Safety regulators to begin a formal investigation of the fire risk of Chevrolet Volts

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 9, 2011

A memo on the safercar.gov Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it is taking a closer look at whether the Chevrolet Volts pose a fire risk. The lithium ion batteries of several Volts that were subjected to crash testing had caught fire three weeks after the side-impact tests.

The U.S. safety regulators want a comprehensive understanding of the damage on the battery due to the impact, including how welded materials are affected.

This evaluation request is dated Dec. 6. According to the NHTSA, there are five Volts placed at its Vehicle Research and Test Center in Ohio, where it will inspect and study the possible damage to the battery tunnel on the driver and passenger sides of the vehicles.

If there would be more testing, they will be set at a later date. The agency has been working together with General Motors engineers to establish the cause of a fire in June that involves the Volt.

The hybrid plug-in car caught fire while it was in a storage facility. Three other vehicles caught fire. More testing done on the week of Nov. 14 resulted to another fire. The following week, the NHTSA said that a safety probe has been opened. The memo from NHTSA said that it is testing for a potential flaw that may cause the battery to catch fire after it gets damaged during a crash.

Powertrain

Inside the new Chevrolet Volt comes the new Voltec power system. This propulsion technology is basically a combination of a highly efficient range-extending engine plus the outstanding performance of an electric drive unit.

Due to this, the new Chevrolet Volt can last up to 350 total miles. With its long battery life, the amount of energy it supplies is sufficient enough to propel the vehicle’s 149hp electric drive using only its remaining energy.

The battery pack consists of 5.5ft, 198.1kg 16-kWh lithium ion and is made exclusively in GM’s battery assembly plant in Brownstown Township, Michigan. With this, the new Chevrolet Volt’s electric driving offers zero fuel and tailpipe emissions with 25-50 miles to spare. But then that would also depend on the type of terrain, driving mode as well as the type of temperature currently on the road.

Each Volt is designed to provide customers with the most reliable, durable and high performing battery that is also safe and made of high quality materials. Also, the battery presents a better value since it comes with an eight-year warranty that is equivalent to 100,000 miles. From 2007, the engineering team has already accomplished over 1 million miles and 4 million hrs. of validity testing. GM wants to ensure that all Volt batteries (with its 9 modules and 288 prismatic cells) met all the specific standards for quality. Each battery pack has a total of 161 components, 95% of which is designed and made by General Motors.

Even GM’s executive director Micky Bly is already aware how their customers are starting to see the advantage when it comes to technologies that don’t depend on much fuel. This has brought them to deliver only the best value for their consumers.

The new Chevrolet Volt seamlessly switches to extended range mode as soon as the battery energy is worn out. By then, the power is reversed from a highly advanced 84hp 1.4L gasoline powered engine (onboard) towards the electric drive unit. Thus, the Volt gets 310 extra powerful miles ahead.

Indeed, Chevrolet has the most exciting electric powered vehicle so far. The Volt can go as far as 100mph at top speed while the low speed torque of 273 lb-ft could take you from 0-60mph in just nine seconds. Otherwise, you can run the quarter mile with the Volt in just seventeen seconds or less.

Charging also comes easy for those who own the new Chevrolet Volt since it’s fairly easy to use. The battery can be recharged at home using a 120V electrical outlet. The 120V outlet charging may last up to 10-12 hours. There is also a 240V charging station designed for the Volt’s battery, which only takes as little as 4hours.

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