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USA: GM moves to address electric vehicle battery safety concerns

Summary: Automaker will make modifications to protect the Volt’s battery housing. It hasn’t announced an outright recall but Volt owners will have the opportunity to enhance their cars, if desired.

After weeks of consideration — and a year-end battery recall situation for luxury electric vehicle maker Fisker Karma — General Motors is moving to make structural “enhancements” to the Chevrolet Volt that should address safety concerns.

GM has been under scrutiny since late November, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that a coolant leak potentially had caused a vehicle fire three weeks later. At the time, NHTSA said it needed to further investigate the cause, although it was careful to state that it was not aware of any similar incidents in the real world. GM staunchly declared that it stood by the safety of its technology.

Its move today isn’t exactly a recall. It is voluntary “Customer Satisfaction Program,” centering on enhancements that the company plans to make to the Chevy Volt vehicle structure. Those modifications (illustrated in the graphic) include strengthening the structure to better protect the battery pack in a collision, adding a sensor in the battery coolant reservoir in order to monitor coolant levels, and adding a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the reservoir to help prevent overfill.


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