

GM doesn't expect a full resolution of the problem until next year. In the meantime, GM is asking Bolt EV owners to make an appointment with a Chevrolet dealer starting Tuesday. The dealer will flash again and update the vehicle's battery software to limit the vehicle's maximum charge to 90%.

Until customers receive the software update, GM is asking owners to change their vehicle's settings to reduce its charge capacity. A video about it was posted on Friday. If customers find it "uncomfortable" to change the settings, they should avoid parking the vehicles in garages or carports until they receive the software update.

NHTSA's probe included 77,842 Bolt EVs from 2017 to 2020 model years. GM said it will not be recalling any 2020 model year vehicles because their batteries have a different formula from the previous models with no fires reported.

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