A General Motors executive is downplaying the potential effects of last week's explosion of a prototype battery pack in Michigan on sales of plug-in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in, saying that high gas prices will continue to fuel sales momentum.
Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet's global marketing efforts, said at a Detroit charity event that the battery involved was subject to extreme stress testing unlikely to be replicated in real-world driving and didn't involve a battery that would be used in a Volt, according to The Detroit Bureau. The explosion injured six workers at a GM plant in Warren, Michigan, according to the publication.
Additionally, Design News interviewed a number of engineering experts who said the public shouldn't assume that the accident indicates that the batteries are explosive, noting that the accident was closer to a "fire" than an "explosion" and that the batteries themselves were intact after the accident.
GM's hoping the incident doesn't curtail the Chevrolet Volt's hard-earned sales momentum. Last month, GM sold a monthly-record 2,289 Volts, which was more than three times the numbers from a year before. Higher sales are causing GM to shorten a previously scheduled production shutdown of the Volt to four weeks from five.
Last year, Volt's sales were likely hampered by a vehicle fire that took place weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a crash test on the car. NHTSA said earlier this year that plug-in vehicles don't pose a greater fire risk than gas-powered cars.