Monday, November 28, 2011

Chevrolet Volt Batteries Catch Fire After Crash Tests

NHTSA launches formal probe into safety of Volt battery.

The New York Times (11/25, B6, Bunkley, Subscription Publication) reported, "Federal safety regulators on Friday said they have begun a formal defect investigation of the Chevrolet Volt because a second battery caught fire after a crash simulation." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has "been examining batteries in several plug-in cars since a June fire involving a Volt that had been heavily damaged in a government crash test." The agency said that "on Thursday, a Volt battery pack that was intentionally damaged Nov. 17 as part of that testing caught fire."

Bloomberg News (11/25, Keane, Welch) reported that the NHTSA is "is concerned that damage to the Volt's batteries as part of three tests that are explicitly designed to replicate real-world crash scenarios have resulted in fire," the agency stated on its website. Still, the NHTSA "said it doesn't know of any crashes outside of testing that have led to battery-related fires in Volts or other cars powered by lithium-ion batteries. Chevy Volt owners whose vehicles have not been in a serious crash don't need to be concerned, the agency said."

The AP (11/27) reported, "GM, which was informed of the investigation on Friday, said in a statement that the Volt 'is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash.'" These "latest fires are in addition to a battery fire in a crash-tested Volt six months ago."

GM spent $1.78 million on lobbying during third quarter. The AP (11/23) reported, "General Motors Co. spent 29 percent less lobbying the federal government in the third quarter this year than last, but it still spent $1.78 million to influence legislators and agencies on gas mileage and pollution regulations, electric vehicle infrastructure funding, distracted driving regulations and other issues." Data show that GM "spent $2.49 million on lobbying in last year's third quarter and $1.94 million in the second quarter of this year." The automaker "had a dozen lobbyists dealing with Congress, the White House and federal agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Energy, Defense, Transportation and State departments; and other parts of the government."

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