Watch as a towed Chevy Bolt catches fire in a parking lot overnight

New footage of the burning Bolt EV adds even more fuel to the story of Chevy’s raging battery fires this week.

Early Monday morning, 20-year-old Jesus Damian’s 2017 Bolt EV caught fire while sitting in the parking lot near his apartment in Sacramento, California. The all-electric vehicle was unplugged and turned off when the fire broke out. The fireball comes after Chevy expanded its Bolt recall to include every model year earlier this month. The initial recall in November came after several reports of battery fires. GM blames battery maker LG for manufacturing defects.

A neighbor who watched firefighters put out the fire sent Damian a short video. The video was taken on a Monday at 2am. He fell asleep in an apartment away from the parking lot, but nearby residents told him they “heard a loud bang and then a cracking sound and a huge fire,” as he posted on Reddit. Cars parked around his Bolt, including a Maserati, Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra, were also damaged.

After posting a photo of the wrecked car to Reddit, Damian wrote, “I’m more [sic] making this post so people can understand and see that this is real and is happening.”

The owner says he has been in touch with Chevy and its auto insurance company and plans to sue GM. Company spokesman Dan Flores wrote in an email that Chevy was in contact with the car owner. Flores added: “We have started an investigation to find out the potential cause of this fire.”

“At this point, it’s a waiting game with everyone,” Damian wrote in an email. He said he was feeling very frustrated and angry.

The fire, which likely came from a battery under the floor, rendered the car unrecognizable. The Chevy Bolt has about 36,000 miles on it and includes the more expensive Premier package since the first year Chevy started making the Bolt.

2017 Chevy Bolt when brand new.
Credit: Jesus Damian

Bolt the Chevy after the battery is on.

Bolt the Chevy after the battery is on.
Credit: Jesus Damian

When Chevy added its entire Bolt line, including the 2022 EUV, its first electric car that you can drive hands-free, to its recall in August, General Motors said the cost could be as high as $1.8 billion.

At the time, GM had offered to replace all battery cells in recalled cars, but those efforts stalled because the company feared its battery supplier, LG, could not make products “defect-free”.

“We will not initiate recall repairs or begin building new Bolts until we are confident that LG will make the product defect-free,” said GM spokesman Dan Flores. Detroit Free-Press just a few days ago.

Before telling customers they were getting a new battery cell with better range and an eight-year warranty, GM only offered software repairs in June. But then the car that got the software fix kept on burning.

The plant where the Bolts are made is temporarily closed until at least September 6 as GM investigates the specific cause of the battery problem that caused the car fire.

Prior to the fiery scene in Sacramento, GM advised Bolt owners to only charge their batteries to 90 percent and not allow the charge to fall below the 70-mile range. That limits the used driver to at least 238 miles to 144 miles, or about 60 percent of capacity. The burning bolt from this new video has a charge time of 34 miles when it explodes.

The automaker also advises parking outside after charging and avoiding parking indoors overnight. Damian posted on Reddit that he usually charges at the ChargePoint Level 2 plug at the mall he works at and only “charges” to 85 percent every five days. Level 2 charging is the most common. This is the step above plugging into a wall outlet and the step below what’s called “fast charging.”

Bolt owners surveyed by the battery health platform EV Recurrent have difficulty adhering to fire prevention guidelines. It was repeatedly found that 30 percent of the 1,000 Chevy Bolt owners surveyed did not follow recall guidelines last week.

SEE ALSO:

Chevy paid me $33,000 after recalling my Bolt EV. This is how I get my money back.

Even though the 2017 car was part of the original recall, Damian did a software fix and continued to use the vehicle because he had no indication that anything was wrong before parking. On the morning of the fire, he wrote, “I woke up to my phone telling me my car needs attention from the myChevrolet app. I was walking to my car to go to work in the morning and found it that way.”

UPDATE: September 1, 2021, 9:33 am PDT This article has been updated to include comments from a General Motors spokesperson.

Leave a Comment