GM Finalizes Set of Modifications for Chevy Volt Battery Intrusion Fire Issue

By · January 05, 2012

Chevy Volt battery

GM finalized a set of relatively simple Chevy Volt modifications designed to protect the vehicle's battery from the rare possibility of a fire occurring after a severe crash.

General Motors finalized a set of enhancements to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevrolet Volt to protect the battery from the rare possibility of an electrical fire occurring days or weeks after a severe crash. These enhancements come in response to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into the Volt's post crash battery-safety issues.

Volt coolant reservoir

GM is adding a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to prevent coolant overfill.

General Motors engineers fit structural modifications

General Motors engineers fit structural modifications to further protect the battery pack of the Chevrolet Volt. The structural enhancements more evenly distribute crash energy following a severe side impact.

The General will conduct what's described as a "Customer Satisfaction Program" to revise all Chevy Volts by modifying the plug-in hybrids as follows:

  • Strengthen an existing portion of the Volt’s vehicle safety structure to further protect the battery pack in a severe side collision.
  • Add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels.
  • Add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill.

GM claims that this set of enhancements adequately protected four Chevy Volt during crash tests conducted between Dec. 9 and 21, 2011. As General Motors states, "The enhancement performed as intended. There was no intrusion into the battery pack and no coolant leakage in any of the tests."

In a prepared statement, Mary Barra, GM senior vice-president of global product development, said: "These enhancements and modifications will address the concerns raised by the severe crash tests. There are no changes to the Volt battery pack or cell chemistry as a result of these actions. We have tested the Volt’s battery system for more than 285,000 hours, or 25 years, of operation. We’re as confident as ever that the cell design is among the safest on the market."

Chevy Volt owners will be notified when the modifications are available and all Volts rolling off the assembly line will incorporate this set of enhancements as production resumes later this month.

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