Structural enhancements to fit to Chevy Volt electric car to avoid post-crash battery-pack fires.Enlarge Photo
Yesterday, General Motors announced a Customer Satisfaction Program for all assembled Chevy Volt sedans, aimed at strengthening the battery compartment to prevent coolant leaks in the event of a side impact.
Such a coolant leak, created during NHTSA side-impact testing, resulted in the much overdramatized issue of fire risk associated with the Chevy Volt extended range electric vehicle.
While a fire did occur in a crashed Chevy Volt, the incident (related to a short circuit caused by dried coolant) happened some two weeks post-crash.
As history has shown, high voltage and short circuits pose a fire risk under any circumstance, yet the media played up the potential danger associated with Chevrolet’s extended range electric vehicle.
To pacify an unnecessarily alarmed public, Chevrolet will modify the battery compartment on the Volt with an additional steel crossmember, strengthening the battery tunnel itself.
To ensure that crash forces are distributed over a wider area, the reinforcement modifications also include an additional steel plate running parallel to the sides of the battery tunnel, which will further reduce the chance of intrusion in a side impact crash.
The updates will also include a battery coolant level sensor and a tamper-resistant bracket on the battery coolant cap to prevent accidental overfilling.
All new Volt models will be fitted with these modifications during assembly, and the campaign to retrofit existing models will begin in February.