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The recent battery fires caused by NHTSA crash tests have some Volt owners worried about their safety

General Motors' Chevrolet Volt has had some battery issues lately that need to be ironed out with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but until those troubles are resolved, GM is offering a Volt owner loan program.

Earlier this year, the Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, underwent a series of crash tests at a NHTSA facility in Wisconsin. Three weeks after a side-impact crash test on May 12, a Volt caught fire while parked at the testing facility. The incident prompted the NHTSA to launch an investigation of the safety of the Chevrolet Volt and lithium batteries.

Just two weeks ago, the NHTSA conducted three more side-impact tests with three separate Volts over the course of November 16, 17 and 18. The November 16 test went well with no complications, but the November 17 test resulted in a fire one week after the test. The November 18 test resulted in smoke and sparks emitting from the battery.

The test results have caused Volt customers to worry about their safety when using the EV. According to The Detroit News, GM has only received about 10 calls from Volt owners regarding the safety issues, but none of them have requested a new vehicle.

But that isn't stopping GM from offering a Volt owner loan program anyway in order to ease the minds of its customers. The new program will allow concerned Volt owners to contact their Volt advisor and obtain a replacement GM vehicle until the Volt issues are dealt with.

"A vehicle loan program of this nature is well beyond the norm for a preliminary investigation, and it underlines our commitment to the vehicle and its owners," said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. "These steps are the right ones to take regardless of any immediate impact on our operations."

In addition to the Volt owner loan program, GM has announced that it is working with the NHTSA on possible changes to better protect the battery pack in the event of an accident. If a battery pack is pierced by steel or another ferrous metal, the hot lithium will cause a fire if not handled properly or drained.

"We're working with NHTSA so we all have an understanding about these risks and how they can be avoided in the future," said Mary Barra, senior vice president of GM Global Product Development. "This isn't just a Volt issue. We're already leading a joint electric vehicle activity with Society of Automotive Engineers and other automotive companies to address new issues, such as this protocol of depowering batteries after a severe crash."

Sources: General Motors Co., The Detroit News

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"This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Performance Fanboi on 11/29/2011 11:36:05 AM , Rating: 2
Of course it isn't, that's why we have been hearing about so many other electric vehicles catching fire lately. Oh wait...nevermind.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By danjw1 on 11/29/2011 12:02:44 PM , Rating: 2
Not all electrics are using Lithium Ion batteries like the Volt does. So this is particular to cars with that kind of battery, not all electrics.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By quiksilvr on 11/29/2011 12:21:59 PM , Rating: 2
That's a load of crap. The Tesla and Leaf both use Lithium Ion batteries.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By rika13 on 11/29/2011 12:58:49 PM , Rating: 1
Don't know about the Leaf, but the Tesla batteries are actually cell phone batteries, lots of them. Puncturing one or a dozen isn't a big deal compared to a large battery with a lot of juice in it.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By quiksilvr on 11/29/2011 2:07:08 PM , Rating: 3
You are wrong in many many ways.

The ESS contains 6,831 lithium ion cells arranged into 11 "sheets" connected in series; each sheet contains 9 "bricks" connected in series; each "brick" contains 69 cells connected in parallel (11S 9S 69P). The cells are of the 18650 form-factor commonly found in laptop batteries. The pack is designed to prevent catastrophic cell failures from propagating to adjacent cells, even when the cooling system is off. Coolant is pumped continuously through the ESS both when the car is running and when the car is turned off if the pack retains more than a 90% charge. The coolant pump draws 146 watts.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By tng on 11/30/2011 9:38:00 AM , Rating: 2
The pack is designed to prevent catastrophic cell failures from propagating to adjacent cells...
So what you are saying is that Tesla took the unstable nature of the batteries into account in their design.

Again, seems GM design or assembly has fallen short. This is not really a surprise, but for something that they have hyped so much and took so much federal money for development, you think that they would have done a better job.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Samus on 11/29/2011 1:03:16 PM , Rating: 2
A) There are more Volts than Roadster's and Leaf's on the road.

B) Ordinary people drive a Volt, the only vehicle with a Li-Ion battery pack that can be practically used by anybody as a daily driver. Jay Leno has like 20k on his Volt already. That's a LOT of driving.

C) It's common sense to disconnect the vehicle battery after a bad crash. The NHSTA admit to disconnecting the main 12v lead-acid battery, but not the battery pack. They mishandled the aftermath of the crash test. This may not be relevent as to why the battery exploded, but since even federal safety officials are idiots, GM should consider an inertia switch for the battery, much like all vehicles have had an inertia switch for fuel cut-off since the 70's.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Dr of crap on 11/29/2011 1:29:53 PM , Rating: 1
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.
I think of myself as an ordinary person, and I could NOT afford the VOLT. And I do not want batteries used to propell my car as a daily driver!

Your standards need ajusting!

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Masospaghetti on 11/29/2011 2:05:47 PM , Rating: 4
An ordinary person can't afford a $40k Volt...but that $40k Tahoe or Suburban, well that's no problem.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Dr of crap on 11/29/2011 3:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
I can't afford ANY $40k car.
Not had one over $12k yet!

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Jedi2155 on 11/29/2011 3:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
You should look into ways to increase your income then if that is your prerogative. The Volt right now still has a very limited demographic due to the cost as we all know, but the price will go down significantly by the next revision (they're were considering deleting the water cooling requirement).

First it needs to survive the news press.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By tng on 11/30/2011 9:45:48 AM , Rating: 2
First it needs to survive the news press.
So you think that this news is unfair?

I agree with the Doctor of Crap, $40K is to much money for a car, especially for commuting. A $40K car is not something that I want to drive 100+ miles every day. That gives a GM car about a 5 year lifetime in my experience. Best bet is to do what allot of people do is to buy used.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Masospaghetti on 11/29/2011 3:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
Are you suggesting that ordinary people can't afford cars over $12k? Those Versas should be selling by the millions!

By Dr of crap on 11/30/2011 12:30:22 PM , Rating: 2
A lOT can't!
What with car payments that are too high, cost of insurance, add in daycare that is as much as a house payment, now the house payments, and then all those lattes from Starbucks, you got one big strain on a majority of people and most just squeak by.

I've not gone over $12k for a car because a car is NOT an investment and should NOT cost me that much to get from point A to point B. If you think you need a new car every 5 years and are willing to pony up that extra cash, go right ahead.

I'll come in a buy up the used cars by those that want the "shiny new one", save money, have as many bells and whistles as those shiny new ones, and not spend myself to death!

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By RU482 on 11/29/2011 3:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
what kind of Doctor can't afford a Volt? :)

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By seamonkey79 on 11/29/2011 5:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently a Doctor of Crap (tm)

By Bad-Karma on 11/30/2011 3:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
You should see how much they charge for a colonoscopy....

For that kind of price you think you'd at least get the common courtesies of a reach-around.....

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By rountad on 12/1/2011 1:31:51 PM , Rating: 2
I think that he meant that if you drive an electric car, it would be a Volt if you're a normal person. The Roadster and Leaf are not as mainstream.

By rountad on 12/1/2011 1:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mean that I agree, though...

By quiksilvr on 11/29/2011 2:37:36 PM , Rating: 2
As of July 2011, more than 6,000 Leafs had been delivered in Japan, more than 700 units in the UK as of August 2011,and 8,066 units sold in the US through October 2011. Worldwide cumulative sales since December 2010 reached 16,600 units by October 2011.

Since deliveries began in December 2010, General Motors has sold 5,329 Volts through October 2011 (in the US)

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Wulven on 11/29/2011 2:43:33 PM , Rating: 2
Where are you getting your data that there are more Volts on the Road than Leaf's or Tesla Roadsters? The Leaf was outselling the Volt all year almost 2 to 1 in some months until November. October YTD sales I can find say 7200 Leafs vs 3895 Volts.

By Jedi2155 on 11/29/2011 3:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
My last count of US PEV sales as of 10/31/2011
5329 - Volts
8067 - Leafs

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Masospaghetti on 11/29/2011 1:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
How can you expect a battery pack, that holds 16 kilowatt hours of energy, to be left unattended for 2 or 3 weeks after a crash and expect any different result?

In other news, the Tesla Roadster manages to catch on fire without even being in a crash, and yet nobody notices:

The Volt gets so much publicity is because so many people want it to fail, for no good reason.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Dr of crap on 11/29/11, Rating: -1
RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Masospaghetti on 11/29/2011 2:03:52 PM , Rating: 5
1- It's over priced, and it doesn't need to be

Define need. You act like they are making a huge profit on the car. FWIW, new technology is expensive and GM isn't making a penny on any of them.

2- When it's not sold anymore it will stop being in the news every day "for no good reason"

This is a good reason for wanting the Volt to fail? Because you don't want it in the news?

3- Toyota does it for cheaper - I know you'll say the Prius and the Volt are not the same, but basically it is. Ask any one and they'll have a hard time telling you the difference.

You mean their $39,995 PHEV Prius? Surely you don't mean their regular Prius, which has about a 1 mile EV range (in other words, 35x less EV range)

4- Stop trying to FORCE these EV/hybrids on us. If there was a market for them, they would sell. They do not sell in big numbers. FOR SOME the Volt works, but stop trying to make this car for eveyrone!

Nobody is forcing EVs on you. If you don't want it, 99% of the other cars being sold are not EV. But likewise, don't force EVs out of the market for stupid reasons, such as not following common-sense safety practices.

5- It's a freaking car and will not change the world!

What a great attitude to have towards innovation.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Dr of crap on 11/29/11, Rating: -1
By Masospaghetti on 11/29/2011 3:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's nothing to do if I liked your reasons. You gave 5 reasons the Volt should fail, and they all sucked.

By MaulBall789 on 11/29/2011 4:03:57 PM , Rating: 1
Geez, dude, take a pill. It's been in the news for the past few days because of this fire issue. Other than that I've seen all of a few tv ads for this car and it really hasn't been intrusive into everyone's daily life. It's GM's job to make it generally known that this vehicle is commercially available and it's different from nearly every other vehicle out there for the time being. Unless you're physically glued to every bit of news concerning the auto industry, you're making more out of your "inundated" situation than there is. If they really wanted to force this car on the public GM would need the government to mandate that every person buy this and only this car. I don't see that happening any time soon.

Quit your bitchin. You've made your point about not liking the car. We get it. Move along.

By Black1969ta on 11/30/2011 3:36:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yea, Volt lover, I only suggested my distaste for the Volt. I didn't ask you if you LIKED my reasons! AND YES, I do hate it in the news everyday. It's kind of like a political ad when it's election time. Every ad is about some freaking guy running for office. I do not need a daily update on a car that isn't selling as well as the maker thinks it should! Makes we want it even LESS!

So along that train of though(or lack there of) are you still holding onto hope that "Barbie" and "Hot Wheels" will fail because they advertise them all the time too?
Dr. I think your PhD just got P iled h igher and D eeper!

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Black1969ta on 11/30/2011 3:28:20 AM , Rating: 2
5- It's a freaking car and will not change the world!

Isn't that what wagon builders said about the steam car and then especially about Henry Ford's "automobile"?

People and their fear of change crack me up, just wait til the neighbor of this guy comes home in a hovercar!

"Phshaw,If god had wanted us to fly to work he would have made hot air balloons affordable for everyone, I'm happy with my old PEV!"

By Dr of crap on 12/1/2011 9:01:49 AM , Rating: 2
I'd buy a hovercar, but not the Volt.

RE: "This isn't just a Volt issue..."
By Reclaimer77 on 11/29/2011 5:33:27 PM , Rating: 1
The Volt gets so much publicity is because so many people want it to fail, for no good reason.

Sounds like you're projecting here bud. First off, the taxpayers are helping subsidize every Volt sale. That is wrong and in these harsh economic times of course it breeds resentment.

Secondly the Volt was Obama's PR machine right after he bent the taxpayers over, again, and bought GM. Opps, I mean "bailed out" the company. There's something downright unsettling about seeing the President of the country, during near depression economic levels, so concerned about selling vehicles for the company he just used taxpayer money bailing out.

The "Occupy" crowd aren't the only ones out there angry, you know. Millions of people are out there busting their asses for their families while the President puts us further and further in debt, and then you turn the TV on and see him essentially launching an advertising campaign for a GM vehicle? On our backs? All to score political points! Something stinks about the whole thing and I'm sorry if you can't see it.

We don't want the Volt to fail, it's just that in our minds, it already has. When the Volt, as well as GM, can stand on it's own then we'll reevaluate things. You don't seem to understand that GM took our money, and right or wrong, they are being graded on a curve. Bad publicity like this simply adds fuel to the fire. Sorry that I have to hit you with a reality check, but that's just the way it is.

By Dr of crap on 12/1/2011 9:03:29 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you for filling what I failed to get across to this guy!

By drycrust3 on 12/1/2011 1:08:30 AM , Rating: 2
that's why we have been hearing about so many other electric vehicles catching fire lately.

I suspect a fair percentage of the current range of vehicles that catch fire after a crash have some sort of short circuit (i.e. inadequate fusing and use of circuit breakers) as the reason for the vehicle catching fire. I think a lot of the problems with the Volt would largely disappear if there was better fusing and better shock protection inside the battery.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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