Chevy Volts' Battery Finally Fixed
General Motors Co. (GM), the manufacturer of the Chevrolet Volt says it will make modifications to the vehicle after a series of fires occurred following test crashes of the plug-in vehicle hybrid.
GM says the fires resulted from a coolant leak that occurred when the battery pack in the vehicle was punctured during the tests of severe side crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The battery fires happened hours to weeks after the tests as the coolant leaked and eventually created a short circuit.
GM will add structural reinforcement that better protects the battery pack from puncture or a coolant leak in a severe side crash, according to Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president of global product development. GM will also add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels and add a temper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir. This addition will help prevent potential coolant overfill. Also, in the future technicians will drain batteries of their charge following severe crashes. These repairs will just add about three pounds to the weight of the vehicle.
GM says that it has conducted four successful crash tests in December 2011 of Chevy Volts with the changes and that there was no intrusions into the battery pack and no coolant leakages in any of the tests. GM plans to recall about 8,000 Volts already in customer hands and make the changes in February. Modifications to the vehicle assembly line is underway so that all newly produced vehicles have the reinforcements.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it plans to monitor the vehicles for another week, but GM's remedy “should address the issue of battery intrusion.” A final report will be public in the coming weeks.