Chevy Volt Fire Prompts EV-Specific NHTSA Safety Measures

In the wake of the Chevy Volt fire at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) test facility earlier this year, the governmental organization has been pushing to require EV battery drainage after car accidents, The Detroit Free Press reported. The NHTSA determined that damage to the Volt's lithium-ion battery during a May crash test caused the vehicle fire. In the next few weeks, in collaboration with the Department of Energy, NHTSA will test the Volt's lithium-ion batteries further to come up with EV-specific solutions for improving the safety of battery-powered cars damaged in collisions.

General Motors supports the safety measure, given the threat high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs can pose if left untreated, but maintains that the Volt is a safe car.

"NHTSA's recommendations are consistent with our protocol: tow truck and salvage yard operators should store a damaged electric vehicle in a secure location and contact the manufacturer for further information," said Rob Peterson, GM's Volt and EV technologies communications manager. "In the case of the Volt, we (GM) will de-energize the battery."

Because of the growing number of EVs on the road containing lithium-ion batteries that could endanger rescue workers and those involved in an accident, new safety protocols have become increasingly of the essence.

"As manufacturers continue to develop vehicles of any kind--electric, gasoline, or diesel--it is critical that they take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of drivers--and first responders--both during and after a crash," said Jose Ucles, a spokesman for the NHTSA.

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