US Probing Chevy Volt Battery Fires

In testing, more batteries cause concern
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2011 10:44 AM CST
US Probing Chevy Volt Battery Fires
In this Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, the Chevy Volt appears on display at the Washington Auto Show, in Washington.   (J. Scott Applewhite)

New fires involving the lithium-ion batteries in General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt have prompted an investigation to assess the risk of fire in the electric car after a serious crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says. One Volt battery pack that was being closely monitored following a government crash test caught fire Thursday; another recently crash-tested battery emitted smoke and sparks, according to a statement from the safety administration.

GM, which was informed of the investigation yesterday, said in a statement that the Volt "is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash." The latest fires are in addition to a battery fire in a crash-tested Volt six months ago. Last week's tests of three battery packs were designed to replicate the May test. The first battery tested last week didn't catch fire. But a battery test on Nov. 17 initially experienced a temporary temperature increase, and on Thursday caught fire. Another battery tested on Nov. 18 began to smoke and emit sparks shortly after the rotation. (More General Motors stories.)

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