Call me paranoid, but I've never like to leave the electric vehicles I test plugged into the garage attached to my home. I've come out to find the cords and receptacles very hot to the touch. One very popular model would not charge at all. Every time I plugged it in, it immediately tripped the breaker. Another premium brand EV would not charge at any meaningful level. When I had a second one to test a year later the charger was completely different and it worked well. What was I afraid of? Burning my house down.
As it turns out, maybe I'm not nuts. Or at least with regard to this topic. General Motors has just recalled over 50,000 Chevy Bolts (that is a LOT of any EV) because "The affected vehicles’ cell packs have the potential to smoke and ignite internally, which could spread to the rest of the vehicle and cause a structure fire if parked inside a garage or near a house." And this vehicle tester knows from speaking to IIHS and other safety groups that EVs are ridiculously hard to put out once the fire gets going. IIHS won't even store the crashed EVs in a building for fear of it burning to the ground.
Here's a fun EV fire warning from NHTSA: "These vehicles can catch fire even if they are turned off, parked, and disconnected from a charging unit." So, unplugging the EV still doesn't protect you. Note to self, park the EVs on the street in the future. That's not my idea. NHTSA says, "...the safest place to park them is outside and away from homes."
This is not one of those "Abundance of caution" type of recalls where the problem is just a theory. The recall notice includes the following sobering news: "NHTSA has confirmed five known fires with two injuries; at least one of the fires spread from the vehicle and ignited a home."
Please feel free to add a comment at the bottom of the page accusing me of being anti-EV for only reporting EV-related fires. Before you do, you may want to check out the author's bio first and note these related stories:
- New study proves that fire-related recalls are serious business
- Safety Group Uses Statistical Analysis To Find Elevated Hyundai Kia Fire Risk
- Will Fires Result In this Vehicle Being Named a Lemon?
How Do I Know If My Vehicle Is On This Recall List?
If you own a Bolt and want to check if yours is on the recall list, here is a link directly to GM's recall lookup tool.
Chevy Has A Message For Bolt Owners Found At This Special Bolt Fire Problem Page.
View the NHTSA Bolt fire recall info here.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of an academic team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and automotive supply chain market. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin