GM proposes fix for Volt battery fire issues

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GM Volt

GM's troubled Volt EV. Image: eschipul/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Last month, U.S. safety regulators announced possible risks with the plug-in battery packs powering GM’s Volt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has pointed to problems that it says could possibly cause a fire days after a crash. GM has been quick to investigate possible fixes. Sources say the automaker has a possible package of fixes that could solve the problem.

 Cost $1,000 per car

Unnamed sources told Reuters that the suggested repairs would involve laminating the circuitry of the 400-pound Lithium-Ion battery pack, bolstering the cooling system against leaks, and strengthening the battery housing. The fix would cost about $1,000 per vehicle, about $9 million total. It could prevent a much more costly recall at a later time.

Safety rating remains unchanged

The Insurance Institute for Highway safety said Monday that it has no plans to strip GM of its five-star safety rating over the incident. Likewise, the NHTSA said GM would retain its impeccable safety rating in spite of the investigation.

These fixes still remain unconfirmed by GM. Spokesman Rob Peterson said:

“To the best of my knowledge, we’re not discussing exact solutions at this point.”

The Volt is a hybrid vehicle that also contains a 1.4 liter gas-powered engine as a backup after its 40-mile battery range is depleted.

Fires after crash tests

The NHTSA became alerted to the possible issue with the battery pack when a Volt burst into flames three weeks after a crash test in May. In November, another Volt battery pack began to spark and smoke. And a third Volt caught fire in November about a week after it was crash-tested.

GM has offered loaner cars to Volt owners while the safety investigation is been pending. Days later, the company made the unprecedented move of offering to buy back Volts from customers who were worried about the safety issues.

Meanwhile, the NHTSA is taking flack over its six-month delay in announcing the issue and the investigation. Congressman Jim Jordan of the regulatory subcommittee of the House Oversight panel said in a statement:

“This is a serious situation that our committee will look further into.”


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