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GM is looking to pull in all 8,000 Volts off the road as well as the 4,400 for sale

General Motors (GM) is launching a customer service campaign, which is similar to a recall, on 8,000 Chevrolet Volts running on U.S. roads in an effort to address possible battery fire issues.

In May 2011, Chevrolet's plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (EV), the Volt, caught fire three weeks after a side-impact crash test conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Volt was parked in a NHTSA testing facility in Wisconsin. The fire provoked an investigation into the safety of lithium batteries.

Later in November 2011, NHTSA conducted three more side-impact crash tests on three separate Volts. Two out of three ended up sparking or catching fire while the third remained normal.

GM took action right away, saying it will make any changes necessary to keep drivers safe. The automaker even offered loaner vehicles to Volt drivers that didn't feel safe in their vehicles, and said it'd buy Volts back from owners that requested to sell.

Now, GM is advising Volt owners to bring their EVs to the dealerships for a customer service campaign, which is like a recall but without the bad publicity attached. There are currently 8,000 Volts on U.S. roads and another 4,400 in showrooms for sale.

Dealers will address the battery issues by adding steel to the plate that protects the EV's T-shaped, 400-pound battery. This will prevent penetration into the battery in case of an auto accident, which will ultimately stop coolant from leaking. It will also evenly distribute the force of a crash.

NHTSA already tested Volts with the new added steel around the battery in December, and found that it was the right fix for the problem. However, it will continue to monitor the car for another week to make sure that it doesn't catch fire later on like the Volt back in May managed to do.

"The preliminary results of the crash test indicate the remedy proposed by General Motors today should address the issue," said NHTSA.

"We have tested the Volt's battery systems through [the equivalent of] 25 years of operation," said Mary Barra, GM's vice president for global product development. "We're taking these steps to provide peace of mind to our customers."

Sources: InsideBayArea, CNN

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RE: yikes...
By NellyFromMA on 1/6/2012 12:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a flop any more than the prius was when it first came out. In fact, this has somewhat more potential than Toyta's platform did and look how successful the Prius was after a decade or so.

Why do people RUSH to judgement. This is basically a flaw in a system that hasn't really been done before. I can safely say no one here does their job with 0% error. So, please, stop nay saying.... it's dumb.

RE: yikes...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/6/2012 12:28:47 PM , Rating: 1
The Volt exists because the Obama administration bailed GM out, owns 24% of the company (something that should NEVER happen here), and basically said that GM would make the Volt in exchange for the bailout.

Comparing this to the Prius is absurd. You wonder why GM and Volt is being harshly judged? It's pretty obvious. Do you realize the total cost of the Volt to the U.S taxpayer is $250,000, in terms of gov debt.

If the Prius tanked, okay well that would have been unfortunate. But it wouldn't have cost the U.S taxpayer or dragged a company into yet another eventual bailout. It's a totally different situation now.

This is basically a flaw in a system that hasn't really been done before.

Batteries are batteries. There's nothing unique to the Volt system in regards to how it responds to being wrecked compared to a Prius. Was there a Prius recall because they burst into flames after an accident? No, there wasn't.

RE: yikes...
By Jedi2155 on 1/6/2012 12:48:43 PM , Rating: 3
I can't believe you would use that $250,000 figure for the Volt considering how bad the math is on that number.

That figure was reached by assuming 100% of all government subsidies was utilized, despite some of them being business loan's spread out over 20 years, which means that business has to fail immediately right now in order for that figure to be accurate.

That's not to mention its based on 6142 volts sold instead of the 7500 or so that was sold in 2011 (8000 if you count the vehicles sold in 2010)

The Volt is not a high seller but 7500 cars in its 1st year is not yet flop *for a new technology* vehicle. If sales don't hit 20k at least in 2012, then I would call it a flop.

RE: yikes...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/6/2012 1:07:10 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not going to get drawn into a numbers game with you. That's a deflection. Would a debt of "only" $100,000 be some kind of awesome thing instead? I think you're missing the point.

Is the massive subsidy for these things bad math too?

That's not to mention its based on 6142 volts sold instead of the 7500 or so that was sold in 2011 (8000 if you count the vehicles sold in 2010)

Yes and look how many of those "sales" were Government fleet purchases! Hello McFly!? The true sales numbers of actual consumer purchases are abysmal!

The Volt is not a high seller but 7500 cars in its 1st year is not yet flop *for a new technology* vehicle.

The biggest buyer of Volt's just so happens to be the same organization with a 24% controlling interest in GM. The Federal Government! Hello?? How is this not crony capitalism and a flop?

RE: yikes...
By Black1969ta on 1/7/2012 2:24:46 AM , Rating: 3
Considering the Volt was well on its way to production when the Government bailed out Detroit, and that was before Obama took office!

For GM to bail on the plans to produce the "Volt", would cost the company more in lost R&D than the slow start that they face. In spite of the bailout debate the decision to proceed with the release of the Volt was a sound one.

the Government decision to subsidize all the hybrids is another matter altogether.

RE: yikes...
By Mint on 1/9/2012 12:14:22 PM , Rating: 1
What makes you think $100,000 is accurate?

The $250k number is pure bullshit. They assume loans being given out over many years (which would only be given out if certain production goals were met) were all taken out yesterday, spent, and will never be repaid. Then, they assume that no more Volts will ever be produced.

Divide the total subsidies by an estimated 60 million cars in the next 25+ years that are going to use this technology and its derivatives, and it becomes $25/car.

Just think about how ridiculous your assertion would be in the corporate world. How on earth do you get anything useful at all by divide all upfront costs for a factory by it's first year production?

RE: yikes...
By Alexvrb on 1/7/2012 6:10:30 PM , Rating: 3
Batteries are NOT batteries. Not even close. It's all about chemistry. The Volts are among the first to use more powerful Lithium ion batteries - specifically, Lithium manganese spinel oxide. They're the current best (overall) batteries for this kind of application, but they have some issues.

I believe 2011 and earlier Prius models used NiMH. Only the newest Prius plug-in uses a Li-ion battery pack, and it's much smaller and easier to protect than the pack in Volt and a few others. It may also be a slightly different chemistry. Tesla and Fisker also issued a recall over issues with their large Li-ion packs.

However Nissan has an air-cooled pack, not sure about longevity or exact chemistry, but they seem to have it bundled up and well protected. It still has the same underlying issues, but they've mitigated them well enough so far. Can't say how it will fare in very hot or very cold weather, but at least it seems to survive impacts well enough.

Regardless, various Lithium metal (such as iron or manganese) phosphate batteries can be dangerous in certain circumstances. But energy density is so much greater, they'll probably keep using it in flagship vehicles even if they have to reinforce the surrounding area more heavily in the future.

Oh, for hybrids/electrics that aren't as demanding, like the little Spark EV, they're using a different safer lithium phosphate chemistry. Doesn't have quite as good of an energy density, but I guess it meets their targets and is safer for such a small EV.

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