A Virginia woman got the attention of General Motors and federal regulators after she turned to her local news station to describe how her 2019 Chevy Bolt spontaneously combusted when it was parked and turned off.
Hajime Rojas of Fairfax told Washington DC’s ABC7/WJLA that she was at a family get together at her parents’ house on the Fourth of July when her Chevy Bolt went up in smoke.
“I was seeing smoke just growing and growing and getting bigger and bigger behind the car,” she told 7 On Your Side. “When you see that, I mean you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Ms. Rojas owned the $43,000 electric car for just 18 months when the incident happened. She called 911 and firefighters were dispatched to the scene.
While there were no flames visible, the heat was strong enough to melt the back of the car. Her insurance company ultimately declared the vehicle to be a total loss and had it hauled to a scrap yard.
According to ABC7, firefighters didn’t say what caused the fire, but they wanted to know where the lithium-ion battery in her car was located. While the battery is located under the hood in the front of the vehicle, there is a large 400A 500V fuse mounted in a lever-latched disconnect under the rear-seat cushions. All of the electrical current from the car’s battery runs through this component.
Other consumers have reported manual service disconnects overheating and melting in the rear of their Chevy Bolts, but the issue hasn’t grabbed the attention of GM or federal regulators until Ms. Rojas spoke up.
After finding that several other Chevy Bolts have been destroyed by fires, Ms. Rojas asked General Motors to investigate the problem. They initially refused, telling her that it was in the hands of her insurance company, but she persisted.
After Ms. Rojas contacted ABC7, 7 On Your Side reporters inquired about the issue to GM and the automaker agreed to investigate.
Ms. Rojas also managed to put the Chevy Bolt problem on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s radar. NHTSA regulators told WJLA that they are aware of Ms. Roja’s incident and are evaluating it.
Beasley Allen lawyers Clay Barnett, in our Atlanta office, and Mitch Williams in the Montgomery office represent plaintiffs in class action litigation involving defective auto products. They are currently handling a lawsuit involving full-size GM trucks and SUVs that experience sudden unnecessary “phantom braking” when there is no obstacle present. They also are currently working on claims involving Ford F150 trucks that suffer a loss of brakes due to a master cylinder defect.
Additional source: WeberAuto