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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.

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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.


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.

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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.