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Chevy Volt Electric Car Buyers Unfazed By Fire Reports


2012 Chevrolet Volt: it's more car than incendiary device.

2012 Chevrolet Volt: it's more car than incendiary device.

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Even as Chevrolet celebrated its 100th anniversary recently, different concerns were mounting from some media outlets and green car curmudgeons.  They weren't concerned about the candles on the cake, but flames from the Volt.

Give any kind of alarmists Internet access, and sensationalism tends to ensue.  First was the report of a Volt's mere presence in a Barkhamsted, Connecticut owner's garage fire, though the fire marshal later ruled the car wasn't the cause.

Same goes for a similar recent incident in Mooresville, North Carolina: a Volt happened to be in a garage that caught fire.  Here, too, the local fire marshal clarified that the fire had started outside the car; again, not the Volt's fault.

In the latter case, Duke Energy was nevertheless concerned enough to contact electric car-owning customers about their home charging stations, saying "they may not want to use them out of an abundance of caution."  All the while, Duke admitted it wasn't inclined to blame either the charging station or the car for the fire.

Meanwhile, it happened to the government too. Three weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administered a side-impact crash test on a Volt, it ignited while in outdoor storage.  

2011 Chevrolet Volt destroyed in Barkhamsted, CT, garage fire; image from WTNH News 8 report

2011 Chevrolet Volt destroyed in Barkhamsted, CT, garage fire; image from WTNH News 8 report

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This time, the battery pack head leaked coolant and ignited after being damaged in testing.  Chevrolet and NHTSA independently tried replicating the results to produce another fire.  Neither could make it happen.  NHTSA awarded Volt a five-star safety rating, in fact.

Yet with all this inferred inferno danger, are owners and would-be owners burned on the idea of ownership?  Not at all, reports Automotive News.  It cites a number of GM dealers whose customers are either not raising the alleged issue or at least aren't deterred from owning a Volt.

Given GM's roughly 300,000 hours of testing the car and its charging station, we tend to believe any wrinkles were ironed out long before it reached consumers.

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Comments (5)
  1. Of course, it's just a fluke of nature that everywhere the Volt shows up there is usually a fire close by. It can be compared to a deer in rut, everywhere she goes there is usually a buck close by...it's not her fault.
     
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    Bad stuff?

     
  2. @James: There are roughly 250,000 gasoline fires per year. That makes 249,997 to go for the Volt. :)
     
    Post Reply
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    Bad stuff?

     
  3. So what are you saying, John? GM is trying their best to catch electrical fires up with gas fires...give them a couple of weeks more and they just might achieve their goal.

    John, I know you can't help from noticing that the Leaf hasn't had a single fire. So is it the electrical part of the Volt that is causing the fires or is it the gas part...or is it the parts that are made in China?
     
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    Bad stuff?

     
  4. A few weeks ago, while on the West Coast, I read in a local newspaper that a Leaf was involved in an accident. Oh my gosh, folks. If you buy a Leaf, remember, it could be in an accident.

    Geez, people will jump on any report just to be able to cry "The sky is falling" etc.
     
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    Bad stuff?

  5. Here are some recalls.  One involves 250 deaths due to fires!  Let's get real people.

    Ford recall - 4.5 million cars:
    http://www.switchfires.com/

    October 2011 recall of Audi and VW vehicles for possible fire hazard.
    http://miautotimes.com/2011/10/11/car-recalls-affect-volkswagen-audi-models-fuel-leaks-fires/

    Honda recall of some models for some reports of fires in the REAL WORLD
    http://miautotimes.com/2011/09/07/car-recalls-months-2011-surpasses-2-4-million-2010-recalls-numbers/

    Honda recalls more than 600,000 vehicles for fire hazard.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,584277,00.html

    More than 250 deaths attributed to Jeep fires in some older vehicles.  No recall as of yet.
    http://miautotimes.com/2011/06/24/michigan-jeep-dealers-recall-fire-fatalities-grand-cherokee-warrant/

    BMW is recalling some models due to fire hazards.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/10/31/bmw-recalls-vehicles-for-potential-fire-hazard/

    Where's the hoopla?  I think, maybe this is a little politically motivated.
     
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    Bad stuff?

 

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