An investigation is now underway.
The Chevrolet Bolt does not have a history of catching on fire. There have been some Tesla fires, which have been blamed on the battery, but Chevy's EV hatchback has had a stellar safety record so far. And that's why this latest piece of news is somewhat alarming. According to Washington, D.C. ABC 7 news affiliate, a Bolt owner from Fairfax, Virginia had an unexpected Fourth of July event. Hajime Rojas's Bolt caught on fire in the parking lot outside of her parent's home. It wasn't exactly the Independence Day celebration she had in mind.
"I was seeing smoke just growing and growing and getting bigger and bigger behind the car," Rojas said. "When you see that, I mean you don't know what's going to happen."
Rojas immediately called 911 even though no flames were visible. However, there was more than enough heat to melt the rear seat and other plastic electrical components. Needless to say, Rojas's insurance company declared the Bolt totaled and had it towed to a scrapyard. The exact cause of the fire remains unknown. Even the firefighters who responded to the scene didn't seem to know for sure, but they did ask Rojas where the car's lithium-ion battery was located (it's beneath the rear seat).
Despite the Bolt's five-star government safety rating, Rojas was rightly concerned about what happened and decided to investigate further. She was surprised to learn a few other Bolts had also been destroyed in fires.
Her next step was to inform General Motors about what happened and requested an investigation. The company's response was not what Rojas wanted to hear. GM refused to probe the matter and stated her insurance company had to deal with things. Only after Rojas reached out to the news station who, in turn, contacted the automaker, did GM finally say it'll investigate the fire. Rojas succeeded in alerting the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding her situation and it's also now looking into the matter.
Typically, lithium-ion batteries are safe although they do contain a flammable liquid. However, some sort of defect could create the right conditions for a fire, hence the need to investigate the situation.