Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have said they are happy with the proposed safety enhancements for the 2011 and 2012 Chevrolet Volt designed to minimize the risk of battery pack fire following a major impact. 

In an interview yesterday at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, NHTSA’s David Strickland  praised the way that General Motors swiftly and effectively dealt with, and investigated why several of its cars had caught fire weeks after side-impact crash tests at an NHTSA facility. 

“They really did put customers first,” he said. 

Immediately following the announcement that a 2012 Chevrolet Volt had burst into flames some two weeks after an NHSTA crash test in June, GM voluntarily began working alongside the NHSTA to investigate the cause. 

2011 Chevrolet Volt during IIHS crash testing

2011 Chevrolet Volt during IIHS crash testing

Then, when the NHSTA and GM managed to replicate both the crash and the subsequent fires around Thanksgiving, GM immediately offered loan cars to customers worried about the safety of their plug-in hybrid. 

GM’s proposed fix includes adding extra steel reinforcements at each side of the car and throughout its transmission tunnel to spread impact energy away from the lithium-ion battery pack.  

While GM’s Hamtramck facility where the Volt is built has already began fitting strengthened components to new cars, customers who already own a 2011 or 2012 Chevrolet  Volt will be contacted in due course by their dealer to arrange the fitting of additional reinforcement under an official factory recall notice. 

Noting that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is also “happy” with GM’s proposed redesign of the Volt’s battery pack case, Strickland said that the NHSTA would be ceasing its own official volt fire investigation presently. 


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