Jump to content
Create New...
  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Chevrolet Volt Fire Prompts Investgation Into Batteries


    gallery_10485_267_846364.png

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the safety of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles after a Chevrolet Volt caught on fire after a crash test three weeks earlier.

    The agency has asked all manufacturers who currently have electric vehicles on the road or plan to introduce one to provide information on the protocols they have established for discharging and handling their lithium-ion batteries, including how to lower risk of a fire. This is to

    NHTSA said it had investigated an incident involving a fire in a Chevy Volt after a crash test on May 12. The test involved a Chevrolet Volt crashing into a pole which caused the battery pack in the center tunnel and rear seat to crack. Then, NHTSA followed procedure to put the car on a rotisserie and rotate it 90 degrees every five minutes to see any fluid leakage. Coolant leaked out of the battery pack but the components stayed put.

    Three weeks after the test, the Volt caught on fire at NHTSA's storage facility in Wisconsin. NHTSA said the damage caused the fire.

    After the news, both NHTSA and General Motors both independently replicated the crash test and rotation. In both crashes, neither one could reproduce the conditions.

    GM spokesman Greg Martin said if NHTSA had followed certain protocols after the crash test, there would have been no fire.

    "We've developed very stringent safety protocols on the disposal and safe handling of the battery packs on the Chevy Volt. Those obviously were not followed in this case. GM also has also been unable to replicate the incident."

    NHTSA in a statement today said,

    “As manufacturers continue to develop vehicles of any kind -- electric, gasoline, or diesel -- it is critical that they take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of drivers and first responders both during and after a crash, Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, all vehicles -- both electric and gasoline-powered -- have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash.”

    The agency says the information from automakers will be used to inform emergency responders, tow-truck operators, salvage yards, and consumers about the risks and how to handle an EV in a accident.

    We'll be keeping a close eye on this story.

    Source: Bloomberg, Detroit News, Green Car Reports, Jalopnik

    Statement from GM on Page 2


    GM Statement in Response to NHTSA Investigation

    DETROIT – The following statement can be attributed Jim Federico, General Motors chief engineer for electric vehicles:

    “First and foremost, I want to make this very clear: the Volt is a safe car. We are working cooperatively with NHTSA as it completes its investigation. However, NHTSA has stated that based on available data, there’s no greater risk of fire with a Volt than a traditional gasoline-powered car.

    “Safety protocols for electric vehicles are clearly an industry concern. At GM, we have safety protocols to depower the battery of an electric vehicle after a significant crash.

    “We are working with other vehicle manufacturers, first responders, tow truck operators, and salvage associations with the goal of implementing industry-wide protocols.”

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Concerns me a bit working in the collision industry. Makes me want to keep them out of the shop for concern of not following protocol to the letter.

    I don't know why this got voted down... its totally true. There were several stories on the news today, and the reporters explained that this impacts the collision industry and salvage industry more than the end user. I think its a valid concern, at this point, to err on the side of caution, because no body shop needs their shop burned to the ground, losing a bunch of other customers' cars in the process... and our environment doesn't need anymore junkyard fires.

    Lithium batteries are not like lead acid, where the steel piercing the battery pack vaporizes after shorting the cells... instead the Lithium ion elements go into thermal runaway, until the unit catches fire... regardless if its a Prius, Volt or Leaf.

    Sounds like they didn't dispose of the battery pack properly.

    Well, no... typical of NHTSA, they saved the wreck for further study. Now they know not to do that.

    • Disagree 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    It was voted down because some greenie doesn't think about what happens... when green turns to a charred black and a livelihood is gone. What am I going to do, pick flowers for a living?

    • Disagree 4
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I don't drive a tow truck, I work in a bodyshop. We are not "first responders". This fire loss occurred a good while after the crash test... you know, when a car is likely sitting inside a bodyshop, torn down for a damage estimate.

    For something weird like this, I'd consult Alldata, I assume GM supplied them with the necessary info... but it's still daunting when one realizes how dangerous all electrified cars are after certain crashes. I do know that every stinkin' Prius we've worked on goes dead after being parked for several days, always need a jump box.

    If a gasoline-powered car is going to burn, it will do so at the scene as the fuel system is compromised and a spark or hot surface ignites the fuel. With these electric jobbies, the idea that degradation over several days can lead to fire is a legitimate concern.

    Edited by ocnblu
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    GM already put out a first responders information guide on the Volt many, many months ago. I have a copy that is too large in size to post here, but can email to anyone that would like it.

    I have a copy of that, as well. Maybe you guys should read it. It tells you about what cables to cut, where the Manual Service Disconnect is, etc... but NOWHERE does it mention that a pierced battery pack may cause a fire... either immediately, or in three weeks time.

    Time for greenie to rate me down for speaking the truth.

    • Agree 1
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I don't drive a tow truck, I work in a bodyshop. We are not "first responders". This fire loss occurred a good while after the crash test... you know, when a car is likely sitting inside a bodyshop, torn down for a damage estimate.

    For something weird like this, I'd consult Alldata, I assume GM supplied them with the necessary info... but it's still daunting when one realizes how dangerous all electrified cars are after certain crashes. I do know that every stinkin' Prius we've worked on goes dead after being parked for several days, always need a jump box.

    If a gasoline-powered car is going to burn, it will do so at the scene as the fuel system is compromised and a spark or hot surface ignites the fuel. With these electric jobbies, the idea that degradation over several days can lead to fire is a legitimate concern.

    Just because it works differently than how you are used to doesn't make it "bad."

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Just because it works differently than how you are used to doesn't make it "bad."

    I don't think anyone here is describing this as "bad" technology... but this is real problem with these battery packs and the car makers have obviously not informed enough people to the dangers of Lithium Ion batteries... otherwise, the NHTSA would have taken the appropriate action to protect the wreck.

    What is the appropriate action? Honestly, I don't see anyone suggesting a course of action. Removal of the battery pack immediately in _any_ accident for inspection? What if its damaged internally? Immediate recycling of the battery pack? Who even takes these yet? In any case, in order to reduce the damage of possible fire, the battery pack is required to be quarantined. That's space that costs money, if its a parking spot, a warehouse or a container being shipped overseas full of battery packs to be recycled.

    Obviously, this is a problem for the Volt first because it has the biggest battery pack... and therefore is most likely to be damaged. GM needs to ensure EVERYONE including owners, tow truck drivers, body shops, recyclers and used car lots to know the risk.

    Quite frankly, GM, all along has towed the party line of "electric cars are safe, safe, safe"... and that is somewhat misleading.

    Are other Li Ion battery devices being irresponsible? Sure... look at the exploding Dells a couple years ago... and Dell still does not really tell people about the dangers of damaging a battery pack, aside from a couple questionably understandable gyphs on the pack itself. Luckily, nobody has taken a shank to the laptop recently.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • google-news-icon.png



  • google-news-icon.png

  • Subscribe to Cheers & Gears

    Cheers and Gears Logo

    Since 2001 we've brought you real content and honest opinions, not AI-generated stuff with no feeling or opinions influenced by the manufacturers.

    Please consider subscribing. Subscriptions can be as little as $1.75 a month, and a paid subscription drops most ads.*
     

    You can view subscription options here.

    *a very limited number of ads contain special coupon deals for our members and will show

  • Community Hive Community Hive

    Community Hive allows you to follow your favorite communities all in one place.

    Follow on Community Hive
  • Posts

    • Yeah, it doesn’t pass the sniff test at all. No vehicle, not even a full size SUV, takes even 10 minutes to fill up much less 22. That doesn’t even qualify as making sense to believe it takes 22 minutes to fill up ANY vehicle that only has four tires on it. 
    • I've literally timed myself AND posted it here at one time. I don't know if your PNW nozzles are the size of a drinking straw, but it never takes more than 5 minutes at a pump.  You have lost your mind if you think you'll convince any human that you've stood at a pump for TWENTY-TWO MINUTES just filling up an Escalade. There a 100% chance you're lying if you're saying it took you 22 minutes to fill-up an Escalade from E every time.  Damn. 14 minutes. That's a good 9-10 minutes longer than it would take to fill-up most anything with a gasoline engine.  @Drew Dowdell, your Avalanche probably has the same or very similar size gas tank of an Escalade, right? Do you stand there for 20 minutes or more regularly? 
    • FUD - Unless your driving a subcompact, 5 minute fueling is not true. Compacts to Midsize to Full size can take from 8 to 22 minutes to fuel. If the filters of the gas station are dirty, it can take longer. Yes I realize not everyone drives an Escalade ESV, but that is 22 minutes of standing and fueling at Costco, longer at other stations it seem to be. Yes, I spent a few minutes waiting, but over all I got all my shopping done, so a few minutes was no different than at a gas station. I charged this morning for the wife, was 52 degrees outside and the 350kW Electrify America charger did the 80% charge from 14% in 15 minutes and then I left to go get the grandkids and drop them off at school, so the 10 to 80% charge is fast as my Escalade.
    • You just said you still had to wait a few minutes after you were done shopping. That few minutes is all it takes to go from E -> F in an internal combustion vehicle. Until you're charging at home, overnight, there is no real savings or convenience involved. Once your free trial period of public charging has expired, it costs about the same to charge publicly at those fast chargers.  At home charging is really the only way to save money and time with an EV, when it comes to fuel costs. 
  • Who's Online (See full list)

    • There are no registered users currently online
  • My Clubs

×
×
  • Create New...

Hey there, we noticed you're using an ad-blocker. We're a small site that is supported by ads or subscriptions. We rely on these to pay for server costs and vehicle reviews.  Please consider whitelisting us in your ad-blocker, or if you really like what you see, you can pick up one of our subscriptions for just $1.75 a month or $15 a year. It may not seem like a lot, but it goes a long way to help support real, honest content, that isn't generated by an AI bot.

See you out there.

Drew
Editor-in-Chief

Write what you are looking for and press enter or click the search icon to begin your search

Change privacy settings