Copyright 2011 by TheDetroitBureau.com
The spotlight is on the Chevrolet Volt following word that one of the plug-in hybrids caught fire while being tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But TheDetroitBureau.com has learned that the fire was readily preventable had a few simple steps been taken after a Volt was put through a series of tests three weeks earlier.
Federal regulators have promised a full investigation of the spring incident in which the Volt caught fire and burned several nearby vehicles. That has raised serious questions about the safety of its batteries, though GM officials say it may instead require adapting federal crash tests – as well as what happens in the field in the event of a real collision.
The fire occurred at a private facility in Wisconsin where the NHTSA conducts crash tests on new vehicles. On May 12, the battery car was subject to a so-called “pole” test, where it is rammed into a barrier at 20 mph to simulate a side impact. The vehicle was then subject to what is known informally as the “rotisserie test,” where it is rolled over into various positions to test for leaks that might have occurred during the crash.
Ironically, the Volt did well enough to earn a five-star rating, the best possible.