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Everything we know about the Chevy Bolt EV fires

The Chevy Bolt EV has been recalled twice for the risk of battery fire after a dozen fires in a little more than a year. The first recall was in November, with a fix provided in May, which did not fully work. GM then recalled them again in July after another fire on July 1 and a second on July 2 and two on July 25th. On August 16th GM announced that they would start replacing all battery modules in affected Bolts, the same day that a 2020 caught fire as well. This recall has restricted vehicles to about 60% of the battery capacity, and vehicles should not be charged unattended or parked indoors. No fix is currently available. Based on information that is publicly available, here is a list of Chevy Bolt EV fires that we have found.

While GM has not confirmed the causes of all them, they are all believed to be battery-related. However, as a disclaimer, we do not know any of the details for certain other than that GM has confirmed nine of the fires as battery-related. Many of these details are provided directly from the owners but obviously cannot be verified with certainty. We have provided details and links to the supporting material.

There are two Bolt EV Fires with unknown years, one possible battery fire, four 2017s, one 2018, eleven 2019s, including four with the final software fix, and one 2020. One of the early July fires was confirmed to be battery-related. The other vehicle went missing, but since it was burnt down to the frame, it is unlikely that a determination could be made.

Overall, electric vehicle fires are definitely rarer than gas car fires. Unfortunately for GM, this makes the 2019 Bolt EV with the Korean manufactured battery somewhere around 35 times as likely to catch fire than a 2019 gas car while parked at home.

There is a fire on August 25, 2020, that we are still trying to find the details of, same with the one in Monroe, New Jersey. There are also two other fires under investigation by GM. One is likely to be from before November 2020 and one from the first three weeks of May 2021. No details are known about these fires. There are also four other fires that GM investigated and did not confirm were battery-related. This could be because a determination was not possible due to the extent of the damage. GM was asked and has declined to provide any additional details.

Model Year 2021 Bolt EV Fires

No known battery-related fires.

Model Year 2020 Bolt EV Fires

August 16, 2021 – Los Angeles, CA

  • LT w/ DCFC – VIN withheld by request – ~6000mi – Built Nov 19, 2020
  • Details:
    • Purchased January 9th, 2021. Car was less than 8 months old.
    • No damage, dings, or anything. Car was in perfect condition. Never had any problems.
    • Car was frequently let run down to ~30% before plugging in.
    • Car had charged from 9:00pm and completed at 3:04am.
    • Car was in driveway all day still plugged in.
    • Loud bang as smoke erupted out of the side of the car at 5:05pm – 911 was called very shortly thereafter.
    • Fire visible from under the car 3 minutes later.
    • 4 minutes after that the aluminum body panels were melting.
    • FD was on site 10 minutes after the smoke erupted, but car was fully on fire by that point.
    • Very clearly is a battery fire.

Model Year 2019 Bolt EV Fires

June 29, 2020 – Miami, FL

  • LT w/ DCFC – VIN 1G1FY6S07K4113757 – 20972mi – Built Nov 7, 2018
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11425524
  • References:
    • BidCars
    • bidfax
    • Scott Virgin – youtube video of the early stages, smoke only
    • Auction pictures from July 1 2020 – Lot number 27990292; IAAI auction 36707410
  • Details:
    • Auction sold at auction Oct 29, 2020 – discrepancy in date, maybe GM was investigating?
    • Car was just fully charged and left unattended. Took two visits for the fire department to stop the fire.
    • “Got slammed on depreciation when insurance paid out, was a total nightmare.”
    • “When I called GM after this, they literally told me they wouldn’t do anything for me at all unless “I sued them.” I couldn’t have imagined being treated worse on my first new car purchase, Chevy corporate and the dealership treated me like garbage. For the rest of my life, I will NEVER buy a Chevy.”
  • Confirmed by GM to be battery related– via date of fire mentioned in their preliminary report

July 4, 2020 – Vienna, VA

August 5, 2020 – Tracy, CA

  • No specific details on trim or build date yet, other than it was a 2019 model year.
  • Massive fire of a Bolt that also caught a hydrogen car parked next to it on fire. Interestingly the hydrogen car vented its tank and avoided explosion.
  • GM did investigate but did not conclude that it was battery related. The fire was massive and completely gutted both cars, so it’s likely that it’s impossible to determine cause.

October 6, 2020 – Port St Lucie, FL

October 16, 2020 – Jacksonville, FL

  • Premier w/ DCFC – VIN 1G1FZ6S06K4109857 – Built Oct 12, 2018 – ~30k miles
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11364692;
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Owned for 22 months, 30k miles, never had a problem.
    • Plugged in overnight (habitual), in driveway, to 32A ChargePoint L2.
    • Finished charging around 6:30am.
    • About 1.5 hours later, started to smoke from under the car.
    • The sound of popping noises were heard and then 10 minutes later the car was engulfed in flames.
    • Took 7 months to get to a resolution – owner was asked for an update and replied week of July 10th, 2021, said cannot share details

October 21, 2020 – Monroe, NJ

May 1, 2021 – Ashburn, VA

  • Premier w/ DCFC – VIN 1G1FZ6S05K4**** – Built Nov 13, 2018 – ~18k miles
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11415800
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Bought Mid Dec 2018
    • In the owner’s garage, charged overnight from ~15%, unplugged in the morning not yet at full, caught fire several hours later.
  • Fix Status:
    • Temporary fix was applied
    • Final fix not yet applied
    • Habitual deep discharge cycles.

July 1, 2021 – Thetford, VT

  • LT w/ DCFC – VIN number withheld – Built Oct 29, 2018 – ~40k miles
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Bought Nov 2018.
    • In the owner’s driveway, charged overnight from ~10%, charged to full.
    • Charge expected to have completed around 4am.
    • Around 6:30 there was a loud sucking noise.
    • He went outside to see massive amounts of smoke coming from the rear.
    • He called 911, and 10 minutes later the car burst into flame.
    • Deep discharge cycles at ~50% of the time.
    • GM Confirmed to be battery related
  • Fix Status:
    • Temporary fix had not been applied, however the owner set charge limit to 90% himself.
    • Final fix had been applied June 9, 2021.

July 2, 2021 – Bound Brook, NJ

  • LT w/ DCFC – VIN number withheld – Built Feb 5, 2019
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11425225
  • Details:
    • In the driveway just at the corner of the house
    • Plugged in L2 at ~30 miles remaining, charged to full (this was habitual)
    • Woke up to a bang around 6am
    • By the time the fire department arrived, car was a complete fireball
    • Car burnt down to the frame, nothing remaining
    • Wreckage was apparently stolen
    • Side of house damaged, water damage inside as well
  • Fix Status:
    • Temporary fix was applied Nov 13, 2020.
    • Final fix had been applied April 29, 2021.

July 25, 2021 – Chandler, AZ

  • LT w/ DCFC – VIN 1G1FZ6S09K4****** – ~27k miles
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11427180
  • Details:
    • Parked in garage, horn started going off
    • White smoke pouring out from under the car
    • Contact treated for smoke inhalation, wife broke 3 toes
    • Car is a total loss
    • Special thanks to Shawn Walker who did a lot to track down the details

July 25, 2021 – Glen Ellyn, IL

  • LT w/ DCFC – VIN 1G1FY7S07K4******
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11427581
  • Details:
    • While driving, car began to rapidly slow down
    • Pulled over to side of highway and parked
    • Car began to smoke from front underbody
    • No warnings prior to this
    • “There was no vehicle left after the fire”
    • This vehicle had an American battery, and thus was not subject to the recalls
    • Special thanks to Wendy Greenhouse and Shawn Walker who did a lot to track down the details

Model Year 2018 Bolt EV Fires

March 17, 2019 – Belmont, MA

Model Year 2017 Bolt EV Fires

September 20, 2019 – Kiev, Ukraine

  • Premier – VIN 1G1FX6S03H4125870 – Built Oct 31, 2016
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Originally Purchased June 2, 2017;
    • Sold at auction in California as “FLEET/LEASE” on Feb 11, 2019 with 99,155 miles.
    • Very high mileage for only 20 months. Suspect rideshare/maven?
    • Fully charged at a public station, drove home (10 minutes), waited in the car for 15 minutes, went inside.
    • “After a couple of hours” they noticed that fire trucks were putting out the fire.
    • Car was completely destroyed
    • Witnesses said white smoke was coming from the rear wheel area.

July 25, 2020 – Maplecrest, NY (?)

  • LT – VIN 1G1FW6S09H4**** – ~25k miles
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11374956
  • Details:
    • Parked in garage charging.
    • Possibly received phone notification that charge was complete.
    • Went to garage to unplug, car was already on fire in the back seat.
    • Fire spread rapidly from there (within minutes entire car was ablaze)
    • Car and garage destroyed

July 30, 2020 – Temecula, California

  • Premier – VIN 1G1FX6S07H4176983 – Built Sep 2017 – ~60k miles
  • NHTSA ID Number: 11365622
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Purchased in Sep 2017, for 2 years they charged every night and had 230+ miles of range
    • in Summer 2020 car was only charging to 170 miles range, they brought it in twice and told there was no problem
    • Fire occurred plugged in.
    • Lying in bed above the garage, she heard a “whoooosh” and went downstairs to the garage to see full of smoke, unplugged, evacuated, then could see fire and heard an explosion.
    • House and contents a write-off
  • Confirmed by GM to be battery related – via date of fire mentioned in their preliminary report

November 1, 2020 – Langenfeld, Germany

  • 2017 or 2018 Ampera-E Premiere – Purchased Feb 28, 2018.
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Is likely a 2017 – owner said “First Edition” and Europe was slow to get the vehicles. It’s possible it was a 2018 but unlikely. Was ordered before Dec 2017.
    • ~52,000km ~32,000mi
    • Car was on a 22kW L2 AC charging station, note that this is common in Europe. So this is 32A L2 charging for us.
    • Plugged in around 5pm, theft message OnStar SMS message at 1:13am. 1:26am call from police.
    • Firefighters showed up at 1am, the text message was likely from them smashing the window to get access to the inside
    • They doused the under-hood of the car first (oops) – since that’s where the smoke was mostly coming out of
    • This sort of reaction may be why some fires are total losses and some are smaller
    • Fascinating fire: likely from a module in the FRONT of the pack first!
    • Bought another Ampera-E on November 18th

Unknown Year(s)

August 25, 2020 – Unknown Location

  • All we know about this one is that it’s mentioned in GM’s preliminary report as a date that a battery fire occurred.

Please note these are just possibilities. It’s likely that GM investigated, but it’s not clear what the cause of the fire was.

Before November 18, 2020 – Bessemer, AL

  • 2019 Premiere w/ DCFC – 1G1FZ6S05K4108747 – Built Oct 2018
  • References:
  • Details:
    • Damage to the rear seat could be from a thermal runaway before a fire started. The hole in the seat matches where the heat would come out. If the firefighters were on scene they could have ripped out the seat.
    • The final bid amount is the same as others with a battery fire.
    • Large delay between declared a loss by insurance (Nov 18 2020) and auction sale (Apr 20 2021) could mean that GM had for investigation.
    • This is possibly the one that we knew was under investigation since November 2020, but was not confirmed as a battery fire.

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