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Posts Tagged ‘battery car safety’

NHTSA Delays “Quiet Car” EV Ruling

Pushback will delay program until 2018 model-year.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The new rules would cover not only pure EVs but plug-ins and hybrids running in electric mode.

Federal regulators have delayed a proposed rule that would require new battery-based vehicles to emit warning sounds to reduce the likelihood of hitting a pedestrian or bicycle rider, especially those who are sight-impaired.

The rules, which were supposed to be finalized this month, would create a common standard for vehicles operating at low speeds in electric mode. Currently, a handful of models do produce warning sounds, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to come up with a standard alert that can be easily recognized.

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Pedestrian fatalities rose 3.1% last year compared to 2013, according to federal statistics, though there are no clear data to indicate whether the growing number of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles played a role in that increase.


New Tesla Fire Fans Concerns About Model S Safety

Blaze consumes Toronto owner’s garage.

by on Feb.14, 2014

Toronto firefighters examine damage after extinguishing a fire involving a Tesla Model S. Image courtesy:

Just days after Tesla stock hit an all-time record another fire involving the battery-car maker’s Model S is raising new safety concerns.

The latest battery blaze occurred in Toronto after the owner returned from a drive and parked the electric sedan in their garage.  Moments later, the owner’s fire detector reportedly went off and the fire department was called to the scene.

The incident is the fourth reported fire involving a Model S in recent months, including two in the U.S. and another in Mexico.  The earlier incidents raised questions about the safety of the Model S design and initially triggered a sharp decline in Tesla’s soaring stock price.  Shares had been recovering in recent weeks but took a tumble again on Friday.

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“In this particular case, we don’t yet know the precise cause, but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire,” said Tesla in a statement that insisted, “The Model S continues to have the best safety track record of any vehicle in the world.”


Tesla’s 3rd Model S Fire Adds to Maker’s Woes

Stock takes huge tumble.

by on Nov.07, 2013

An Instagram image of a third reported Tesla Model S fire in Smyrna, Tennessee. Photo Credit:

Another Tesla Model S battery sedan has caught fire, the third such incident in six weeks, and an event that is contributing to the California carmaker’s sudden stock price plunge.

Ironically, the incident occurred in Smyrna, Tennessee, according to the Tesla Motors Club website, the same town where Nissan produces its own battery-electric vehicle, the Leaf.

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Tesla officials say they plan to immediately investigate the fire which appears to have occurred following a collision involving the Tesla. Two other Tesla vehicles have suffered fires since late September, and the latest incident could raise new concerns about the safety of the lithium-ion technology used by Tesla and other battery-car makers.


Tesla CEO Musk Insists Model S Safe Despite Fire

Battery sedan “safer” than gasoline-powered cars, Musk insists.

by on Oct.07, 2013

The images shown on the Internet "exaggerate" the Tesla Model S fire, claims vehicle's owner.

Investors may be worrying about the impact of a fire that severely damaged a Tesla Model S battery car last week, but the maker’s CEO is not only defending the design of the electric vehicle but arguing that the accident proves it safer than a comparable, gasoline-fueled vehicle.

Fond of using the Internet to get his messages across, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk took to the company’s blog to respond to concerns about a fire that erupted under the hood of a Model S last Tuesday, an incident that was captured on video and has been widely viewed on Youtube and other sites. There were no injuries in the incident, apparently in part due to the vehicle’s own warning system which advised the driver to pull over and exit before the fire erupted in the battery compartment.

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The vehicle’s owner – who is also a Tesla shareholder – reported to rescue crews arriving on the scene that he had apparently struck metal debris on the road in suburban Seattle. In his blog report, CEO Musk echoed that, reporting that the vehicle took a hit powerful enough to punch a 3-inch hole through the armor plate designed to protect the Model S battery pack.


NHTSA Weighing in on Fisker Karma Fire

Plenty of finger-pointing but still no clear cause.

by on May.22, 2012

The Karma might look light and nimble but weighs nearly 5,300 pounds.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the latest to wade into the debris trying to figure out the cause of a fire in a Texas garage, earlier this month, that consumed a Fisker Karma and several other luxury vehicles.

The conflagration was originally blamed by local authorities on the Fisker plug-in sports car but that initial explanation is being challenged by the carmaker – which pointedly revealed that the car’s lithium-ion battery pack was intact after the blaze.  For its part, Fisker has suggested there might even be some mischief at work, hinting that the fire might have been purposely set.

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For its part, NHTSA is simply describing the investigation as “ongoing,” and declining to join the finger-pointing.

“We are still engaged in that activity, and no determination has been made at this time,” Claude Harris, NHTSA’s director of vehicle compliance, said during an electric vehicle safety forum.


Did Fisker Karma Cause Garage Fire?

Conflicting reports on cause.

by on May.09, 2012

A Fisker Karma with company founder Henrik Fisker.

So far, the Fisker Karma hasn’t exactly set the automotive market on fire – but there are conflicting reports on the cause of a fire in a suburban Houston garage that destroyed one of the plug-in sports cars and several exotic vehicles, with one official pointing to the Karma.

The May 3 fire in Sugar Land, Texas seriously damaged a garage containing a Karma, Mercedes-Benz SUV and an Acura NSX.  While the lithium-ion battery on the Fisker appears to have been intact, the initial investigation pointed to the plug-in.

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Robert Baker, the head of the Bend County fire department’s investigating team told Auto Week magazine that he believed the Karam “was the origin of the fire, but what exactly caused that we don’t know at this time.”

The news would be a major setback for the California start-up, which has faced significant delays in its roll-out of new products, including the Karma, with its next model, the Atlantic, indefinitely delayed. Named for Danish auto designer Henrik Fisker, the firm has had a federal loan withdrawn and is racing to line up private equity to keep going.


Transpo Chief LaHood Denies Hiding Volt Defect

NHTSA facing Congressional scrutiny.

by on Dec.09, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson is being grilled by a Republican House leader over Volt battery concerns.

The nation’s top automotive regulator is denying his department attempted to hide a potentially serious safety problem with the Chevrolet Volt.

Despite waiting months before revealing that one of the plug-in hybrids had caught fire after a May crash test, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his department needed time to see what actually caused the fire in a yard used to hold vehicles after they were tested.

The incident – and a second test-related fire, last month, involving a Volt – have raised concerns about the safety of the Chevy hatchback’s battery pack.  But while the DoT’s automotive arm, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has begun a formal investigation of the Volt, the initial delay has led critics to question if there was a political motive at work.

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“Absolutely not true,” countered LaHood when asked about the criticism, which is largely being fueled by Republicans, including California Congressman Darrell Issa.


Feds Step Up Investigation in Wake of New Chevy Volt Fires

New tests raise additional concerns.

by on Nov.28, 2011

NHTSA has now launched a formal investigation after an additional fire in a Chevy Volt battery pack it was crash-testing.

Already concerned about a battery fire that followed the spring crash test of a Chevrolet Volt, federal safety regulators have opened a new investigation as the result of additional fires involving Volt’s lithium-ion batteries.

Company officials have already blamed the initial incident on a failure to follow proper procedures following the crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they contend the Volt is safe despite the latest fires.  But the new study could create a serious problem for the automaker as it gets ready to push for a six-fold increase in sales of the plug-in hybrid next year.

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In a statement, GM said it has “worked closely” with the NHTSA and wasn’t surprised by the news the agency would launch a formal investigation.  But the maker also declared the volt “is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash.”


Are Hybrids Safer in a Crash?

Study suggests their added mass offers an advantage.

by on Nov.21, 2011

A new study finds that occupants of gas-electric vehicles, like this 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid, are less likely to suffer injuries in collisions.

Mass may be the enemy when it comes to fuel economy but it offers a distinctive advantage when it comes to a crash – which may be a main reason why a new study shows that occupants are likely to come out better in a collision involving a hybrid vehicle than if they were riding in the same model using a conventional powertrain.

A study of 25 vehicles produced between 2003 and 2011 which offered both hybrid and conventional powertrains found that there was a 27% lower injury rate in the gas-electric models, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.

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There’s a downside to the study, however, HLDI finding that in pedestrian accidents involving hybrids, there was a 20% higher injury rate.


Leaf, Volt Earn Top Crash Ratings

IIHS announces results of first-ever mainstream battery-car crash tests.

by on Apr.26, 2011

The new Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt battery cars earn IIHS Top Safety Pick endorsements.

A new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety should calm those concerned about the safety of the new battery car technology.  After a series of crash tests, the IIHS has awarded the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt its highest safety ratings

The trade group says the results – which came from the first test of mainstream battery-powered vehicles – shows that the industry is putting the same focus on safety engineering for the new vehicles that is going into today’s more conventional vehicles.

Volt and Leaf not earned the institute’s top, “Good” rating in front, side, rear and rollover crash protection, but were named IIHS “Top Safety Picks.”

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“What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers,” said Joe Nolan, IIHS chief administrative officer.

The IIHS results add to the series of awards garnered by the Chevy and Nissan battery cars since their introduction in December.  Just last week, Leaf was named World Car of the Year by a panel of 66 automotive journalists from around the world.  Volt took honors as World Green Car, and was named North American Car of the Year by U.S. and Canadian journalists in January.