The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is shutting the books on its recent safety investigation into Chevrolet Volt battery packs when a few erupted into flames after crash tests. The verdict: Chevy Volts are just as likely to explode as any other cars.
Our bigger, smarter siblings at Consumer Reports say the NHTSA is all done with its investigation and that while Volts can catch fire, so can other vehicles. What a relief…?
“Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. Generally, all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash,” NHTSA concluded, adding that they remain “unaware of any real-world crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire involving the Chevy Volt or any other electric vehicle.”
The crash tests that resulted in fires were more severe than the standard ones NHTSA usually conducts. In one of the tests that resulted in a fire, it took more than one step and three weeks of the car sitting around to ignite the battery packs. After tests, General Motors would generally remove the battery packs from the cars.
The Volt was first slammed on its side into a pole, where the structure of the car broke through to the liquid-cooled battery pack. Then the car was rotated to simulate a rollover, which spread the coolant from a burst line onto a circuit board on the battery pack. The car was left out in the cold where the coolant crystallized, which created a short circuit, overheating the battery and causing the fire.
GM previously recalled Volts to make sure the structure surrounding the battery packs is stronger, in an attempt to lessen the likelihood that it would mess with the battery coolant system in a crash.
So hit the road! Just don’t hit anything else, roll your car, let it sit for weeks and expect it not to burst into flame.
Case closed: NHTSA ends Chevrolet Volt fire investigation [Consumer Reports]