GM tries to reduce the level of anxiety among Volt owners following last week's battery fire revelations.
In light of the recent anxieties over potential fires in the Chevy Volt's battery, GM wants to reassure owners by offering a free replacement of their current Volt if they feel uncomfortable with it in any way. The offer comes after the investigation begun last week by the NHTSA into possible post-crash electrical fires. Mark Reuss, GM North America President and Mary Barra, Sr. VP of Product Development offered their explanation of the events in a press conference and both of them insisted that the car is safe.
None of the fires happened while drive or after an accident, but only during and after crash testing the cars and their batteries packs in a controlled situation. Mary Barra explained that the first Volt that caught fire last June, some three weeks after it was used in a crash test, was due to "significant electrical charge or energy, was left in the battery after the test. When electrical energy is left in a battery after a severe crash it can be similar to leaving gasoline in a leaking fuel tank after severe damage," she explained. "It's important to drain the energy from the battery after a crash that compromises the battery's integrity - or you risk potential fire."
Following those events, GM developed a process to depower batteries following an accident and these new procedures will be distributed to dealerships and mechanics who handle or store vehicles after severe crashes. Barra further said that a post-crash Volt initially shouldn't be at risk, but the potential for an electrical fire from this condition would likely not exist until days after the crash took place. "We will take every precaution to assure our customers and the public of our total commitment to safety of anyone who drives the Volt," said Barra.
Barra also correctly pointed out that battery safety doesn't only conern the Volt alone, as there are many other popular vehicles that utilize lithium-ion batteries, so there will be extensive research within the entire industry to better understand and solve this issue. "Engineers and other automotive companies will address new issues such as a process and protocol for depowering batteries," she said.