Chevy Volt Fires | TheDetroitBureau.com
Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘chevy volt fires’

Boeing’s Battery Problems Could Short-Circuit Battery Car Market

Unexplained fires raise new concerns about lithium-ion technology.

by on Jan.22, 2013

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial jet to make heavy use of lithium-ion power.

The ongoing investigation of faulty lithium-ion power packs on the new 787 Dreamliner could have implications far beyond the aerospace industry, some observers worrying that Boeing’s battery problems could short-circuit the nascent market for plug-ins, hybrids and other electrified automobiles.

Investigators in the U.S. and Japan have put a spotlight on the lithium backup power systems used on the new Boeing jet, linking the technology to several recent incidents, including a fire on one of the Dreamliners parked at a gate at Boston’s Logan field. Some observers are pointing to a series of fires involving the battery packs used in various electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt and Fisker Karma.

Subscribe Now - It's Free!

With the Boeing story getting a lot of airplay, “This is definitely an issue,” said Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting. “This could be particularly bad timing,” the analyst cautioned, considering the push to increase sales of battery-based vehicles in the years ahead.

(more…)

Late Update: Explosion at GM Tech Center Battery Lab

One worker hospitalized, battery lab indefinitely closed.

by on Apr.11, 2012

A lithium-ion battery being tested at the GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan.

This is the latest update of TheDetroitBureau.com’s initial report, posted at 5:30 PM EDT.

An explosion at a battery vehicle research lab at the General Motors Technical Center resulted in six injuries, including one hospitalization.  The lab was evacuated and it and adjoining offices will remain closed at least for another day.  The automaker says the incident was the result of “extreme testing on a prototype battery.”

Though the maker stresses that its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was not involved in the incident, the explosion could prove another setback considering the brouhaha that followed reports of several fires involving the Volt last year subsequent to crash testing by federal safety regulators.

Your Inside Source!

“An incident occurred about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday inside a test chamber at the General Motors Alternative Energy Center during extreme testing of an experimental battery,” the maker stated in a news release. “Chemical gases from the battery cells were released and ignited in the enclosed chamber. The battery itself was intact. The battery tested and the incident have no connection with the Chevrolet Volt or any other GM production vehicle.”

The automaker reports five employees were treated at the scene with another worker’s injuries requiring hospitalization.

(more…)

Chevrolet Volt Named European Car of the Year

Jurors get charged up about plug-in hybrid.

by on Mar.06, 2012

The Opel Ampera made its debut in Geneva three years ago but finally reached market just last month.

It’s been a tough year for the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors’ once-celebrated plug-in hybrid.  But perhaps it’s about to see its fortunes turn as a jury of Continental motoring journalists declare Volt and its Opel Ampera sibling the European Car of the year.

That victory comes 14 months after the Volt took North American Car of the Year honors – but, oh, how much has happened in-between.  Just last week, GM announced it will shut down production of Volt and Ampera for five weeks due to excess inventory, a problem exacerbated by reports that several Volt battery packs caught fire after U.S. crash tests.

News You Can Use!

But while that – and a controversial hearing by a U.S. House subcommittee — might have briefly short-circuited Volt sales, it didn’t seem to unplug enthusiasm among European journalists.  The 59 members of the European Car of the Year jury awarded Volt 330 points, nearly 20% more than its nearest competitor, the Volkswagen Up!, with 281 points  Ford’s newly-updated Focus came in third, with 256 points.

(more…)

Congressional Trial by Fire For Volt

NHTSA chief hammered for delayed report.

by on Jan.25, 2012

GM CEO Dan Akerson gets into a Chevrolet Volt on his way to today's hearings on Capitol Hill.

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson faced a trial by fire today – quite literally – when he was grilled about a series of fires that occurred following federal crash tests of the maker’s Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Akerson, by his own request, was one of those testifying during a hearing by a subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee with the provocative title, “What did NHTSA know and when did it know it.”  The reference to Watergate and former Pres. Richard Nixon reflected the clear contention of committee leaders that the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency deliberately delayed issuing a public report on the first Volt fire for at least three months.

Subscribe Now - It's Free!

Some critics have suggested the agency was motivated by a desire to protect the Treasury’s stake in GM, which it first acquired as part of the bailout the maker received after going bankrupt in 2009.  But Akerson denied that, and in prepared comments told the Oversight panel, “The Volt is safe.  It’s a marvelous machine.”

(more…)

GM to Make “Voluntary Enhancements” to Chevrolet Volt

Maker insists reports of post-crash test fires hasn’t hurt halo car’s image.

by on Jan.05, 2012

GM will begin modifying Volts on the assembly line immediately, with dealers modifying customer vehicles starting in February.

General Motors will make a series of “enhancements” to ensure there is no risk of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric vehicle catching fire after a side-impact crash.  The move follows reports last month that several Volt battery packs either caught fire or smoked and sparked several weeks after aggressive crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While Mark Reuss, GM’s president of the Americas, said he couldn’t answer for the NHTSA he expressed confidence his company’s announcement will lead government safety regulators to wrap up their investigation into possible problems with the Volt battery pack.

News You Can Use!

The updates to the Volt will not impact the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery pack itself but will reinforce the vehicle structure to prevent the battery coolant system from being penetrated – as happened in the NHTSA testing – while also reducing the risk coolant fluid could spill onto sensitive electronic components.

“We have made the Volt even safer,” Reuss declared during his remarks, adding that if he didn’t think the Volt was already safe “I wouldn’t allow” his own family to continue using the vehicle on a daily basis.

(more…)

Ford Insists its Battery Cars Will be Safe

Maker has taken added steps to prevent post-crash fires.

by on Dec.14, 2011

A Ford Focus Electric using a high-speed charger.

Clearly concerned by the controversy that’s erupted over fires involving the Chevrolet Volt’s lithium-ion batteries, Ford Motor Co. officials pointedly stressed that they have gone to extremes to ensure there won’t be problems when they launch an array of lithium-powered products in the coming year.

Ford provided an inside look at their “electrified” line-up today, a mix of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that the maker hopes will position it as one of the leaders in the growing green automotive niche.

Get Your Efficiency Here!

“The goal is to focus on affordable, sustainable technologies, not for 100s of customers or thousands, but for millions,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s global product development chief, who added that the maker “will triple the production capacity for electrified vehicles to 100,000 by 2013.”

(more…)

GM Contends Fire Problem Even More Common with Gasoline.

Maker aiming to downplay problem with Chevy Volt batteries.

by on Dec.13, 2011

GM struggles to head off a PR problem with the Volt.

Embarrassed by reports that the batteries in several of its Chevrolet Volts caught fire after crash tests, General Motors is fighting back by pointing out that there are more than 215,000 car fires annually in the U.S. involving vehicles fueled by gasoline.

GM is facing an increasingly serious nightmare in the wake of the fires at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test facilities.  While there have been no reports of fires involving Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids owned by the public there are clear signs of concern among potential buyers and several Volt dozen owners have reportedly taken GM up on its offer to buy the vehicles back.

Meanwhile, Congress plans to investigate the issue, House Republicans questioning whether GM and the Obama administration are covering up more serious problems with the Volt.

Subscribe Now - It's Free!

But GM is fighting back, pointing out that cars fueled with gasoline are also routinely involved in fires.  And the automaker has pointed out that after crash testing NHTSA routinely empties vehicle gas tanks.  It did so on the Volt but failed to also discharge the plug-in’s batteries as required by the maker’s post-crash protocol.

(more…)

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.

Upgrade Your Insight!

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

(more…)

Potential Buyers Steering Clear of Volt as House Schedules Probe

GM reportedly may have fix for fire problem.

by on Dec.07, 2011

The Chevrolet Volt, shown here with its lithium-ion battery pack.

Potential buyers seem to be steering clear of the Chevrolet Volt in the wake of reports that the plug-in hybrid experienced several fires following federal crash tests – which could pose a serious problem for General Motors as it prepares for a sharp ramp-up in production for 2012.

Meanwhile, a House panel has scheduled a hearing next month to look into the safety of the Chevy Volt – and the way the Obama Administration has handled the investigation so far.  The nation’s top transportation official, despite three fires involving the Volt after testing, has declared the plug-in “safe to drive.”

In the Know!

Separately, GM is reportedly studying changes to the Volt’s battery pack to prevent the possibility of fire after a crash.  Such a fix could be announced in a matter of weeks, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The crisis began last month when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first reported that a Volt it had subjected to a side-impact crash test in May caught fire three weeks later.  Another series of tests last month resulted in a second fire, with a third battery sputtering and smoking.

(more…)

Electric Carmaker Aptera Pulls the Plug

Short of cash, start-up battery-car maker will be shutting down.

by on Dec.03, 2011

Aptera's little battery car won't be making it into production as the California start-up shuts its doors.

After raising only a fraction of the money it needed to put its aircraft-like 2e battery-car into production, California start-up Aptera has had to pull the plug on its ambitious goal of becoming a major player in the coming market for electric vehicles.

The Southern California firm had been counting on receiving a federal loan to cover most of the $150 million it said it needed to launch production of the three-wheeled, highly aerodynamic 2e, which looks much like a private aircraft minus the wings.

But the government failed to come up with funding as the Department of Energy loan program came under increasing fire – an issue that saw the DoE back out of assisting another California automotive ‘s goalstart-up, San Diego-based Next Autoworks.  (Click Here for that story.) Turning to other sources, Aptera had so far only been able to raise $40 million.

http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/about/subscribe

Subscribe Now! It's Free!

“After years of focused effort to bring our products to the market, Aptera Motors is closing its doors, effective today,” Aptera Chairman Paul Wilbur said in a statement announcing the battery-car maker’s decision. “This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision. Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.”

(more…)