General Motors has developed a number of upgrades for the Chevrolet Volt to reduce the risk of it developing an electrical fire in the days and weeks after a serious crash.
The upgrades to the plug-in hybrid vehicle were developed following an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US in the final months of 2011. The investigation was launched after a Volt crash-tested by the NHTSA in May 2011 developed a coolant leak and caught fire three weeks later.
To improve the safety of the Volt, GM has developed three upgrades that will be applied to all existing and future vehicles:
- An existing portion of the Volt’s vehicle safety structure will be strengthened to further protect the battery pack in severe side collisions
- A sensor will be added to the battery coolant system reservoir to monitor coolant levels; and,
- A tamper-resistant bracket will be added to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill
GM says it conducted four successful crash tests on Volts with the upgrades between December 9 and 21 and the enhancements performed as intended, with no intrusion to the battery pack and no coolant leakage in any test.
“The Volt has always been safe to drive,” GM senior vice president of global product development Mary Barra said. “Now we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers’ peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash.
“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’re as confident as ever that the cell design is among the safest on the market.”
GM is not officially recalling the circa-8000 Volts already on the road in North America, however. The upgrades will be applied as part of a “customer satisfaction program” in which Volt customers will be individually notified when modifications are available for their vehicle.
The modifications will be incorporated into the Volt’s manufacturing process, which resumes in Detroit this month.
A rebadged and localised version of the range-extending Chevrolet – the Holden Volt – will go on sale in Australia before the end of 2012.