We’ve heard of EV battery fires; who hasn’t? Windshield wipers and heated seats have both been tied to vehicular immolation, but seatbelts? That’s a new one. This one comes our way care of GM’s all-electric Bolt EV, which previously made the news for old-fashioned, lithium-ion fueled flame-ups. This time around, it’s being recalled because the seatbelt pretensioners can ignite nearby carpet after deploying in an accident, which could be incredibly dangerous for incapacitated passengers.
This is a bit of a corner case, but one that GM feels compelled to report and address. Hey, if there’s fire involved, you don’t have to tell us twice. GM’s defect notice to NHTSA says it will recall 111,242 examples of the 2027-2023 Bolt EV (but not the EUV; its seatbelts use a different pretensioner configuration) to install a metal foil to protect the carpet from the pretensioner exhaust should it ever have to deploy. This change has already been implemented in production and vehicles built after October 25 of this year.
“This issue was submitted to GM’s Speak Up For Safety (SUFS) program on September 15, 2022, following a report of a 2018 model year Chevrolet Bolt EV in Korea that experienced a fire appearing to have originated in the right-side lower B-pillar area. GM opened an investigation on October 24, 2022,” GM’s notice said. “GM’s investigation identified a total of three potentially relevant field incidents in the subject vehicles involving exhaust from a deployed pretensioner igniting carpet fibers near the B-pillar. GM received notice of these claims on May 26, 2021, August 29, 2022, and October 17, 2022. On December 8, 2022, GM’s Safety Field Action Decision Authority (SFADA) decided to conduct a safety recall.”
Owners should be notified of the issue starting in January; expect a notice with instructions to arrive by the end of the month.