Chevrolet Volt Flunks Two Out of Three Crash Tests, Triggers Formal Investigation
November 28, 2011 9:44 AM
comment(s) - last by
NHTSA says it is too soon to recall vehicles or parts
As promised, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into the safety of lithium batteries after a
caught fire back in May. After conducting three different tests two weeks ago, the NHTSA found that the Volt's battery either caught fire or began to smoke in two out of the three.
General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt underwent several tests in a NHTSA Wisconsin facility earlier this year. On May 12, 2011, it experienced the side-impact crash test. Three weeks later, the plug-in electric vehicle (EV) caught fire while parked in the NHTSA testing center.
The fire, which was fierce enough to burn other vehicles parked nearby, prompted an investigation of the Chevrolet Volt and the safety of lithium batteries.
The NHTSA conducted side-impact crash tests for the Chevrolet Volt on November 16, 17 and 18. After each test, the batteries of the three separate Volts were then rotated 180 degrees. Out of the three tests, two resulted in fire, smoke or sparks while one remained normal.
The November 16 test had normal results, while the November 17 test led to a battery fire one week later and the November 18 test caused the battery to smoke and emit sparks. The battery packs of the three Volts were not drained after any of the crashes.
The results have led to a formal investigation of the safety of the Chevrolet Volt and its lithium battery.
"While it is too soon to tell whether the investigation will lead to a recall of any vehicles or parts, if NHTSA identifies an unreasonable risk to safety, the agency will take immediate action to notify consumers and ensure that GM communicates with current vehicle owners," said NHTSA.
GM has said that it launched a system where first responders immediately depower the battery of a Chevrolet Volt after a severe crash. This is safety protocol because lithium batteries can catch fire if the internal cells or the battery case are pierced by steel or another ferrous metal. Even the slightest piercing of the battery can lead to a reaction days or weeks later.
"The Volt is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash," said GM after the NHTSA's tests this month. "GM and the agency's focus and research continue to be on battery performance, handling, storage and disposal after a crash or other significant event, like a fire, to better serve first- and secondary-responders."
NHTSA and GM have both said that they are unaware of any battery-related fires caused by roadway crashes involving customers. However, NHTSA advised
to remain cautious in the event of a crash as they would in a gasoline or diesel-fueled vehicle. The NHTSA's advice includes stepping out of the car and moving away from it while contacting authorities. When responders arrive, they are to check for markings that it is an EV and use large amounts of water on the vehicle if there are any signs of a fire. They are to then contact experts at the vehicle's manufacturer on how to discharge a propulsion battery.
There are currently 6,000 Volt owners on the roads, but the number of EVs cruising around in the U.S. is expected to increase because U.S. President Barack Obama is looking to
put 1 million EVs on the roads by 2015
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
11/28/2011 10:20:59 AM
I think the biggest problem is that these fires and issues happen some time after the accident, with no apparent immediate reaction. With a gas vehicle, either the tank is breached or it isn't, and a problem is pretty obvious.
While there probably could be increased monitoring of the pack to help determine if there is an issue, this is a procedural problem. If you get into an accident in an electric car, the battery needs to be inspected, simple as that. Just because a gas powered car can be considered okay if there's not an immediate fire doesn't mean that's true of all vehicles.
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
CA Volt Drivers to Receive $1,500 Rebate, HOV Access; GM Charges EVs via Solar Tree
November 17, 2011, 10:45 AM
Chevrolet Volt Has Best-Ever Sales Month in October
November 2, 2011, 9:42 AM
Obama Aims for $10k EVs, 20,000+ Charging Stations, and 1M EVs by 2015
July 14, 2010, 10:01 AM
Quick Note: Toyota Attempts to Erase “Boring” Image with ’15 Camry SE Hybrid
April 16, 2014, 11:36 AM
Mazda Bringing SKYACTIV Tech to Miata, Trims 220 Pounds from Chassis
April 16, 2014, 11:20 AM
Direct Auto Sales Bill Fizzles Out in Arizona Senate; Tesla Motors Will Try Again
April 15, 2014, 7:00 PM
BMW Concept X5 eDrive Uses Plug-In Hybrid Tech
April 14, 2014, 9:03 AM
GM Invests $449 Million USD in Future Electric Vehicles, Batteries
April 9, 2014, 2:27 PM
Bentley Shows Off Plug-in Hybrid Concept Destined for '17 SUV Project
April 9, 2014, 8:53 AM
Most Popular Articles
Cities to Carpoolers: Sharing Your Car is Illegal, We Will Seize Your Cars
April 4, 2014, 9:17 PM
Taiwan's AOU Claims to Have World's Highest-Res. OLED Smartphone Display
April 11, 2014, 1:44 PM
iPad Exploiter is Freed by Federal Appeals Court
April 11, 2014, 7:40 PM
It's Very Likely Neanderthals and Humans Had Sex, Produced Offspring
April 10, 2014, 8:40 PM
Cops at Historically Troubled LAPD are Sabotaging Digital Recording Devices
April 9, 2014, 11:10 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information