GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery pack

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reikiman
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In case any of y'all own a Chevy Volt, you're going to be receiving a registered letter from GM detailing a not-quite-recall that is going to begin soon to install safety modifications.

The article linked below has the best summary I can manage on the issues and the fix. Namely - last May a Chevy Volt caught fire following a crash test. This was disclosed in November. Ever since the political naysayers who want to kill EV's have been using this as further ammunition to lambast the Obama Administration and to call EV's a joke and worse. The people doing this don't even care that they're lying, they're just out to get political advantage.

Anyway.. to the technical bits.

The vulnerability (see GM's press release material that I reposted here:- http://blog.greentransportation.info/2012/01/gm-announces-enhancements-to-chevrolet.html) makes it clear - the issue arises from battery coolant leaking onto the BMS circuit boards. I'm not entirely clear how it takes 3 weeks for the leaked coolant to form a fire danger. There's been discussion of coolant crystallizing and then eventually forming a conductive circuit. GM keeps repeating that a problem in this is that the NHTSA crash test procedures did not "depower" the battery pack, that is discharging the batteries, and that because the batteries still had a charge in them that they were a short-circuit danger.

Volt_Structure_Enhancement-web.jpg

This is a picture from GM on the fix they developed.

Earlier I'd looked closely at pictures of the battery pack. There is a steel tray, with a hard industrial grade high impact plastic cover. This picture shows a metal sheath put around the top of the pack, and then other members added to the system which GM says will spread out the impact load.

http://www.examiner.com/green-transportation-in-national/gm-announces-safety-enhancing-fix-for-chevy-volt-battery-pack

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marcopolo
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Re: GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery ...

The fire risk involving the GM Volt, is very, very, very dangerous and serious!

Let's look at these serious incidents;

1) A Garage fire, involving a new Volt! Well, alright a garage caught fire housing Volt, true the fire had nothing to do with the Volt, but it's ominous that the Volt was in the Garage. After all the House had never caught fire before..

2) Another Fire, another parked Volt! True the Volt was only parked, and had noting to do with the Volt, but...

3) A large building in San Fransisco, burned to the ground, an 'informed source' stated that several GM Volt were in San Fransisco that night!

4) A federal agency responsible for safely crash testing vehicles, failed to follow procedures and left a Volt which had been totally wrecked in testing without neutralising the battery. Three weeks later, the car caught fire! Imagine how traumatised you would be if you had innocently left your children in your totally wrecked Volt, in a junkyard for thee weeks, and the car had caught fire! It could happen! We must save the children! The Volt is obviously dangerous! (the junkyard guard dog is still receiving counselling).

Bah, Humbug!

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LeftieBiker
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Re: GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery ...

"GM keeps repeating that a problem in this is that the NHTSA crash test procedures did not "depower" the battery pack, that is discharging the batteries, and that because the batteries still had a charge in them that they were a short-circuit danger."

Does the NHTSA drain all gasoline from ICE cars it crash tests? If so, GM has a point, *and* the NHTSA tests are seriously flawed. If not, GM has no point.

MEroller
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Re: GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery ...

LeftieBiker wrote:

Does the NHTSA drain all gasoline from ICE cars it crash tests? If so, GM has a point, *and* the NHTSA tests are seriously flawed. If not, GM has no point.

GM very much DO have a point in that their instructions for Volt say the battery MUST be discharged after such an accident, so if the NHTSA failed to follow the prescribed "cleanup"-procedure for their crashed Volt it is and remains solely the NHTSA's blunder...
German ADAC (AAA-equivalent) have also crashed electric vehicles and follow the rules and have basically said what I wrote above, too.

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antiscab
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Re: GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery ...

LeftieBiker wrote:

Does the NHTSA drain all gasoline from ICE cars it crash tests? If so, GM has a point, *and* the NHTSA tests are seriously flawed. If not, GM has no point.

Sure do,

and the 12V battery has nothing but water in it aswell

The cars don't even accelerate under their own power.......

Matt

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reikiman
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Re: GM announces safety enhancing fix for Chevy Volt battery ...

MEroller wrote:
LeftieBiker wrote:

Does the NHTSA drain all gasoline from ICE cars it crash tests? If so, GM has a point, *and* the NHTSA tests are seriously flawed. If not, GM has no point.

GM very much DO have a point in that their instructions for Volt say the battery MUST be discharged after such an accident, so if the NHTSA failed to follow the prescribed "cleanup"-procedure for their crashed Volt it is and remains solely the NHTSA's blunder...
German ADAC (AAA-equivalent) have also crashed electric vehicles and follow the rules and have basically said what I wrote above, too.

Right - I originally thought GM was blowing crazy lunacy by saying the battery pack must be discharged soon after an accident or crash test. I used to work as a tow truck driver and have worked dozens of car accident scenes -- well, it was 30 years ago -- but we tow truck drivers never drained fuel from crashed cars for safety. I suppose maybe that practices have changed in the last 30 years?

Anyway.. that experience of working dozens of wrecks tell me there's no end to the extent of damage people will cause their cars by putting them into accidents. My tow-truck-driving territory included some rural lands outside our city .. and for example two years running, at the same section of twisty rural road, a White Corvette went off the road in an accident that disintegrated the Corvette. Twice. White. Each time each of the Corvette's shattered into pieces one time the largest two pieces were the engine and a wheel well.

In other words some car accidents are simply messy scenes and eventually a Chevy Volt will be crashed in such a way that the scenario the NHTSA found would happen. No matter how off the charts in how extreme their crash testing procedure, it will happen eventually. Hence there is a real need to make changes ...

But is it any kind of immediate danger? No, you'd have a week or more to get to a safe distance from the car. If you can't manage that you have other problems that probably require medical attention.

But Marco's sarcasm is right on .. the story around this has been horribly spun and slanted and blown out of proportion, though I missed the one about a building in San Francisco. I suppose you're referring to the massive fire last week that was in the local news?

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- David Herron, Green Transportation Examiner, Green Transportation Info, The Long Tail Pipe, Electric Race News, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Charger bike (rebuilt), Electrified Electra Townie, 1971 Karmann Ghia

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