Recently, the batteries in several of GM’s Chevrolet Volts caught fire in crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This has led to a formal safety investigation into the possibility of auto defects involving the lithium-ion batteries used in the Volt, the way the batteries are mounted and other issues. Lithium-ion batteries are known to be explosive, especially upon impact.
According to NHTSA, fires occurred in several Chevy Volts after crash tests were performed. In one case, a fire in one of the test vehicles went on to destroy two others that were parked nearby.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fires occurred in several Chevy Volts after crash tests were performed. In one case, a fire in one of the test vehicles went on to destroy two others that were parked nearby.
The fires apparently do not occur immediately upon impact, but only if the battery was not drained before or shortly after the crash. In the case that initiated the NHTSA probe, the test vehicle was crashed but the fire didn’t start until three weeks later.
In the meantime, if GM is made aware of a crash, the company will send a technician to the crash site to drain the vehicle’s battery before it can catch fire. GM is also offering free loaner vehicles for Volt owners who prefer not to drive their vehicles until the auto defect is explained and repaired.
What happens if GM cannot get to the accident scene in time? Or what if for some reason, GM does not realize a Volt was in an accident?
GM wants to assure the approximately 6,000 Chevy Volt owners that the cars are safe, and it will be contacting customers with the message that their cars will not spontaneously catch fire, even after a car accident.
“Our customers’ peace of mind is the most important thing. This technology should inspire confidence and pride, not raise any concern or doubt,” said the president of GM North America. In the case of a potentially dangerous auto defect, however, perhaps the most important thing is safety.
Source: Star Tribune, “GM offering free loaners to owners of Volts,” Jerry Hirsch, Nov. 28, 2011