More details are filtering in about yesterday's explosion at the General Motors Technical Center battery research lab in Warren, Michigan.

First, the number of people injured has climbed to five, with one taken to the hospital and four treated at the scene. The local deputy fire chief said none of the injuries were life-threatening. The fire department also told the local mayor that it was fumes from hydrogen sulfide that caused the explosion, but GM declined to comment on that aspect. We learned yesterday that a battery under "extreme testing" caused the explosion.

According to The Detroit News' David Shepardson on Twitter, "Chemical gases from the battery cells were released and ignited in the enclosed chamber. The battery itself was intact" and, "All areas of the Alternative Energy Center except for the battery lab and adjacent offices will operate normally on Thursday."

Unnamed sources have told the media that it was a prototype battery pack made by A123 that caused the fire. Fox News says that pack was being tested for use in the Chevy Spark EV and other all-electric vehicles. Batteries made by A123 were recently involved in a $55 million replacement effort in the Fisker Karma.


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  • 38 Comments
      Slipstream
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ah yes! Yet another Government Motors fiasco except people were hurt this time. We "don't" know the details? ...and from whom do you expect to get said details? The UAW? The administration? There's a long and pitiful track record here and I think we'll be seeing more of these accidents..........just wait till another homeowner's garage goes up in flames like the Connecticut Volt owners did last year........and no further "details" from GM about that accident yet over a year ago.......and you won't be hearing any information on that incident. BTW, did anyone catch the blurb last week about the payoff periods for various new technology cars? The Volt "only" takes 27 years to pay off the difference in purchase price between a Cruize and a Volt. A VW diesel, on the other hand, takes 2 years.........oh shucks, wait a minute, diesel fuel comes from the evil oil companies whereas electric power comes from........the evil utility companies? Government central planning strikes again. These things should be built using private money and tested using private purchases............maybe someday, electric cars will be practical but not now......and probably not in 10 years either. You need an infrastructure in place, delivering secure and dependable power (in copious amounts, I might add) BEFORE you start selling these cars. Look at California's power brownouts during a summer period and tell me that adding electric cars to the mix will improve anything...... Pathetic, GM, absolutely pathetic.
        Lemon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        How can you add infrastructure before there is demand? They go hand in hand and therefore need to grow together. Also, the Volt's payoff period is entirely dependent on the way you use it. A coworker drives a Volt and he's saving $400/mo in gas (his commute is 35 miles, he charges at work...only uses gas on long trips). $400/mo! That's more than my car payment on my Vette! Also, prices will come down as the technology matures. For example: TVs, computers, the VCR, DVD players, microwaves, etc, etc, etc. You do know that BEVs are the future, right? The Volt is just a stepping stone, and a good one at that.
        vince
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        Autoblog, how difficult would it be to start banning some trolls? They have been out in force lately.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        [blocked]
        Pete K
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Slipstream
        California brown outs...see Enron. Volt was not a government project. It was started at GM in 2006.
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      lulz so what were you saying about these being safe and not fire hazards lutz?
        Synthono
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        Gas cars can be fire hazards with an improperly designed tank as well. That's why you test things.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        Yeah, totally. I mean I'm certain GM never had a fire in one of their labs where they develop gasoline cars. Because those things are totally safe and can't catch fire.
        Pete K
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ELG
        "U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year in 2003-2007. These fires caused an average of 480 civilian deaths, 1,525 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage."
      broadfeetcesar
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is such a big coverup its not even funny. This is totally related to the Volt. Duhhhh.. and now their completely diverting all the attention to some a123 company and battery and a vehicle called the spark. The next explosion wil be blamed on a vehicle called "oops"... Who knows if this comment will even end up on this site. But im 100% sure this is related to the "VOLT". the government is panicking because the volt is not selling and with all the negativity and PR the Volt received last year and this article pointing a finger at the VOLT would mean its DOOM.. Ill give credit to GM "PR" department for trying to get a whole handle on this situation. Kudos to you guys. But try better next time. i would easily think this TeMPle user on these comments are GM PR department themselves.
        JimCeezAll
        • 2 Years Ago
        @broadfeetcesar
        t"to some A123 company" That is partly owned by GE. Here's the press announcement from A123 that they were selected to provided the Spark EV battery. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-08/gm-seeks-out-batteries-less-volatile-than-volt-s-for-spark-model.html Get your facts from somewhere besides Faux Newz or Rush Limballs before you post on Autoblog. We're car people .
        Will
        • 2 Years Ago
        @broadfeetcesar
        You really are an idiot.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        johnb
        • 2 Years Ago
        LOL. yeah amtrak pulls right up in front of your house eh? have fun walking 25 miles to catch a train.
        The_Zachalope
        • 2 Years Ago
        And how do you propose one gets to an Amtrak station?
        Alex
        • 2 Years Ago
        GE owns A123....
      Hanson Bro
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Chevy Spark EV" Aptly named.
      Jake
      • 2 Years Ago
      As a product development engineer I frequently test prototypes to find their breaking point under a variety of stresses, including shock, vibration, temperature, electrical stress, humidity, etc. Sometimes things go bang, or catch fire, or whatever. We have to know what it will withstand before we sell it to the public. Why is this news? I would expect any company to perform destructive stress testing.
        darkness
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jake
        Because the Fox news monkeys feins need their fix, thats why its news.
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jake
        Do you expect explosions to injure your employee's whenever you test your products? I'm sure you might prepare for it, but to expect it is ridiculous.
      Alex
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wouldn't be so quick to blame A123 or anyone really. There's a reason its called "extreme testing." Someone has to make these fail so they know what not to do when they put it in the car.
        SatinSheetMetal
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex
        There's a reason it's called "daily driving". Except the batteries they provided for the Fisker Karma didn't really hold up to that either.
      JaredN
      • 2 Years Ago
      Explosions happen now and then during battery development and testing. That is why the labs are constructed the way they are with blowout panels. So this isn't terribly surprising.
        DB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JaredN
        The doors and windows are NOT designed to blowout. They are designed to withstand the force of the explosion to keep the people on the other side safe. An 8 in thick steel door is not a "blowout panel". There are venting systems that are design to direct the force of an explosion upward and channel it away from the people on the other side of the windows and doors. The Warren fire commissionor told the Free Press that the building suffered "significant structural damage to the building” from the blast. He also goes on to say “But safety systems in the building directed the blast force upward and thus saving the structure.” This was a lot more serious than your typical engine-dyno blowout. http://www.freep.com/article/20120411/BUSINESS0101/120411015/explosion-GM-Tech-Center?odyssey=nav%7Chead
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JaredN
        [blocked]
      lad
      • 2 Years Ago
      One should not blame A123 unless you know the details of the testing. Don' jump to conclusions if you don't know the facts.
      Randy
      • 2 Years Ago
      A123 seems to be better named. A 3......2........1 with all the problems it's having.
      Dark Gnat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Are we certain the battery pack is meant for the Spark, or is Fox making up "facts" again?
        Temple
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dark Gnat
        Its for the Spark EV. A123 doesn't supply GM with batteries for the Volt, LG Chem does. Also, both GM and A123 have announced that that A123 will be supplying batteries to the Spark EV: http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/chevrolet/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/Oct/1012_SparkEV
      BlackDynamiteOn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Haters like to question why Toyota hasn't rushed to use Lithium batteries in their hybrids Toyota has stated one of the reasons why is the lack or reliability, relative to nickel-hydride. Prius is their Golden Goose, and they won't risk it's sterling reputation on volatile elements that haven't been fully vetted for durability. They are testing lithium overseas, and have just added it to the low-volume Prius Plug-In, but the ends don't justify the means. People think putting Lithium in adds greatly to fuel economy. That is a myth....... BD
        Tagbert
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BlackDynamiteOn
        It's really just about price. In Japan and the EU, Toyota is putting lithium batteries in their new Prius V, but not in the US where they are trying to keep prices down.
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