NHTSA investigates Volt battery fires
Federal officials say they are investigating the safety of lithium-ion battery in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt after a second battery fire following crash-testing of the electric car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that three Volt battery packs were crash-tested last week. In one instance, the battery caught fire afterward, and in another the battery emitted smoke and sparks.
Last May, a fire erupted in the battery of a Chevy Volt that had been damaged during a government crash test three weeks earlier. Last week's tests were an attempt to replicate the May fire.
NHTSA has opened a formal safety defect investigation of the batteries.
General Motors officials said previously that government officials didn't follow the carmaker's protocols for storing post-crash batteries.
The first battery tested last week didn't catch fire. But a battery test on Nov. 17 initially experienced a temporary temperature increase, and on Thursday caught fire. Another battery tested on Nov. 18, which was rotated 180 degrees within hours after the test, began to smoke and emit sparks shortly after the rotation.
The tests were conducted by NHTSA and the Energy and Defense departments at a defense facility near Hampton Roads, Va.
NHTSA learned of a possible fire risk involving damaged Volt batteries when a fire erupted in a Volt that was being stored in a parking lot a test facility in Burlington, Wis. The fire was severe enough to cause several other vehicles parked nearby to catch fire as well.
The car had been subjected to a side-impact crash test more than three weeks earlier, on May 12, during which the battery was punctured and its coolant line ruptured.
So far, no fires have been reported in Volts involved in roadway crashes, NHTSA said. More than 5,000 of the vehicles have been sold.
[Editor's Note: gasoline-powered engines are susceptible to fires after a crash as well. In fact sometimes they blow up. These batteries caught fire days after the crash test. We wonder if the mental midgets at the NHTSA made that comparison yet, or is this just another attempt to grab headlines to ensure they all justify their existence (jobs).]