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
11/29/2011 8:11:09 PM
There's no lithium metal in a lithium-ion battery. Just lithium compounds, that don't act so much like alkalai metals.
As already noted, what burns is the organic solvent electrolyte, followed by the anode and cathode materials.
The number one thing in fighting a fire in a large lithium-ion pack is to keep the fire from propagating from one or a few cells, to a few hundred or few thousand cells. The way you do that is exactly what the article said... lots of water. Not to put out the fire per se, but to cool things off and keep adjacent cells from getting hot enough to 'cook off'.
There are some FAA training videos out on the web somewhere about dealing with laptop battery fires, that say basically the same thing. Water, lots of it, try to get things cooled off.
"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007
Gov't Report Warns of Chinese Plans to Cripple U.S. Space Defenses
November 17, 2011, 7:13 PM
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
Tesla to Show Off EV Battery Swap Tech This Week
June 18, 2013, 10:34 AM
Ford Replaces Human Test Drivers with Robots for New Trucks
June 17, 2013, 10:03 AM
Bosch Selling $3,000 Wireless EV Charging System
June 14, 2013, 2:51 PM
GM CEO Announces Plans to Offer 4G Internet in Most 2015 Model Year Vehicles
June 14, 2013, 8:30 AM
New Jersey Bill Would Allow Cops to Search Your Cell Phone Messages, Calls After Crash
June 12, 2013, 4:30 PM
Ford Won't Upgrade New Focus Electric, Has Only Sold 1,400 Since '11 Launch
June 12, 2013, 3:54 PM
Most Popular Articles
Source: Don't Worry, NSA Spies on "99 Percent" of Americans' Locations, Call Records
June 14, 2013, 3:57 PM
Xbox Chief: If You Can't Get Online, Don't Buy an Xbox One
June 12, 2013, 9:57 AM
GigaHertz Wars 2.0? AMD Releases World's First 5.0 GHz FX Processor
June 11, 2013, 3:16 PM
Former Palm CEO: Selling Palm to HP was a Waste
June 12, 2013, 10:19 AM
Report: Apple to Release Larger iPhone Screens, Cheaper iPhone for $99
June 13, 2013, 9:41 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Lumosity: Does it Work?
May 22, 2013, 8:20 PM
Quick Note: Sony "Teases" PS4 Ahead of Xbox Reveal in New Video
May 20, 2013, 12:33 PM
Nokia Introduces Instagram-Like App of Its Own to Help Lumia Sales
May 20, 2013, 7:10 AM
Parents of Pre-Teen Drivers Commonly Practice Distracted Driving Says Study
May 9, 2013, 7:16 AM
Apple's iOS 7 Running Into Internal Delays Due to Massive Overhaul
May 1, 2013, 4:26 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information