Holden Volt poses no extra fire risk, says US goverment

A United States government safety investigation into the Chevy/Holden Volt has cleared the extended-range electric vehicle of claims that it is more at risk of fire than conventionally powered cars.

Chevy Volt battery insulation changes

(Credit: Chevrolet)

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Friday that it has ended an inquiry into potential safety problems with the battery-run Chevy Volt.

"Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles," the agency said in a statement.

Last year, around the time when CNET Australia had its first drive of the Holden Volt, the NHTSA started a safety defect investigation, after a side-impact collision test caused a fire three weeks after the test. That and subsequent tests led GM to make modifications to reinforce the battery pack and the coolant system.

The impact test caused a leak in the liquid-coolant system, and, after three weeks, the coolant crystallised. Current from the battery, which had not been drained, caused the coolant to ignite.

The NHTSA said that "no discernible defect trend" exists, and that the changes GM made should lessen the potential for problems.

There have not been any real-world battery-related fires with Volts. All vehicles run some risk of fires in a collision, the NHTSA noted. Consumers, emergency-response workers and tow-truck operators should be aware of the attributes of electric vehicles to be safe, and take safety precautions, such as draining the battery after a severe collision.


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