Post-crash fires in Chevy hybrid not a concern
A months-long National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration investigation into post-crash battery fires in the Chevrolet Volt has wrapped.
Conclusion? "No discernible defect trend exists," the NHTSA reports. "And the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts."
Basically, not only was the Volt fine all along, the voluntary upgrade GM's offering Volt customers makes the hybrid-electric vehicle even safer.
The investigation was kicked off last year after two Chevrolet Volts caught fire a few weeks after they were used in NHTSA side-impact crash tests. The cause of the fires was determined to be leaky battery fluid causing a short circuit; GM alleged it may have had something to do with the NHTSA not following the Volt's post-crash protocol.
"Electric vehicles have specific attributes that should be made clear to consumers, the emergency response community, and tow truck operators and storage facilities," the NHTSA said in their statement January 22.
Of course, "generally all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash," they noted. (Several car blogs pointed out this double standard a while back.)
No real-world post-crash fires were ever reported.
The Volt's reputation has, of course, been damaged by the investigation; it's uncertain if Volt sales will ever recover. And by "recover" I mean, y'know, start to happen. Volt sales have been notoriously low, even before the investigation.
(General Motors and NHTSA)