Due to various issues about potential battery fires, General Motors has widened the recalls of its Chevrolet Bolt electric car, adding 73,000 additional vehicles to the total recall of around 142,000 cars – each one that Chevy has sold so far. The recall will cost roughly $2 billion in total, as the auto industry prepares to launch dozens of new electric cars within the next 24 months to satisfy President Joe Biden’s target of electric vehicles accounting for 50% of total United States sales by the year 2030.
The debut of GM’s all-electric Cadillac Lyriq and electric Hummer pickup, which will employ a different battery technology than the Bolt, round out the company’s EV lineup. The issue appears to be caused by manufacturing flaws that might cause their batteries to short-circuit even while they are parked. The business said in a statement that “under rare cases, the batteries provided to GM for these automobiles may have two manufacturing flaws — a folded separator and a torn anode tab — available in the same battery cell, increasing the danger of fire.”
GM first recommended owners to minimize charging but later revealed that it would recall 69,000 early Bolt Electric Vehicles to repair the faulty batteries, a process that would cost $800 million. It isn’t the only company that has had to cope with electric vehicle fires. Hyundai has recalled roughly 90,000 Kona EV models due to an “increase[d] danger of a fire while they are parked, charging, and/or driving,” according to the company.
The issue with the Kona appears to be the same as with GM’s Bolt models: manufacturing flaws in batteries provided by LG Chem, one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery producers. Following the Chevy news, the stock of the South Korean supplier dropped.
Other manufacturers, including electric vehicle giant Tesla, have been in the spotlight due to battery fires. In the San Diego suburbs, a home was burned in December after a Tesla Model S went up in flames while charging in the garage. A malfunctioning thermal management system meant to keep their battery pack investigators implicated cool.
Still, according to Sam Abuelsamid, principal auto analyst for the Guidehouse Insights, the coverage of EV fires may be exaggerated. For example, seven Chevy Bolts have gone up in flames, accounting for 0.006% of all Bolts on the road. In 2018, the National Fire Protection Association reported that 212,000 gas and diesel vehicles caught fire in the United States, accounting for 0.07 percent of all vehicles on the road. “Yes, there have been some battery fires,” Abuelsamid added, “but the numbers are modest, and they must be viewed in context.”