GM investigates Chevrolet Volt battery packs following fires

GM is to investigate fires linked to the battery packs of Chevrolet Volts.

The initiative follows six months of research and testing in the US with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) designed to induce electric-vehicle battery failure after severe crash situations.

The agency advised GM on Friday 25 November 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.

‘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,’ said Mark Reuss, GM US president.

‘This technology should inspire confidence and pride, not raise any concern or doubt,’ added Reuss. ‘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.’

Mary Barra, senior vice-president, global product development, said GM had established a senior engineering team to develop changes to eliminate the concern of potential post-crash electrical fires and work with industry to ensure that appropriate electric vehicle protocols were in place.

Barra said that such electrical fires had not occurred on public roads and NHTSA was not investigating any such potential imminent failure on the roads.

NHTSA said in a statement that it is not aware of any road crashes that have resulted in battery-related fires in Chevy Volts or other vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries.