US Chevrolet Bolt owners told to avoid parking near other vehicles due to fire risk

The Bolt isn't currently available in NZ, but there are rumours it could be offered here in the future.
The Bolt isn't currently available in NZ, but there are rumours it could be offered here in the future. Photo credit: Getty Images

General Motors (GM) has recommended that Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle owners parking in public car parks do so on the top floor or on an open level, at least 15m away from other vehicles, citing potential fire risks.

The precaution would "reduce potential damage to structures and nearby vehicles in the rare event of a potential fire", a company spokesman said in an email. GM sent a notice to consumers who had asked about parking issues, he added.

GM had previously asked owners to park Bolt vehicles outdoors, away from structures, and to not charge them overnight.

GM also urged owners to not leave Bolt EVs charging unattended, even if using a charging station in a carpark. Bloomberg News reported the recommendation earlier.

The Bolt has never been formally on sale in Aotearoa, but there have been rumours of GM expanding into Australia after the closing down of Holden, according to AutoCar. That could see the vehicle eventually being offered in New Zealand, particularly with the Government pushing hard for more EVs on the road.

Last year Hyundai's Kona electric car was recalled, including from New Zealand, due to battery fire risk. There have also been isolated incidents of car fires involving EVs over the last few years, but the risk remains low.

The latest figure shows there are 27,925 registered EVs in the country, but the target is to increase that massively in the years to come to help fight climate change,

The Clean Car Discount, introduced earlier this year, is designed to help New Zealand achieve its carbon neutral goal, making EVs and plug-in hybrids more affordable.

That came after the Climate Change Commission recommended phasing out imports of fossil-fuelled cars by no later than 2035.

GM in August widened its Bolt recall to more than 140,000 vehicles to replace battery modules, at a cost now estimated at US$1.8 billion after reports of 10 fires.

The automaker said it would seek reimbursement from GM battery supplier LG.

Last week, the largest US automaker said it would extend a shutdown of a Michigan assembly plant by two weeks in the aftermath of the Bolt battery issue recall.

GM said the extension of the production halt at its Orion Assembly plant that will go through at least September 24 was "a result of a battery pack shortage" related to the recall.

GM will not resume Bolt production or sales until it is satisfied that the recall remedy will address the fire risk issue, it added.