GM comes up with a fix for Chevrolet Volt batteries

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 6, 2012

General Motors would have to take steps to repair a design flaw that resulted to some Chevrolet Volt batteries catching fire after being subjected to government safety tests. GM will strengthen the steel that could be found around the Volt's battery pack to end the likelihood that it will be punctured. There will also a sensor to the battery pack to check for coolant leaks, according to GM global product chief Mary Barra.

The initial cases were in June and November after being driven by the Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There is a puncture in the side of the battery pack that permitted a small amount of coolant to leak into the pack. The coolant gets to interact with electronics inside the pack, making them light up from a few days to as long as Ayala BMW later.

NHTSA said that the probe remains openadn it is continuing. He hopes to get and assess information on the post-crash fire risk in these vehicles. Affected owners may visit their Chevrolet dealership for the free repair, which should be done in mid February, officials said. This process is a “voluntary "customer satisfaction program,” and not a recall, Barra emphasized.

While it has the appearance of a midsize and upscale sport sedan, the new Chevrolet Volt has a stance that highlights performance and thus communicates the electrically driven capabilities it has. Contributing to this look is the sculpted belt line, wheels that have been placed more outward, and the premium execution. It helps that the wheelbase is now at 2,685 mm (105.7 in.) and the track is now wider with the front measuring 1,556 mm (61.2 in.) and the rear at 1,578 mm (62.1 in.).

On the interior, this premium 5-door sedan, delivers qualities that customers expect like safety features, convenience, comfort, and clearly, space. It even has those 40/40 folding seats in the rear and storage compartments.

There will a number of colors offered for its interior as well as options for the trim and lighting. These offers are not like those in the past but will still have the dual cockpit design, a tradition that Chevrolet maintained. These flush relationships, in addition to the element-to-element and inside out gap are the best in its class. Designers also made sure not to forget about the underhood compartment.

Each of the parts displays a high standard with a style that complements the other parts of the model, bearing the same colors and grained surfaces. In order to come up with the shape of the Volt, Chevrolet partnered with experts in aerodynamics using the wind tunnel at GM. The result is that the design team and the engineering team have created what may be in the history of Chevrolet its most aerodynamic model.

This is achieved by lowering the energy required to overpower air resistance. In fact, the changes helped the Volt get an electric range of 8 miles with extended range of 50 miles. Director of Design Bob Boniface shared that since the Volt can be considered as groundbreaking, the company wanted a vehicle that was dynamic and at the same time smooth.

A quick look at this car and one will immediately see how the execution is both refined and highly technical, he added. He continued by saying that by having a number of interrelating surfaces, it allows for crisp and clean creases and edges.

On the rear section, having sharp edges and a spoiler that has been delicately designed allow air flow to be controlled. Meanwhile the front fascia is flush and rounded and by combining it with the grille and narrowed corners, drag is lowered as the air can move around the car easily. The windshield has an aggressive rake to it and with the back glass, also lowers drag and turbulence.

Its unique liftgate in the rear comes in gloss black and has the company’s bowtie with a Volt insignia as well. There is also the Volt insignia on its forward quarter panel.

There will be six colors made available for the exterior which include Black Metallic, Cyber Gray Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat, Silver Ice Metallic, and White Diamond Tricoat. The sixth color to be included is Viridian Joule Tricoat, the name of which was the winner in a contest held nationally in 2009.

Press Release

GM Announces Enhancements to Chevrolet Volt

General Motors today announced enhancements to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevrolet Volt that would further protect the battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe crash.

The enhancements come in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Preliminary Evaluation to examine post-severe crash battery performance.

NHTSA opened its Preliminary Evaluation on Nov. 25 following a severe-impact lab test on a battery pack that resulted in an electrical fire six days later. The test was conducted to reproduce a coolant leak that occurred in a full-scale vehicle crash test last May that resulted in an electrical fire three weeks later.

The Volt is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and has earned other safety awards from key third-party organizations. Through the first 11 months of 2011, Volt owners accumulated nearly 20 million miles without an incident similar to the results in the NHTSA tests.

“The Volt has always been safe to drive. Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers’ peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash,” said Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of Global Product Development.

GM will conduct a Customer Satisfaction Program to further protect the Volt battery from the possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe side crash. Modifications will:

  • Strengthen an existing portion of the Volt’s vehicle safety structure to further protect the battery pack in a severe side collision.
  • Add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels.
  • Add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill.
  • GM conducted four successful crash tests between Dec. 9 and 21 of Volts with the structural enhancement. The enhancement performed as intended. There was no intrusion into the battery pack and no coolant leakage in any of the tests.

Volt customers will be individually notified when the modifications are available for their vehicles. The enhancements are being incorporated into the Volt manufacturing process as production resumes this month.

“We’re focused on one thing right now: doing what’s right by our customers,” said GM North America President Mark Reuss. “We’ll live up to our commitment to make sure our customers are delighted with their purchase.”

Vehicle electrification technologies are important to future of the automotive industry, which is why GM will continue its leadership role in helping the Society of Automotive Engineers develop standards that will help tow truck operators, salvage yards and vehicle recyclers in the proper handling of electric vehicle components. GM will help develop educational materials that can be used by these stakeholders in the future.

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