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The Smoke Clears: GM announces fix to Bolt battery fire issue

Detroit, Michigan — In a piece of good news for the automotive supply chain and drivers alike, engineers at General Motors have figured out how to fix a battery problem with the Chevrolet Bolt electric hatchback that has already caused five of them to catch fire.

The company says they developed diagnostic software to look for anomalies in the batteries of 69,000 Bolts worldwide—about 8,000 of them in Canada—from the 2017 through 2019 model years. If problems are found, the company will replace faulty parts of the battery.

Owners of the 2019 Bolt will have the software available to them on Thursday, while drivers of the 2018 and 2017 models will have to wait until the end of May.

The vehicle has been marred by recent reports of battery faults causing fires, with two drivers suffering from smoke inhalation in November.

GM managed to trace the fires to what it called a rare manufacturing defect in battery modules. It can cause a short in a cell, which can trigger a fire. Under the remedy, dealers can diagnose battery issues, and they’ll install diagnostic software that will warn owners of any problems, said GM spokesman Dan Flores.

“We extensively validated the software to detect potential battery issues and protect our customers,” said Flores.

Engineers determined the fires took place in Bolts with battery cells made at an LG Chem factory in Ochang, South Korea, from May 2016 to May 2019.

Some 2019 Bolts and all 2020 and 2021 versions have cells made at an LG Chem plant in Holland, Michigan and are not included in the recall.

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