2011 Chevy Volt: Battery Fires Prompt Chevy To Offer Loaners, Should We Get One?
November 28, 2011
For those of you who have been under a rock that shields you from automotive news, there's been a bit of a dust-up lately with the Chevy Volt and some minor fires that have occurred after crash testing. First there was a crash test that resulted in a battery fire three weeks later, and then just last week NHTSA intentionally damaged a few Volt Battery packs causing two fires. Nothing's quite as good for the environment as exploding batteries, right?
As you'd expect, GM is acting quite quickly to ensure customers that the Volt is safe but understands that people who are driving the cars every day (Mark Reuss is a Volt owner, BTW) may be concerned and have taken steps to console nervous drivers.
"Even though there have been no customer incidents, we're taking steps to ensure your peace of mind. If you are in any way uncomfortable driving your Volt as a result of this information, we want to make it right. We will provide you a GM vehicle to drive until this issue is resolved. Contact your Volt Advisor to make arrangements or to answer your questions. If you are not aware of your specific Volt Advisor, the contact information is: phone: 877-4-VOLT-INFO (877-486-5846) email: Voltda101@gmexpert.com. " said Mark Reuss in a statement. (Full transrcipt after the jump.)
We've got a line out to GM for the specifics on the program and will update this when we hear back, but for now the question is: Should we? Would you?
Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line
November 28, 2011
Dear Volt Owner,
You may have seen the recent news articles regarding the NHTSA's (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) safety investigation of the Chevrolet Volt. Im writing you today with more details that, I think, will put things in perspective and make you feel better about your Volt.
First and foremost, I want to assure you of one very important thing: the Volt is a safe car. The Volt continues to have a 5-star overall vehicle score for safety in NHTSAs New Car Assessment Program. It was also given a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
There are good reasons the Volt is safe. Our team has put more than one million miles into making the Chevrolet Volt as safe as it is remarkable. After all, our families, neighbors, co-workers and friends are among those who own the cars were tasked with designing, engineering and manufacturing.
Here are the facts behind the most recent news articles. In May, the NHTSA ran one of its most-severe crash tests at a test facility in Wisconsin. The Volt battery was damaged and the coolant line was ruptured. Three weeks later, an electrical fire involving the test vehicle occurred.
NHSTA, working with GM engineers, has been running a program of severe impact and intrusion tests on Volt battery assemblies as part of its effort to understand and replicate the May 2011 incident. Thanksgiving night, NHTSA told us that one of the batteries tested was involved in an electrical fire similar to the one that took place in Wisconsin. As a result NHTSA has begun a preliminary investigation of Chevrolet Volt battery assemblies.
We are aware of no real-world consumer incidents that have produced a similar result. These recent tests show a very rare set of circumstances: A severe impact resulting in the battery and coolant lines being compromised. And then the passing of a significant amount of time before an electrical fire may take place.
The Volt is as safe as conventional vehicles for its occupants before, during and immediately after a crash. When electrical energy is left in a battery after a severe crash it can be similar to leaving gasoline in a leaking fuel tank after severe damage. Its important to drain the energy from the battery after a crash that compromises the batterys integrity. GM and NHTSA's focus and research continue to be on battery performance, handling, storage and disposal after a crash.
Even though there have been no customer incidents, we're taking steps to ensure your peace of mind. If you are in any way uncomfortable driving your Volt as a result of this information, we want to make it right. We will provide you a GM vehicle to drive until this issue is resolved. Contact your Volt Advisor to make arrangements or to answer your questions. If you are not aware of your specific Volt Advisor, the contact information is: phone: 877-4-VOLT-INFO (877-486-5846) email: Voltda101@gmexpert.com.
We take enormous pride in Volt and what it representsa new era of electric vehicles that can reduce dependence on gas, reduce air pollution, and more. Ongoing collaboration between the government, manufacturers and other stakeholders will enhance post-crash protocols and accelerate acceptance of electric vehicles.
There is nothing more important to us at General Motors than the safety of our customers. We will continue to aid the NHTSA investigation in every way possible.
We stand 100% behind the quality and safety of the Chevrolet Volt - now and always.
Thank you for being a Volt owner. By the way I am also a Volt owner; my daughter drives it every day and she will continue to do so.
President GM North America and Volt Owner (#1457)