NHTSA Concludes Chevrolet Volt Investigation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has officially concluded its investigation of the Chevrolet Volt, determining that crashed Volts don’t pose a significant fire risk. In a press release, the agency reports, “Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”
As we previously reported, a Chevrolet Volt caught fire several weeks after being crash tested by NHTSA. Researchers concluded that the Volt’s lithium-ion battery was damaged during crash tests, which led to the fire that occurred at the NHTSA testing facility.
Though NHTSA hadn’t received any real-world reports of damaged Volts catching fire, the agency opened a defects investigation in November following the vehicle fire. As a result, General Motors went overboard to ensure that Volt buyers were confident in the safety of their cars, first offering them loaner cars and then offering to buy back the vehicles from worried owners.
The 2012 Chevrolet Volt retained its top overall crash test score of five stars from NHTSA, despite the investigation. General Motors says that Volt owners should take their cars to their dealer to have their car further protected against the danger of fire by adding structural enhancements. Though NHTSA didn’t require GM to offer this fix, Autoblog reports that the agency “supports the modifications.”
Still, Congress has opened an investigation into the way General Motors and NHTSA are handling the situation. “The hearing will examine the administration's ‘handling of safety issues surrounding the lithium-ion battery system of the Chevrolet Volt and similar safety concerns of other advanced vehicle technologies,’” reports The Detroit News. “Republicans have questioned why NHTSA didn't make news of the first fire public earlier.”
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