In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that a severe impact and intrusion into the Volt’s battery assembly can over time result in an electrical fire. After the initial crash test, it took three weeks for the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack to catch on fire, according to NHTSA.
The May incident was recreated three times by NHTSA more than two weeks ago; so far, the preliminary investigation has shown that one vehicle battery pack ignited while another began to smoke and emit sparks shortly after the crash test.
In a letter to Volt owners, GM says that ”electrical energy left in a battery after a severe crash can be similar to leaving gasoline in a leaking fuel tank after severe damage.” Accordingly, it’s important that the battery is drained after a crash where battery integrity has been compromised, the automaker said.
Neither GM nor NHTSA are aware of any Volt roadway crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire. The combination of a severe impact and a significant amount of time to allow a vehicle fire to begin are a rare set of circumstances, GM said.
GM will send letters to all 5,329 Volt owners and to Chevy dealers, who currently have 3,086 Volts in stock. GM has produced 11,448 Volts to date, according to David Shepardson at the Detroit News. GM is also considering some yet unspecified design changes to boost Volt safety, Shepardson reported.
If you are a concerned Volt owner, call GM at 877-486-5846 or email GM at Voltda101@gmexpert.com.