2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt front 3/4 view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt rear 3/4 view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt front 3/4 view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt rear 3/4 view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt side view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt rear view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt front view

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt grille

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt headlight

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt fog light

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt badge

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt side mirror

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt wheel

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt taillight

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt badge

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt badge

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging converter

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging converter

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt engine

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt engine

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt engine

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt engine detail

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt interior

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt front seats

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt gauge cluster

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt gauge cluster

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt gauge cluster

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt gauge cluster

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt instrument panel

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging info

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging info

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging info

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging info

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt audio controls

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt power button

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt seat detail

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt door panel

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt door panel

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port button

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt rear seats

  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2011 Chevrolet Volt rear cargo area

As a tipster put it: "Crap."

Even though there is plenty of evidence that the Chevrolet Volt is a safe car (one just protected its occupants in a recent crash with a bus), there are now new and seemingly legitimate worries about the safety of the 16-kWh battery pack after a crash. Bloomberg reports that a Volt that was parked at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test center recently caught fire, burning nearby vehicles. The Volt had been put through a side-impact crash test three weeks prior and an official told Bloomberg that investigators determined the battery was indeed the source of the fire. Apparently, NHTSA reps are talking with "all automakers" with lithium-ion vehicle for sale (or coming soon) about the safety of their battery packs.

On the one hand, this is bad news for people who already have worries about the safety of plug-in vehicle. On the other hand, a crashed car, whether powered by gasoline or lithium, isn't exactly a safe item. Given that this fire follows a second garage fire involving a Volt (whose cause has not yet been determined), we expect a spike of "plug-in cars are bad" news soon. Whether this is warranted or not is another question. NHTSA has issued a statement to Bloomberg that said:

Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, all vehicles – both electric and gasoline-powered – have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash.

Indeed. We'll have more on this as details are released.

UPDATE: General Motors has released an official statement, which has been added after the jump.
Show full PR text
GM Statement in Response to NHTSA Investigation

2011-11-11

DETROIT – The following statement can be attributed Jim Federico, General Motors chief engineer for electric vehicles:

"First and foremost, I want to make this very clear: the Volt is a safe car. We are working cooperatively with NHTSA as it completes its investigation. However, NHTSA has stated that based on available data, there's no greater risk of fire with a Volt than a traditional gasoline-powered car.

"Safety protocols for electric vehicles are clearly an industry concern. At GM, we have safety protocols to depower the battery of an electric vehicle after a significant crash.

"We are working with other vehicle manufacturers, first responders, tow truck operators, and salvage associations with the goal of implementing industry-wide protocols."


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 107 Comments
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      They should have interted the battery some time in the 3 weeks after they crashed the car. That was kinda dumb, NHTSA. 'we expect a spike of "plug-in cars are bad" news soon' And apparently you aren't above kicking it off either.
        Narom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Exactly. It's akin to writing off a petrol car, leaving it for three weeks with the car battery connected and fuel still in the tank, waiting for the damage to eventually kick in. Surely the power supply should be removed straight away?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Narom
          [blocked]
        Rotation
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Why did I say interted? I meant inerted.
      nitrostreet
      • 3 Years Ago
      Imagine if ALL car fires were reported on, I just searched my local newspaper and came up with 11 car fires in the last month, 4 of them fatal.
      Timothy Tibbetts
      • 3 Years Ago
      Going to be interesting to see the outcome since you know the NHTSA will be investigating the cause. I do wonder if it had anything to do with crashing it... 3 weeks. Weird.
      FriskyDingo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Okay, completely disregarding that it's a Volt in question, since when it is surprising that a severely wrecked vehicle may catch fire??? I mean, holy sh!t. Not like non-EV's don't have fuel/oil/myriad other compounds that may catch fire....
      nitrostreet
      • 3 Years Ago
      (From the National Fire Protection Association) "In 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year. These fires caused an average of 480 civilian deaths." "On average, 31 highway vehicle fires were reported per hour. These fires killed one person a day." http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/VehicleFactSheet.pdf
        razorpit
        • 3 Years Ago
        @nitrostreet
        Looks like those statistics are going to spike in the near future if the government continues its push to get us all driving these things.
          wendygoerl
          • 3 Years Ago
          @razorpit
          Not to mention the government's slavebelt push and the carmakers' trend toward burying the buckles in the seat, where the release is more easily obstructed and often impossible to reach with the offside hand if the belt is cinched.
      sstowes
      • 3 Years Ago
      Articles like these don't really help the stigma. EVERY manufacturer has had at least one car catch fire under some kind of circumstance with some kind of pattern of variables involved. It's one thing to suggest there's a genuine issue in which a fire is inevitable, regardless of the variables involved. That's what recalls and TSBs are for. It's an entirely different thing trying to argue because one car caught fire, every car like it will catch fire.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Xedicon
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well... this isn't the first time lithium ion batteries have been discovered to be prone to catching fire or exploding. Sometime mid 2000s Dell had a battery recall because of lithium ion batteries suddenly bursting into flames, on someone's lap... That being said, who knows why this one Volt of all the ones that have been wrecked for testing had a problem. I for one am not willing to say it is a problem until they meet the "Ferrari Fire Standard" (FFS). As the industry leader in spontaneous automotive combustion, other auto makers can only hope to aspire to the same level of fastidious flaming required to be at the top!
      ChrisDPrice
      • 3 Years Ago
      What? Did everybody think the Volt might be the first trouble-free automobile on the planet? Let's not rush to judgment, my friends. Let go of your bias, and let the actual facts arrive. That will take a few hours, and I know how hard it is to not just type the first thing that comes to your head. It's all inspiring.
      adika3z
      • 3 Years Ago
      OH NO NO NO thank this chevy volt car. it is too ugly and weakness
        • 3 Years Ago
        @adika3z
        [blocked]
      Sukairain
      • 3 Years Ago
      425lbs of lithium ion battery sitting right next to a 8 gallon gasoline tank with fuel lines and all running right across the entire length of the battery pack. Not exactly the brightest idea of all.
        You guy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Sukairain
        Well its not a bad idea, assuming that all the things in question are fully intact. When you crush a battery pack at 35mph of side impact, then you have some cause for concern. Have you ever taken a battery pack from an RC car and smacked it with a hammer? I had a friend do it to a NiMH pack and it started his garbage can on fire a few days later in the heat of summer. This is non-news. NHTSA is to blame for not pulling the damaged pack.
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      Fox is going to have a field day. Should be good for about a month's worth of news headlines.
        Renaurd
        • 3 Years Ago
        @throwback
        You are exactly right, you'll get a thumbs down though, for telling the truth, truth is a scarce thing around here.
          Krishan Mistry
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Renaurd
          Not always. Eventually, with enough people, idiotic comments lose their upvotes by trolls and other idiots, and get plunged into the negatives. And sensible comments average out with the majoritt agreeing with them.
    • Load More Comments