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DATE News (chronologically)
12/03/11
automotive
Engineers puzzled why Volt batteries catch fire days/weeks after crash  General Motors engineers are studying two post-crash-test fires in the Chevrolet Volt's battery to learn more fundamentals about electric vehicles, GM product chief Mary Barra said Friday.

Volt last week became the subject of a government safety investigation, following two fires in Volt batteries that had sat around for at least a week after being punctured in federal crash tests. Those fires are the only ones to start in a Volt's lithium-ion battery.

GM and government engineers are working together, "just trying to understand what happened," Barra told the Automotive Press Association. GM has said the fires could have been prevented by draining the battery after the crashes, which GM promises to send engineers to do after any real-world crash.

That's one reason Barra thinks electric vehicles are still ready for mainstream sales, even as engineers continue to learn about them.

"We forget all that we've learned about (gasoline-powered) cars over the last hundred years," she said.

Even after decades of research into the internal combustion engine, around 200,000 gasoline-powered cars caught fire in the U.S. last year.

The Volt blazes could have started from coolant that leaked from the punctured battery case and interacted with electronics. Once engineers determine the cause, GM may make design changes to make the battery "more robust," Barra said.

"It's just kind of a detective game to say, 'Is there something we can do to protect from this situation?' " she said.

[Editor's Note: Gasoline and diesel vehicles catch fire regularly after an accident, sometimes burning their trapped victims to a crispy fry and they are worrying about Volt Batteries that catch fire a week or more later after an accident while the car sits in a scrap heap? America has lost its way when it can't see the forrest through the trees. People are burning to death in petrol fueled cars and there is all this hoopla about delayed fires in Volt Batteries? Perhaps this stir is all being funded by the big oil companies who do not want to see electric cars become popular, thereby reducing their billions in profits from gasoline.]
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