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GM recalling nearly 69,000 Bolt EVs for fire risks

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors Co GM.N said on Friday it was recalling 68,677 electric cars worldwide that pose a fire risk after five reported fires and two minor injuries.

FILE PHOTO: A red 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicle is seen on the assembly line at General Motors Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Michigan, U.S., March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The recall is for 2017-2019 model year Chevrolet Bolt EVs with high voltage batteries produced at LG Chem Ltd's 051910.KS Ochang, South Korean facility.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last month opened a preliminary investigation into the Bolt EVs after reports of three Bolts catching fire.

GM said the vehicles pose a fire risk when charged to full, or nearly full capacity. The Detroit automaker said it had developed software that will limit vehicle charging to 90% of full capacity to mitigate the risk, while it determines the appropriate final repair.

“We’re working together around the clock to deploy a final remedy as soon as possible after the first of the year,” Jesse Ortega, executive chief engineer for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, told reporters on a conference call.

LG Chem said in a statement; “We will cooperate with GM and sincerely proceed with an investigation to identify the exact cause of fire.”

NHTSA said Bolt owners “should park their cars outside and away from homes until their vehicles have been repaired, due to a new recall for the risk of fire.”

The recall includes 50,932 U.S. Bolt vehicles.

Smoke inhalation injuries were reported in a March 2019 incident in Belmont, Massachusetts. A Bolt caught fire in the driveway and the owner said strong fumes permeated the home during a three-hour fire requiring professional cleaning. The owners also reported they suffered headaches from contact with the smoke.

Dealerships will update the vehicle’s battery software beginning next week.

Other electric vehicles have faced fire risk recalls.

Last month, Hyundai Motor Co 005380.KS issued a recall for nearly 77,000 Kona EVs worldwide, saying possible defects in battery cells increased the risk of a short circuit or fire.

The affected vehicles in Hyundai’s recall also use LG Chem battery cells, produced in the supplier’s factory in Nanjing, China.

LG Chem denied any cell defects but said it was working with Hyundai.

Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL; Editing by Chris Reese, David Gregorio, Richard Chang and Tom Brown