At $1,000 per Vehicle, Fix to Chevy Volt Battery Pack Is Cheap
According to Reuters, engineers at GM believe that relatively simple modifications will greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of the Chevy Volt producing a fire after a severe crash. Engineers at the company are expected to update senior management by the end of this week on what could be a fix to the more than 6,000 Volts now on US roads.
The proposed modifications include laminating some of the circuitry within the Volt's 16-kWh battery, reinforcing the case that protects the 400-pound lithium-ion unit and adding protection to the coolant system to prevent leaks after a severe crash. (The Nissan LEAF does not use a liquid coolant in its battery system and the steel encasement apparently is more integral to the vehicle's core structure.)
According to reports, the repair would be quick and could be completed at GM dealerships, thus sparing General Motors the cost further damage to its reputation, especially if questions linger or if a formal safety recall is made. It's an open question whether or not the public will understand the distinctions between a voluntary fix and a formal recall. But the quicker the incident is resolved, and the industry establishes standards for preventing similar problems in the future—such as proper design for protecting the battery pack and protocols for draining power from a battery after a crash—the sooner such problems can be dismissed by potential buyers of electric cars.
It's believed the cost to fix each Volt will be approximately $1,000 per vehicle, or around $9 million to fix all of the estimated 9,000-plus Volts produced to date. That's a relatively low cost for GM, and the emerging EV industry, to put the incident in the rear view mirror.
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