By Jennifer Geiger on January 5, 2012
In an effort to reduce the risk of electrical fire after a severe accident, Chevrolet has issued what it calls a customer satisfaction initiative on the Volt. General Motors is voluntarily recalling nearly 8,000 Volts to re-engineer the battery coolant system. GM is also making structural enhancements to the vehicle to protect the battery in the event of a crash.
The modifications are an answer to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s findings that severe-impact crashes could lead to a coolant leak and electrical fire. Lab tests late last year on the battery pack led to an electrical fire six days later. A similar occurrence happened after the Volt was involved in a major crash in summer 2011.
The enhancements include strengthening the structural elements that protect the battery in a side collision, adding a new sensor to the coolant system reservoir to monitor the coolant level and installing a tamper-resistant bracket to the coolant reservoir to prevent overfilling.
GM ran several successful tests on modified Volts and reported that the coolant did not leak. The modified Volt also passed NHTSA’s tests. GM is asking owners to return to their dealership so these modifications can be installed. The automaker contends that the Volt has always been safe to drive, but it’s adding these enhancements to give drivers peace of mind after an accident.
News of the Volt’s electrical fire issues hasn’t hampered its sales. GM reported that it sold 7,671 Volts in 2011, off from its 10,000-unit sales target. However, December was the Volt’s best-ever month with just over 1,500 Volts sold.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer