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USA: GM announces fix for electric Volt battery

CHICAGO — Top US automaker General Motors on Thursday announced plans to reinforce the battery in its electric Chevy Volt in order to prevent fires after a severe crash.

The fix comes in response to a government safety probe launched after a damaged lithium battery in a Volt caught fire three weeks after a crash test.

Two other batteries caught fire in subsequent tests in which regulators intentionally damaged the battery compartment and broke its coolant line.

While there have been no reports of fires outside of government testing facilities, the probe called into question the safety of electric vehicles at a time when consumers are just beginning to consider them as an alternative.

“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,” Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of global product development, said in a statement.

GM dealers will reinforce an existing portion of the Volt’s safety structure to better protect the battery pack, add a sensor in the reservoir to monitor coolant levels, and add a tamper-resistant bracket to prevent coolant overfill.

“These enhancements and modifications will address the concerns raised by the severe crash tests,” Barra said.
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