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    GM Offering Free Loaner Cars to Volt Owners During Battery Investigation



    Today, General Motors announced that it will provide a loaner to any Chevrolet Volt owner concerned about the safety of their vehicle. The announcement comes a few days after NHTSA announced an investigation into the Chevrolet Volt's batteries after tests done by NHTSA have cause the batteries to catch on fire.

    GM says they will try to contact every Volt owner to attempt to clear up the confusion. GM has sold 5,329 Volts and each owner should receive a letter within the next few days.

    “We are contacting all Volt owners to assure them and reassure them the car is safe to drive. The Volt is our pride and joy and we will do all we can to make Volt owners as happy with it as we can,” said Mark Reuss, head of General Motors North America, in a conference call with reporters.

    Press Release is on Page 2


    GM Builds on Battery Safety to Ensure Confidence in Chevrolet Volt

    • Customer safety, satisfaction remain highest priority
    • Volt owners offered alternative GM vehicle loans for peace of mind
    • Senior GM engineering team to work with NHTSA on possible changes

    2011-11-28 - DETROIT - General Motors announced Monday initiatives for customer satisfaction and battery safety research to ensure ongoing confidence in the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.

    The initiatives follow six months of research and testing in the United States with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designed to induce electric vehicle battery failure after severe crash situations.

    The agency advised GM on Friday that it would open a preliminary evaluation of Volt battery assemblies after NHTSA test results caused electrical fires up to three weeks after an initial vehicle New Car Assessment Program side pole crash test.

    Mark Reuss, president, GM North America, said the company would take every precaution to assure the driving public of GM’s commitment to the safety of the Volt being handled after a severe incident and the total satisfaction of everyone who owned one.

    “The Volt is a five-star safety car. Even though no customer has experienced in the real world what was identified in this latest testing of post-crash situations, we're taking critical steps to ensure customer satisfaction and safety,” Reuss said.

    “Our customers' peace of mind is too important to us for there to be any concern or any worry. This technology should inspire confidence and pride, not raise any concern or doubt.

    “The question is about how to deal with the battery days and weeks after a severe crash, making it a matter of interest not just for the Volt, but for our industry as we continue to advance the pursuit of electric vehicles.”

    Senior GM engineering investigation team

    Mary Barra, senior vice president, Global Product Development, said GM had established a senior engineering team to develop changes to eliminate concern of potential post-crash electrical fires and work with industry to ensure appropriate electric vehicle protocols were in place. Barra said such electrical fires had not occurred on public roads and NHTSA was not investigating any such potential imminent failure on the roads.

    “GM and the agency's focus and research continue to be on the performance, handling, storage and disposal of batteries after a crash or other significant event,” she said.

    “We’re working with NHTSA so we all have an understanding about these risks and how they can be avoided in the future. 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.”

    Barra said the team would continue to work closely with NHTSA, suppliers, dealers and manufacturing teams to initiate any necessary changes as soon as possible.

    Volt owner loan program

    Reuss said GM would establish a Volt owner satisfaction program. Any Volt owner concerned about safety can contact his or her Volt advisor to arrange for a free GM vehicle loan until resolution of the issue.

    “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,” he said. “These steps are the right ones to take regardless of any immediate impact on our operations.”

    Launched in late 2010, the Chevrolet Volt has won more than 30 awards in the United States and other markets. The Volt achieved a five-star NCAP overall vehicle score for safety by the NHTSA and is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. GM carried out more than 1 million test miles in vehicle development.

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    Just another case of a over reactive goverment agency and press.

    When you have any damaged electical item you unplug it. Same goes for the Volt as GM has stated. Besides odds are unless you hit a tree or pole and some how find a way to get the car home the owner will never see a fire.

    GM did all they could do in the position they were put into again by a bunch of clueless people.

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    When you have any damaged electical item you unplug it. Same goes for the Volt as GM has stated. Besides odds are unless you hit a tree or pole and some how find a way to get the car home the owner will never see a fire.

    Oh, really? Please explain how you can unplug a battery pack that is internally shorted and going into thermal runaway?

    You're also making a major assumption that one has to have an accident to have the battery pack damaged. What about the person who runs over a board with some nails in just the right way... or some steel shrapnel on the highway... people run this over and if the car doesn't immediately stop working, they forget about it... or even someone looking for revenge with a screwdriver and a hammer? Sure, gas tanks have been slashed open... and its an immediate, obvious danger... taking a spike or a piece of rebar to the battery pack and the driver may never know.

    Overall, I still think the danger is fairly low to Volt owners, but its not something that can be simply dismissed as easily as "just unplug it". And I think the dangers to impound yards, bodyshops and junkyards is much greater, since damaged Volts will be parked there awaiting repair, lawsuits and/or dismantling. Junkyard fires are no joke, and I'm sure that GM's program of giving loaner cars will help no junkyard owner sleep at night.

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    When you have any damaged electical item you unplug it. Same goes for the Volt as GM has stated. Besides odds are unless you hit a tree or pole and some how find a way to get the car home the owner will never see a fire.

    Oh, really? Please explain how you can unplug a battery pack that is internally shorted and going into thermal runaway?

    You're also making a major assumption that one has to have an accident to have the battery pack damaged. What about the person who runs over a board with some nails in just the right way... or some steel shrapnel on the highway... people run this over and if the car doesn't immediately stop working, they forget about it... or even someone looking for revenge with a screwdriver and a hammer? Sure, gas tanks have been slashed open... and its an immediate, obvious danger... taking a spike or a piece of rebar to the battery pack and the driver may never know.

    Overall, I still think the danger is fairly low to Volt owners, but its not something that can be simply dismissed as easily as "just unplug it". And I think the dangers to impound yards, bodyshops and junkyards is much greater, since damaged Volts will be parked there awaiting repair, lawsuits and/or dismantling. Junkyard fires are no joke, and I'm sure that GM's program of giving loaner cars will help no junkyard owner sleep at night.

    What if one gets hit with falling space junk and aliens shoot the battery with a ray gun?

    Relax GM and the industry are still learning and dealing with issues that they could not or did not cover. Also the many haters and lawyers are looking for ways to hurt or make a profit from any angle they can.

    I should not have said unplugged as much as discharge the battery as GM already has stated should be done.

    Like many things in the auto industry many of them have to be done differently anymore. The way we deal with fuel system, change brakes and even rotate tires we not have to reset the pressure sensors. Even jump starting a car much car needs to be taken as you can wipe out a simple fuse for the power steering or even damage the flash memory in the computer.

    This fire thing is much like the Fiero. Yes some did catch fire but few peope ever understood why. It was a simple fix but even GM tied to ignore it vs dealing with it. While there was an issue there were many other cars with a higher fire rate that we never heard about. Again thanks to the press and their selective attacks over the years on some cars do more damage than good. Few reporters really know the first thing about cars.

    The Leaf uses nearly the same type of battery but no one has even brought it up. Tesla uses a large number of lap top batteries too that are similar to the one that have caught fire in the past but where is the inquiry?

    Electric cars are not much different from say a I phone. They learn and update with each new model and year. Even updates will be applied to the Volt in due time. It is almost to the point I would not be suprised if they forgo the year and just call new models Volt 2.0 and 3.0S.

    Note GM has already been pro active in working with safety and fire crews to train them how to deal with these cars already. As for junk yards I expect GM plans on taking most of the batteries back as they are still useful after the car is done. They plan to use them for storage batteries and I would assume they already have those deals in place to make sure there are none in a junk yard or going to a crusher.

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    What if one gets hit with falling space junk and aliens shoot the battery with a ray gun?

    The difference here is that cars DO get into minor accidents and drive home. Cars DO run over sharp debris. I had some debris slash open the floor of my car without my knowledge.

    If you think this is on par with aliens shooting your battery with ray guns, then you are less bound to reality than SMK.

    I should not have said unplugged as much as discharge the battery as GM already has stated should be done.

    And where is this written? And how? After the fire department gets done hacking apart every fat power cable on your $40K Volt, how do you discharge the battery?

    Like many things in the auto industry many of them have to be done differently anymore. The way we deal with fuel system, change brakes and even rotate tires we not have to reset the pressure sensors. Even jump starting a car much car needs to be taken as you can wipe out a simple fuse for the power steering or even damage the flash memory in the computer.

    This has nothing to do with anything. I still see people doing inadvertent welding while attempting to jump start cars and not one fuse or electrical component is worse for wear. Sure, we take precautions... the lawyers have preordained that... but 90% of a jump start, brake job or tire rotation is the same as it was 25 years ago.

    <more unrelated digression removed>

    The Leaf uses nearly the same type of battery but no one has even brought it up. Tesla uses a large number of lap top batteries too that are similar to the one that have caught fire in the past but where is the inquiry?

    Nothing is letting them off the hook. I would question if the Tesla system is quite as liable to go into thermal runaway due to the segmentation of the batteries, but I have insufficient information to make an guess on that.

    <removed inane comparison of $199 7 oz IPhone to a $40K 3800 pound Volt>

    Note GM has already been pro active in working with safety and fire crews to train them how to deal with these cars already. As for junk yards I expect GM plans on taking most of the batteries back as they are still useful after the car is done. They plan to use them for storage batteries and I would assume they already have those deals in place to make sure there are none in a junk yard or going to a crusher.

    Being proactive? I read the safety crew documentation. Where does it say to discharge the battery. Is this a secret that you only get if you go to the seminar?

    Unless GM is going to buy the packs back at a premium, the junkyards are going to sell them to the highest bidders. Battery packs are going to be the hottest thing since junkyards got into the platinum and electronics businesses. Nobody but you would even suggest that a battery pack would go to the crusher. I'm believe GM's storage battery story when I see it... GM knows that lithium recovery will be a huge business. _IF_ electric cars prove to be as popular as people here seem to think, those battery packs are going to be dismantled for lithium to make new battery packs for whatever is selling the best.

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    Wow quotes your are at it again LOL!

    Looks like you need to read up on the Volt. There is a good book out on the Volt now It ia bright green and you can't miss it. Also there have been many things GM has done and addressed since since it was published. The book out lines how they were working with safety forces on training them how to deal with the new systems. Sorry they did not give dates and times where it took place. There have also been many stories that have also addressed many of the issues they faced and were dealing with since.

    As for the discharge statment it came from GM after the one burned in the owner garage, It was not crashed and that Volt was later cleared later from last reports. I think you can find these statements on autoblog.com if you dig for them.

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    The batteries in the volt are segmented as well. It's just that the Tesla batteries were quite literally designed for laptops.

    The key with the GM battery is it was designed for a car where the Testla was converted for use in a car. Better packaging, life and cooling were the intent of GM from what I read. Testla had to convert as they just did not have the money to make it from scratch. Not saying it is a bad thing but it is a less developed way of doing it.

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    I think the biggest key here is that GM is being very pro-active on the situation and offering owners the option of a loaner car is a low cost/high reward move. Low cost because they can offer them a CPO Cruze (I think I know of one in Eastern PA) and I have the feeling very very very few people will actually take them up on the offer. But the payout for GM is HUGE in the amount of goodwill felt by the Volt buyers.

    Someone at GM did their PR homework.

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    Looks like you need to read up on the Volt. There is a good book out on the Volt now It ia bright green and you can't miss it. Also there have been many things GM has done and addressed since since it was published. The book out lines how they were working with safety forces on training them how to deal with the new systems. Sorry they did not give dates and times where it took place. There have also been many stories that have also addressed many of the issues they faced and were dealing with since.

    Ah... the Green Book So Memorable That You Don't Remember the Name.

    Since you apparently have access to this book (I do not), just riddle me this: What is the the procedure for discharging an internally shorted battery pack one the emergency techs have cut all the recommended leads.

    You stated its as easy as unplugging... then as easy as discharging it. If its so easy, tell us how to do it without damaging the vehicle or battery pack further or endangering personal safety.

    As for the discharge statment it came from GM after the one burned in the owner garage, It was not crashed and that Volt was later cleared later from last reports. I think you can find these statements on autoblog.com if you dig for them.

    I'm not too worried about that car... I understand the Volt was cleared as being the direct cause. I'm more concerned with the NHTSA self-immolated Volt.

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    Looks like you need to read up on the Volt. There is a good book out on the Volt now It ia bright green and you can't miss it. Also there have been many things GM has done and addressed since since it was published. The book out lines how they were working with safety forces on training them how to deal with the new systems. Sorry they did not give dates and times where it took place. There have also been many stories that have also addressed many of the issues they faced and were dealing with since.

    Ah... the Green Book So Memorable That You Don't Remember the Name.

    Since you apparently have access to this book (I do not), just riddle me this: What is the the procedure for discharging an internally shorted battery pack one the emergency techs have cut all the recommended leads.

    You stated its as easy as unplugging... then as easy as discharging it. If its so easy, tell us how to do it without damaging the vehicle or battery pack further or endangering personal safety.

    As for the discharge statment it came from GM after the one burned in the owner garage, It was not crashed and that Volt was later cleared later from last reports. I think you can find these statements on autoblog.com if you dig for them.

    I'm not too worried about that car... I understand the Volt was cleared as being the direct cause. I'm more concerned with the NHTSA self-immolated Volt.

    Since you can't find it yourself?

    The Book Chevrolet Volt Charging into the Future By Larry Edsal. Do you want the copyright date and the ISBN number too? It is not great in details but lays out much of GM's plans and how things were developed.

    Here is the first repsonders guide https://www.gmstc.co...tResponder.aspx Here is another http://www.evsafetyt.../Chevrolet.aspx

    Sorry GM has the one they did after the first fire but I have not seen it yet. Someone on the Volt Forum may have it? It is out there but the NHTSA did not know it was available.

    From what I have read GM has stated that Onstar alerts them to a crash and they will send out people to deal with the battery. Why or how this was not done in the test crash is something that would have to be answered by GM or the NHTSA.

    GM has been working and stated the safety plans they have in place but there may be a disconnect in getting them out to all the people in need. The info is on line but many rescue departments may not been contacted directly. Note to GM has addressed where to even where to cut open the car as if they would cut in the wrong place it could be an issue.

    There is a MSD [Manual Service Disconnect] plug that will kill the power to the car.

    Here is one of the stories that notes GM plans post crash. While not in detail it lets you know what they have or have planned. http://www.huffingto..._n_1117673.html

    NHTSA wasn't aware of the post-crash procedures at the time of the June fire, GM officials have said. In the U.S., GM is notified of any severe Volt crashes through its OnStar safety system, and it sends a team to the car within a day to drain the battery charge to prevent any fires.

    In the Volt's system, Lithium-ion battery cells, which essentially are a single battery, are assembled into a pack of cells, and coolant is pumped between the cells to keep them from overheating. In the June fire at a test facility in Burlington, Wis., coolant leaked from the battery and crystallized, and that could have been a factor in the fire, GM has said. The fire came three weeks after a side-impact crash test and was severe enough to cause several other vehicles parked nearby to catch fire as well.

    Barra said that in all the Volt incidents, the battery cells were not involved in the fires, only the electronics within the battery pack. But she would not be more specific until NHTSA's investigation is over.

    Reuss said GM won't sell any Volts in other countries until it makes sure emergency responders, salvage yards and dealers have been trained to discharge the batteries after a severe crash.

    Sorry if I did not memorise every detail since I am neither a first repsonder or Volt owner. I do read many of the tech stories and try to keep up with what they are doing. I am sure they are looking to see if there are anything they can or need to address and will do so soon. I suspect the slow start up was not only for quality but to also address the issues that may come up. This is a whole new game and no matter how much you test something will always arise.

    If you look around there is a lot of good info out there but you do need to make the effort.

    Edited by hyperv6
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    I think the biggest key here is that GM is being very pro-active on the situation and offering owners the option of a loaner car is a low cost/high reward move. Low cost because they can offer them a CPO Cruze (I think I know of one in Eastern PA) and I have the feeling very very very few people will actually take them up on the offer. But the payout for GM is HUGE in the amount of goodwill felt by the Volt buyers.

    Someone at GM did their PR homework.

    GM needs to treat any Volt owner like royalty. These people with a high profile car need to be kept happy. With this car there is zero tolerance for a disatisfied customer. It is cheaper to keep them happy with what ever vs trying to repair an image after bad publicity.

    The damage would not only hurt the Volt but GM as a whole.

    I suspect there will be some changes to the car soon.

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    Since you can't find it yourself?

    The Book Chevrolet Volt Charging into the Future By Larry Edsal. Do you want the copyright date and the ISBN number too? It is not great in details but lays out much of GM's plans and how things were developed.

    With your description? A Green book with the word 'Volt' in it? Great description... that covers about 3000 books.

    Turns out that book is marketing fluff... and I'm not paying for it. I already wasted my money on the Lutz book, which was super low on detail and high on fluff.

    Here is the first repsonders guide https://www.gmstc.co...tResponder.aspx Here is another http://www.evsafetyt.../Chevrolet.aspx

    Same old nothing. I have these. I've had them for months. I READ THEM. Where is the discharge procedure? All these guides have the same clip art and copy, basically saying 'cut here', 'cut here', 'don't cut here', 'here is the master shut off'. There is nothing else in there about the discharge procedure.

    Sorry GM has the one they did after the first fire but I have not seen it yet. Someone on the Volt Forum may have it? It is out there but the NHTSA did not know it was available.

    From what I have read GM has stated that Onstar alerts them to a crash and they will send out people to deal with the battery. Why or how this was not done in the test crash is something that would have to be answered by GM or the NHTSA.

    GM has been working and stated the safety plans they have in place but there may be a disconnect in getting them out to all the people in need. The info is on line but many rescue departments may not been contacted directly. Note to GM has addressed where to even where to cut open the car as if they would cut in the wrong place it could be an issue.

    GM: "Trust us, we have plans in place". Yet, the discharge procedure is apparently a huge secret. Do we really trust GM to visit EVERY Volt accident for in perpetuity?

    There is a MSD [Manual Service Disconnect] plug that will kill the power to the car.

    Here is one of the stories that notes GM plans post crash. While not in detail it lets you know what they have or have planned. http://www.huffingto..._n_1117673.html

    The MSD does not DISCHARGE THE BATTERY.

    The Huffpo article does not document the process.

    A phone call to a friend with a salvage yard does not know what you are talking about. They plan on stacking up Volts just like every other smashed up GM car.

    Sorry if I did not memorise every detail since I am neither a first repsonder or Volt owner. I do read many of the tech stories and try to keep up with what they are doing. I am sure they are looking to see if there are anything they can or need to address and will do so soon. I suspect the slow start up was not only for quality but to also address the issues that may come up. This is a whole new game and no matter how much you test something will always arise.

    If you look around there is a lot of good info out there but you do need to make the effort.

    If you are not knowledgeable enough in the Volt to know the discharge procedure, you shouldn't write that "it just needs to be unplugged" or "just discharge it". And posting links to basically the same PDF file that does not include the procedure does not help your cause.

    Yeah, there is lots of good info on the internet. A search of "How to discharge the volt battery pack" comes up with 14.4 million hits, and a small percentage of those articles that call for a procedure for discharging the battery... but I haven't eye balled every article, and I have yet to find one article describing the procedure.

    One last thing I was thinking about... the Volt battery pack never discharges below 30 percent in normal usage, as discharging the battery pack below that point results in permanent damage to the pack. A battery pack with a 30% charge is still a lot of energy. If every Volt accident results in GM engineers, lawyers and PR folks being dispatched to discharge the pack, these packs are going to all be severely damaged... perhaps to the point where GM can't even use them for the fabled "storage batteries" plan. This sounds like a situation where every Onstar triggering accident leads to the vehicle being totaled.

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    I was just passing on what GM has stated for months in several statments. I didn't feel it needed a scientific dissertation to go with it.

    If you want a scientific breakdown on it you will have to E mail Mark Reuss or dig it up yourself. At least now you know what to look for now.

    Edited by hyperv6
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    saying the volt battery never discharges below 30% is untrue. that capacity is there for reserve in high load conditions.

    The battery will also go below 30% if you run out of gas. It will kick back to electric to get you to a gas station. It is limited but will still work. I think it is something like 7-10 Miles depending on the conditions based on what I have read on those who have tried it.

    30% and 40% is the optimum state to preserve longer battery life. You can go below but it will shorten the life of the battery. Also if you store a Litium Ion say in other items they recomend a cool place with 40 % charge will help preserve the battery while in storage.

    Litium Ions are a good battery but there have things about them that will increase life and durability if used properly. Most rechargable batteries have traits that help or hurt them. Anyone who has raced electric RC cars with Nickel Cadium batteries know that they have to discharge the battery to charge it and keep a longer use life. But they also would heat up under fast discharge of use. With our trick motors they could get down right hot.

    There is just a lot for all to learn here and with the contiued improvments and changes we will have to keep up on it as what works on this version may not be the same on the next.

    Edited by hyperv6
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    I was just passing on what GM has stated for months in several statments. I didn't feel it needed a scientific dissertation to go with it.

    And, unfortunately, GM has passed on vague info in those statements. Now that GM has 5000+ Volts wandering around, I contend more specific info needs to be spread to the public. The same goes for other Li-Ion based electric cars.

    saying the volt battery never discharges below 30% is untrue. that capacity is there for reserve in high load conditions.

    The battery will also go below 30% if you run out of gas. It will kick back to electric to get you to a gas station. It is limited but will still work. I think it is something like 7-10 Miles depending on the conditions based on what I have read on those who have tried it.

    30% and 40% is the optimum state to preserve longer battery life. You can go below but it will shorten the life of the battery. Also if you store a Litium Ion say in other items they recomend a cool place with 40 % charge will help preserve the battery while in storage.

    And my point really is not that 30% is a hard limit, but that the closer to 0% the battery is discharged to, the worse it is for the battery pack. If you are on GM's Volt emergency team, you are not going to be able to ensure that a battery pack is undamaged unless you remove it from the vehicle... hardly something that can be done on the side of the road... so do they discharge all batteries to a point where the life is compromised or abruptly ended, just to be safe?

    According to Wiki, deep discharge of Li Ion batteries may short-circuit the cell, in which case recharging would be unsafe... resulting in the thermal runaway that discharging the battery was meant to avoid.

    Litium Ions are a good battery but there have things about them that will increase life and durability if used properly. Most rechargable batteries have traits that help or hurt them. Anyone who has raced electric RC cars with Nickel Cadium batteries know that they have to discharge the battery to charge it and keep a longer use life. But they also would heat up under fast discharge of use. With our trick motors they could get down right hot.

    Lithium batteries have been around for over 30 years. The pros and cons are pretty well known, and barring a major discovery, will be around for some time.

    There is just a lot for all to learn here and with the contiued improvments and changes we will have to keep up on it as what works on this version may not be the same on the next.

    This is one thing we do agree on, but GM is the holder of this info, and needs to be more transparent with it. I'm not expecting a white paper on the exact Lithium chemistry being used, but I do expect there will be enough info to understand what will happen to the batteries throughout its lifetime, which could be quite long once the DIYer's start getting their hands on them.

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