U.S. safety agency probes vehicle fires in Chevy Bolt EVs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators said Tuesday they are investigating reports of fires in three General Motors GM.N electric Chevrolet Bolt cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was opening a preliminary evaluation after reviewing reports of three Bolt EVs catching fire under the rear seat while parked and unattended.

NHTSA said “in the three cases identified, fire damage appeared to be concentrated in the EV battery compartment area with penetration into the passenger compartment from under the rear seat.”

The probe covers 77,842 Bolt EVs from the 2017 through 2020 model years.

GM said in an emailed statement it is “cooperating with NHTSA in their investigation and we are conducting our own investigation into these complaints as well.”

NHTSA said the root cause of the fires is unknown.

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.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky