The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating consumer complaints that the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle can catch fire. According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the probe by NHTSA covers nearly 78,000 Chevy Bolts made by General Motors from the 2017 through 2020 model years. The agency says it has received three reports of fires that began in the rear seat while the cars were parked and unattended. One person suffered smoke inhalation.
Ongoing Investigation of Reports
According to reports, the fire damage appeared to have been concentrated in the battery compartment area, spreading into the passenger area. General Motors has said it is cooperating with federal officials and conducting its own investigation into the matter. The company would not comment when asked if the vehicles should be parked outside until the cause of the fires is determined. The safety agency will determine how often the fires occur and assess the safety issues involved. This investigation could potentially lead to a recall.
In one of the complaints filed with NHTSA in March 2019, a Bolt owner in Massachusetts said his vehicle was parked in the driveway and plugged into the charger for a little over an hour when the fire began. The owner then found smoke coming from the rear of the 2018 Bolt, from the battery area. It took firefighters about three hours to get that fire under control and owners reported suffering headaches from the smoke.
In another fire in Virginia in July 2020, the owner of a 2019 Bolt told NHTSA that the car was driven to a townhouse development with a private parking lot. Twenty minutes after arriving, the neighbor rang the doorbell and reported white smoke coming from the back of the Bolt. Firefighters reportedly doused the car with water for an hour and left, but the report said the fire restarted less than an hour later. The NHTSA is expected to come out with a report about this investigation soon.
Auto Product Liability Issues
We hope NHTSA releases its investigation report as soon as possible so consumers who own these vehicles are not put in a dangerous situation. Based on the reports, it appears that the fires are extremely intense and have the potential to cause significant injuries and damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of these or other auto defects, you may be able to seek compensation for the damages and losses you have suffered. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to help you better evaluate your legal rights and options.