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USA: GM CEO Defends Chevrolet Volt in Written Testimony, Hearing Before Congress

GM CEO Dan Akerson with the Chevrolet Volt (Source: addition to Akerson, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland testified in favor of the Volt

The Chevrolet Volt’s reputation took a bit of a beating throughout 2011 after a few battery fire incidents. In May 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a side-impact crash test on the Volt, and three weeks later, the EV caught fire while parked in a testing garage.

The fire prompted a NHTSA investigation of the safety of lithium batteries used in plug-in electric vehicles. Lithium batteries can catch fire if the internal cells or the battery case are pierced by steel or another ferrous metal. In November 2011, the NHTSA conducted three additional side-impact crash tests with three more Volts, and two out of three batteries either sparked or caught fire.

GM immediately jumped on the problem, offering customers loaner vehicles and even buying Volts back from scared owners. In January 2012, GM recalled all 8,000 Volts off the road as well as the 4,400 for sale in showrooms in order to place steel on the plate that protects the EV’s battery. The NHTSA tested the new steel piece, and said it took care of the problem.


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