Last month, General Motors announced one of the largest motoring recalls in recent history, confirming that every Chevrolet Bolt it has produced is to be recalled over fire risk caused by potential defects in their LG-supplied batteries.
Among its previous recall notices, GM had taken the unique step of advising owners to not plug-in or park their cars in garages attached to their homes overnight. Now, the American car manufacturer has gone one step further; reportedly asking Bolt owners to not park their cars within 50 feet (or 15 metres) or other cars.
The advice, published overnight by Bloomberg, indicates fears that Bolts that catch fire could cause cars parked nearby to also catch fire. This has prompted questions from Bolt owners living in condensed urban areas.
So far, GM has reported 10 Chevrolet Bolt fires, while the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims the number is actually 13 fires.
The update is the latest development in a disastrous few months for GM’s electric vehicle push. The Bolt had initially received consistent praise from critics, while also representing one of the cheapest EVs available in the US. A new model had only just debuted late last year.
On top of being advised not to charge vehicles overnight or park them near others, Bolt owners have also been previously advised to not charge their Bolts to over 90 per cent capacity, and to not deplete the batteries in their vehicles to less than 70 miles worth of range. Each of these measures is said to lessen the chances of overheating.
GM appears likely to draft some kind of buy-back scheme for Chevrolet Bolt owners, having already carried out a number of buy-backs from owners according to a report earlier this week from the Detroit Free Press.
The report outlined the case of one particularly disgruntled Bolt owner named Durham Smith. Based in South Carolina, Smith purchased a Bolt 15 days before the model was recalled. He went back to the dealership in the hopes of swapping the model for an equivalent value petrol vehicle, only to be told they could only offer a figure some US$10,000 short of what the Bolt had cost.
Unhappy with the resolution, Smith left the Bolt (keys still in it) at the dealership before taking a taxi home. The 74-year-old is reportedly considering paying for a full-page advert in his local newspaper, telling his story.
“I am looking at a couple of options, none of which are paying on it because I feel that would be to acquiesce and it’d be an admission of ownership. I see it as unethical on General Motors’ part to leave the car on the market,” Smith told the Detroit Free Press.
“GM’s actions thus far have done nothing to instill confidence in either their capacity to fix the problem nor in any veracity in a statement about having done so.”