The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report based on their careful evaluation of an incident involving a Chevy Volt that was used in a crash test. Three weeks after the crash test, a fire occurred in the vehicle due, says the NHTSA, to damage to the car's lithium-ion batteries. Despite this, the NHTSA says that the risk of fire after a crash is no greater in an electric vehicle than in a traditional gas-powered vehicle, but owners, mechanics and first responders to crashes involving electric vehicles must learn that because electric vehicles are engineered so differently than traditional vehicles, they must be handled differently.
General Motors responded to the report by reminding the public that the NHTSA crash test incident remains the only case of a Volt catching fire due to battery damage and that the vehicle has earned a five star safety rating. GM is nevertheless responding with an abundance of caution. In a press release issued on November 28th, GM stated that any Chevy Volt owner concerned about safety could contact their Volt advisor to receive a GM loaner vehicle, free of charge, until the issue is resolved. Mark Reuss, President of GM North America, said in the release "Even though no customer has experienced in the real world what was identified in this latest testing of post-crash situations, we're taking critical steps to ensure customer satisfaction and safety."
Reuss went on to say, "Our customers' peace of mind is too important to us for there to be any concern or any worry. This technology should inspire confidence and pride, not raise any concern or doubt."
Both GM and the NHTSA reiterated that there is no added risk to electric vehicles as compared to gas-powered cars. GM continues to work with the NHTSA, the entire Volt supply chain, and customers to examine the issue and take whatever steps they can to mitigate any risk from damaged electric vehicle batteries. Despite the cost, GM said, it's the right thing to do.