The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tested three Chevy Volt batteries last week and one of them caught fire. The other two may have overheated. They were investigating the possibility of battery problems due to an incident in May when a Volt battery caught fire three weeks after undergoing a crash safety test. Last week’s NHTSA test attempted to replicate the same conditions of the crash test that caused a Volt’s May battery fire.
In their official statement NHTSA wrote, “This past May, NHTSA crashed a Chevy Volt in an NCAP test designed to measure the vehicle’s ability to protect occupants from injury in a side collision. During that test, the vehicle’s battery was damaged and the coolant line was ruptured. When a fire involving the test vehicle occurred more than three weeks after it was crashed, the agency concluded that the damage to the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery during the crash test led to the fire.” (Source: NHTSA)
They also said it is too soon to know if there should be a recall of any vehicles or parts. General Motors has been offering free cars on loan to concerned Chevy Volt owners. They say they will contact all Volt owners and extend the free loaner offer to them.
In various reports about the Volt it sometimes is referred to as an electric car, but it is actually a hybrid employing an electric engine to power the car, and a small gasoline engine to run a generator which charges the electric battery. The car can also run in a mode where both engines are employed using a blended power. In 2013, a Volt using an electric engine and an E-85 gasoline engine may be available, which would be good because E-85 is mainly ethanol, and it can be produced entirely in America, so using it could decrease our dependence on foreign oil and potentially boost our own economy. Ethanol has been unfairly slammed as a product that would take away corn used for food, but some ethanol is grown from a type of corn that isn’t used for human food. Also, the power output of ethanol was said to be too low to justify producing it, but this claim has been refuted.
Image Credit: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz