Aug 23, 2021 - Energy & Environment

What we're driving: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV with a problem

Image of a 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV parked outside my garage while charging

2022 Chevrolt Bolt EUV should be charged outside due to a fire risk. Photo: Bill Rapai for Axios

This week I'm test-driving the 2022 all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EUV. Four days into the loan, it was recalled by General Motors.

Why it matters: The car's batteries may catch fire.

What's happening: GM isn't messing around. The company is telling all Bolt owners to park their vehicle outside and away from structures and to not charge the car overnight. And it gave owners special instructions for charging in the meantime to avoid extreme charging cycles.

  • Since I had a Bolt EUV from the media test fleet, GM advised me to follow the same instructions as any Bolt owner.

What I did: With help from a video on GM's dedicated Bolt recall page, I hit a few buttons on the car's touchscreen to limit the charging capacity to 90%.

  • This was pretty simple, but GM says anyone who feels uncomfortable making the change should ask a dealer to do it right away.
  • Following GM's instructions, I also recharged the battery more frequently rather than waiting until the battery was almost run down.
  • Those deep charging cycles can put thermal strain on a battery, causing a short.
  • I also parked the car outside my garage and per GM's advice, did not leave it charging overnight.

The root cause of the problem, per GM and its battery supplier, LG Chem, is a rare manufacturing defect in battery modules that can cause a short in a cell and trigger a fire.

  • GM says it is working with LG to increase battery production, and owners will be notified when replacement modules are ready.

What's next: This isn't the car review I expected to write about the Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle), a slightly roomier version of the Bolt EV hatchback. I really enjoyed driving it, and I plan to share some of the highlights — including its hands-free highway-driving option — in the coming days.

  • But right now, the focus is on avoiding catastrophe.

Editor's note: Joann Muller tests new vehicles in her role as a juror for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

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