In the aftermath of a Chevrolet Volt catching fire at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration test facility, NHTSA may move to require electric vehicle batteries to be drained after major wrecks. The Detroit Free Press reports that the agency is contemplating issuing a ruling, but a decision has yet to be made.

General Motors' position on the fire is that the battery should have been drained after NHTSA crash-tested the car, a preventative measure the automaker says it recommends.

NHTSA's inquiry involves other carmakers who use lithium-ion battery packs, not just GM. According to the report, the agency is reviewing the automaker's responses, which likely pertain to the feasibility of requiring first-responders to drain battery packs. The Detroit Free Press says GM must currently deploy a team to drain Volt batteries, though a GM spokesman says a tool to drain batteries may become available to dealerships next year.

The safety of electric vehicle batteries and the unique dangers they pose to first responders have been an ongoing concern since the first hybrids hit the market over a decade ago. The market's shift toward lithium-ion batteries and an increase in the size of battery packs have only drawn the issue into starker focus.


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  • 87 Comments
      Autothoughts
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is sensationalist for Autoblog to not note the fact that the fire was 3 weeks after the test, even in this follow up post. It is a key piece of information that without it infers that the fire was immediate. This prompted people to defend GM on this site, thus increasing the comments posted by people having to state this fact. In fact it got me to post a comment just to state this point. Nothing like selective media...
      tenspeeder
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can see Dateline trying to reenact this story and making it appear that the fire happened at the time of the crash
      09GT
      • 3 Years Ago
      The fire occurred 3 WEEKS after it was crash-tested. I don't think any first-responders would be around. Maybe body-shops and junkyards should be made aware.
      stclair5211
      • 3 Years Ago
      The new policy is, "Don't buy a 45k car that gets 38mpg and will need a 5k battery in 5 years." Yes, I know less the government socialist kickback.
        invmartyc
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        Let me guess, a republican? You guys always make things political. I guess the Bush "Tax Incentive" checks were also socialism?
          tmachine2
          • 3 Years Ago
          @invmartyc
          RepubliCons don't know what socialism is. They confuse an economic system with a political system. You can be a democracy and have a socialist economic system like France, Canada, Germany, etc. Most cons think socialism is communism. Low-information voters.
      Dave Estey
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM to the world: "No worries guys, we'll come up with a device to drain lithium-ion batteries that ALL emergency response vehicles will now HAVE to carry. And we promise it won't cost tooooooo much." NHTSA crashed the Nissan LEAF and it didn't catch fire.
        fragilecow
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave Estey
        Learn to f'n read, and use your new found ability to do so. The battery caught fire THREE WEEKS AFTER THE CRASH TEST. It did not get hit and burst, it did not come to a rest a start smoldering. It was hit, it passed with honors, and then three weeks of sitting in an open storage lot and not following manufacture directions of alerting GM and GM coming out to remove the battery, the car caught fire. READ THE DAMN ARTICLES FIRST BEFORE COMMENTING, DON'T BE SO DAMN LAZY.
        DrEvil
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave Estey
        NHTSA crashed the Nissan LEAF and it didn't catch fire. I guess I don't have to tell you how stupid that statement makes you sound? I'm sure you could crash 100 other Volts and they probably won't catch fire, unless the same piece of metal that grounded the battery gets bent in the same place. So you know, My Audi A6 caught fire, because the battery which was mounted under the rear seat, was shorted out when someone who happened to weigh enough (300+ lbs) sat on it, causing the springs in the seat to hit the positive & negative terminals at the same time. That seat was sat in 100 times before with no problem.
          Renaurd
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DrEvil
          Wow, and that is scary, was anyone in the car when it happened?
          Sukairain
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DrEvil
          ", because the battery which was mounted under the rear seat, was shorted out when someone who happened to weigh enough (300+ lbs) sat on it, causing the springs in the seat to hit the positive & negative terminals at the same time." ^ If you read that then we can probably safely assume there were at least 2 people in the car, likely 3. So I am crossing the Volt off my shopping list and Audi A6. Just in case...
          DrEvil
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DrEvil
          Yes, but all got out safely.
        Sukairain
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave Estey
        That's why I'll rather get the Leaf, not to mention it's the ONLY true electric vehicle on the market. I don't know where GM gets off calling the Volt a EV when it's actually a different type of hybrid.
      RB
      • 3 Years Ago
      That thing is BUTT UGLY! They all should be burned at the stake!
        bvz
        • 3 Years Ago
        @RB
        Well, technically it was burned in the lot, but I take your meaning. On the other hand, I think it is a pretty decent looking car that safely survived a major impact with flying colors. Also, my butt is quite attractive I have been told. Adriana Lima has an awesome butt. You need to qualify your statement. Perhaps you meant to compare the Volt to your own butt?
      IBx27
      • 3 Years Ago
      The fire happened 3 WEEKS AFTER the crash because the government was TOO STUPID TO DRAIN THE BATTERY.
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Before all the idiots come in here and bad mouth either the Volt or EVs in general, why don't you go compare the number of Ferraris and Lamborghinis that have caught fire over the past year versus a CRASH TESTED Volt.
        Renaurd
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Last year in my on the interstate near my hometown a mother, her daughter and granddaughter die in a crash when they lost control and hit a tree and burst into flames. This accident only made the local press.
          wilkesgm
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Renaurd
          You have mixed apples and oranges. Death happens all over the world, every day. If it had been a bus going off a cliff in the Andes, it would have made news. You are trying to justify a flawed technology by comparing it to a miniscule number of conventional cars that burn. MG's, post '77, tended to burn. It was the SU carbs. Swap them out with a Weber - no fire. Meaning other vehicles have had many years to establish what works. Electric cars are still experimental. What idiot attempts to put an experimental technology into the hands of innocent people before it is perfected. If this was a matter of private capital, they'd be sued out of existence. Because governments push this crap there is no way to stop it. What is it about the free market you don't understand. To refresh your memory, the opposite of a free market is a slave market. These cars should not yet be on the road - and even when they are perfected, they will be a rich-man's bauble because they are completely inferior to the internal combustion engine. How long does it take to recharge a battery if it goes dead? Hours. How long does it take to put a gallon of gas in your car if you run out? A minute. Can you carry a battery for one of these cars? Nope. Weight of a gallon of gas. 8 pounds. (4 kilos for you Euros out there) There has to be a compelling reason for people to use less efficient technology and no ushc justification has been provided. That's why the US government is blocking oil exploration - they have to in order to justify this stupid waste of money.
          bvz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Renaurd
          @wilkesgm Wow, which conservative blog gave you some ineffective talking points and sent you here? You suggest that the Volt is flawed technology because one burned vs. a "miniscule" number of ICE cars that burned. So one is now a larger number than "minuscule" (which, by the way, is the correct spelling. You might invest in some less flawed technology like a spell checker) You suggest that there is no way to stop the government from "pushing" out the Volt. And that if it was a free market (vs. a "slave market" - wtf are you even writing about?) that these cars shouldn't be on the road. Could you elaborate? Were the purchasers of the Volt compelled to buy the car by the government? Is that your argument? Or are you suggesting that no automobile has ever been anything less than perfect up till now (now that the government is somehow "pushing" these cars on people against their will). Why are concerned about how long it takes to charge the Volt's battery when it dies? Is it because you have no idea what you are talking about and don't know that the Volt is a hybrid automobile? That it runs on both gasoline AND electricity? This less efficient technology that returns on average 1000 miles per tank of gas... is that what you are considering flawed technology? Or are you politically threatened by the existence of a new type of propulsion system that by rights shouldn't be politically sensitive at all - except that you were told it was and sent out into the culture wars without much preparation?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          [blocked]
      Buzzskyline
      • 3 Years Ago
      Did they park it too close to a Chevy Spark?
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        bvz
        • 3 Years Ago
        How much additional electricity will we need? And at what times per day/night? How much excess production capability do we have? Where did you get the number 100 from? It seems to me if you are going to suggest we are headed for trouble, you might actually throw in some quantification so that we can see just how bad it will be.
      David Lloyd
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another GM product rushed to market before fully developed. Now the government has to bail them out again to cover their mess.
      tp101056
      • 3 Years Ago
      I had my Volt for three weeks now. I have 1356 miles on it and have only used 6.4 gallons of gas. The car is as well built as my secretary's IS 350 Lexus. The car's crash rating is 5 star and one 4 star. Well to some small minded people the world is still flat.
        michaelnel4449
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tp101056
        Very good, I say bring on the electric cars. If mud heads want to keep buying gasoline, that's fine. I'm sure gas guzzlers will be around for a few decades yet. We should have had many EV's to choose from by now, but the oil companies and GM killed the good car they had in the 90's. People loved them and wanted to buy them, so that technology would have been so much farther ahead today without the greedy bastards..
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