Chevrolet Bolt EVs Should Be Parked Outdoors Due to Fire Risk, Government Agency Warns

The electric vehicles may still catch fire even after a recall fix is completed

2019 Chevrolet Bolt Photo: Chevrolet

In a rare step, the government’s top vehicle safety watchdog has warned Chevrolet Bolt owners to park their electric vehicles outside and away from homes or other structures because of a fire risk. Owners have also been instructed not to charge their cars overnight.

A GM spokesman told CR that the company is advising customers, "In an effort to reduce potential damage to structures and nearby vehicles in the rare event of a potential fire, we recommend parking on the top floor or on an open-air deck and park 50 feet or more away from another vehicle. Additionally, we still request you do not leave your vehicle charging unattended, even if you are using a charging station in a parking deck."

Before this recall was announced, Consumer Reports purchased a 2022 Bolt EUV for our testing program and as a result of the recall, we are following all of GM’s recommendations about charging and parking.

The alert issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) comes eight months after Chevrolet recalled 51,000 Bolts from the 2017 through 2019 model years to fix battery packs that could ignite and cause a vehicle fire. But even Bolts that have already had recall work done aren’t free and clear: The automaker says it is aware vehicles that caught fire after the recall fix. CNBC reported that a 2019 Bolt caught fire while charging in Vermont even after the recall fix was performed.

“This is a serious safety alert. People with one of these cars should heed this warning,” says William Wallace, CR’s manager of safety policy. “It’s unusual to see an alert like this for cars that have already been repaired as part of a recall. We’re glad NHTSA is making this announcement and continues to investigate what’s going on. General Motors should do everything it can to help get to the bottom of this before someone gets severely hurt or killed.”

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In a written statement, Chevrolet told CR that Bolt owners who have not yet had their recall work completed should still get the fix, and that the automaker is “moving as quickly as we can to investigate this issue.” 

Only Bolts from the 2017 through 2019 model years were included in this initial alert. The batteries used in Bolts from the 2020 model year onward use a different chemistry than the affected model years, Chevrolet spokesperson Kevin Kelly told CR. However, since this story was first published in July, 2021, GM has since expanded its recall alert to include all Chevrolet Bolts and Bolt EUVs.

The Bolt uses batteries supplied by LG Chem. The electric Hyundai Kona was also recalled earlier this year after 12 reports of its LG Chem batteries catching fire in parked vehicles, although the Kona’s batteries have a different design from the Bolt’s and were manufactured in a different factory.

Chevrolet says owners of affected vehicles who have additional questions can visit the recall page, call the dedicated Chevrolet EV Concierge phone line at 833-382-4389, or contact their Chevrolet dealer.

The automaker “will do our best to provide loaner vehicles to those customers who request one,” Kelly told CR.


Head shot photo of CRO Cars CIA editor Keith Barry

Keith Barry

Despite my love for quirky, old European sedans like the Renault Medallion, it's my passion to help others find a safe, reliable car that still puts a smile on their face—even if they're stuck in traffic. When I'm not behind the wheel or the keyboard, you can find me exploring a new city on foot or planning my next trip.