Posted Nov 11th 2011 1:29PM
Related Gallery2011 Chevrolet Volt
As a tipster put it: "Crap."
Even though there is plenty of evidence that the Chevy 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 centre 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. The NHTSA's issued a statement to Bloomberg that said:
Indeed. We'll have more on this as details are released.
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.