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Chevy Volt Passes Safety Investigation 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the volt-cleared-of-charge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A few months ago, reports of battery fires from crash-tested Chevy Volts caused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open an investigation into the type of batteries used in the Volt and other EVs. That investigation has now concluded, and the NHTSA says the cars are safe. 'The agency and General Motors Co. know of no fires in real-world crashes. GM and federal safety officials say they believe the fires were caused by coolant leaking from damaged plastic casing around the batteries after side-impact collisions. The coolant caused an electrical short, which sparked battery fires seven days to three weeks after the crashes. GM announced earlier this month that it will add steel plates to about 12,000 existing Volts to protect the batteries in the event of a crash.'"
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Chevy Volt Passes Safety Investigation

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  • So your solution to protecting the batteries are adding heavy Steel plates to the car. Which in turn adds more weight and gives less mileage. We can't find a metal that is lighter and stronger?
    • by caseih (160668) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @12:39AM (#38778633)

      Yeah, like magnesium!

    • by ChrisCampbell47 (181542) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:34AM (#38778817)

      So your solution to protecting the batteries are adding heavy Steel plates to the car. Which in turn adds more weight and gives less mileage. We can't find a metal that is lighter and stronger?

      They've said the additional bracket (it's a stretch to call it "steel plates" has it's not exactly armor) weighs about 3-4 pounds and will have no noticeable effect on efficiency.

      Photo of the bracket is here:
      http://gm-volt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/ChevroletVoltPartsInstallation115-724x1024.jpg [gm-volt.com]

      From this excellent overview of the actual "fixes" that GM will be doing to customers that CHOOSE to bring their Volt in for it:
      http://gm-volt.com/2012/01/06/gm-chooses-to-%E2%80%98go-extra-mile%E2%80%99-with-volt-battery-protection/ [gm-volt.com]

      Also, you might want to google "Volt high strength steel". The car has some of the highest structural rigidity in the industry. Yet another way in which the Volt is demonstrating a big leap forward in automotive technology.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "The car has some of the highest structural rigidity in the industry."

        So, less crumple zones to absorb impact, thus leaving me to absorb more of it.

        No thanks.

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Yeah, I hear that Ford made the passenger cabin of the Ranger into a crumple zone - it dissipates energy really effectively!

          The only downsides are slight crush injuries to your legs, arms, torso, feet, hands and head.

          The EuroNCAP review of that Ranger is gone now, but it was hilariously bad and one of the very few "not even 1 star worthy" vehicles.

          The extended cab folded like paper at the point between the front and rear seats.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          That's really not how it works. I assume you know nothing about auto body (looks like a safe assumption) so here goes.

          The most rigid points in any typical unibody or indeed any place but the frame of most full-frame vehicles are areas called "torque boxes" located at the base of the first and last pillars. In these areas the floor pan and the pillar tend to overlap and carry extra welds. In most cars these are the only areas designed to be absolutely rigid. Stress is transmitted between the front and rear a

    • by dissy (172727)

      So your solution to protecting the batteries are adding heavy Steel plates to the car. Which in turn adds more weight and gives less mileage.

      Or you could just go exercise a bit and lose 3 pounds of weight to make up for the difference, if your mileage is that important to you...

  • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:25AM (#38778797) Homepage Journal

    I've been doing some research. The Volt was only tested in -10 weather in Canada, not the -20C to -40C we get in Saskatchewan. As battery efficiency drops dramatically in the cold, I have my doubts about it's electric range capabilities here.

    And once you switch over to gas power, the Volt gets atrocious mileage compared to many other similarly sized cars, including Ford's lineup. And the Ford I'm looking at sells for literally half the price of the Volt. $20,000 buys a HELL of a lot of gasoline.

    • by msobkow (48369) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:27AM (#38778805) Homepage Journal

      If the Volt is the best GM can do, the bailout/aid money they were provided was a waste of taxpayer dollars. They'll still end up bankrupt if they can't do any better than this.

      • by Jeremi (14640) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @02:11AM (#38778951) Homepage

        They'll still end up bankrupt if they can't do any better than this.

        Don't worry, they're doing okay [reuters.com].

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          They'll still end up bankrupt if they can't do any better than this.

          Don't worry, they're doing okay.

          Unfortunately, your "citation" does not prove this. It tells us they sold a lot of cars, but it doesn't tell us if it made a profit.

    • by ChrisCampbell47 (181542) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:56AM (#38778899)

      I've been doing some research.

      Might want to try a little harder.

      The Volt was only tested in -10 weather in Canada, not the -20C to -40C we get in Saskatchewan. As battery efficiency drops dramatically in the cold, I have my doubts about it's electric range capabilities here.

      The Volt functions down to -13 F / -25 C cold. That's the COLD SOAK temperature of the battery. If the battery pack is colder than that, then the gas engine will fire up to generate electricity to warm up the battery above that temperature threshold. Note that I didn't say ambient temperature; we're talking about the temperature deep inside the car, inside a 400 pound battery pack. It takes a long time at a given ambient temperature to get the battery pack itself down to that temperature. Does your weather stay at or below -13 F / -25 C for 24 hours at a time? If so then I agree the Volt isn't for you, but it's great for the rest of us.

      And once you switch over to gas power, the Volt gets atrocious mileage compared to many other similarly sized cars

      37 MPG is pretty damn good by nearly any standard. "Atrocious"? Don't be such a drama queen.

      the Ford I'm looking at sells for literally half the price of the Volt. $20,000 buys a HELL of a lot of gasoline.

      Make sure you're doing a fair comparison. The Ford you are comparing to (you don't say which) likely will have it's doors blown in by the Volt's performance. Further, the Volt is likely more luxuriously appointed than whatever econo penalty box you are comparing with.

      For lots and lots of current Volt owners, their previous car was a luxury sports sedan. Mine was an Audi.

      • by dbc (135354)

        The Volt functions down to -13 F / -25 C cold. That's the COLD SOAK temperature of the battery. If the battery pack is colder than that, then the gas engine will fire up to generate electricity to warm up the battery above that temperature threshold. Note that I didn't say ambient temperature; we're talking about the temperature deep inside the car, inside a 400 pound battery pack. It takes a long time at a given ambient temperature to get the battery pack itself down to that temperature. Does your weather stay at or below -13 F / -25 C for 24 hours at a time? If so then I agree the Volt isn't for you, but it's great for the rest of us.

        I saw the weather do that when I lived in Minneapolis, so yes, I'm sure it does that in SK. In Minneapolis, it is common for there to be a week of weather in January where the daytime high never gets above -5F for the whole week. Minneapolis is the deep south compared to SK.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Nos. (179609)

          I live is SE Saskatchewan. This winter is hardly a fair example (its been very warm here with the exception of the past week). However, even in an average winter, we would rarely see as cold as -25C as a high for more than a few days in a row. So what this says to me, is even though I thought the opposite, the Volt may actually be a reasonable car here. Even if its not the most efficient choice during the extreme cold, we're talking maybe less than a week on average in any give year that it drops bel

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        37 MPG is pretty damn good by nearly any standard. "Atrocious"? Don't be such a drama queen.

        No, it's pathetic compared to a Golf GTI at 50 mpg, or a Jetta TDI at 45 mpg, or that newish Jag with the V8 TDI and twin turbos at 40-50 mpg, or a Bluetec Lupo at 70 mpg. Don't be such a pathetic cheerleader.

        For lots and lots of current Volt owners, their previous car was a luxury sports sedan.

        Only for idiot posers. Oh wait, that's all volt owners. The volt is the new prius. Does nothing to help the environment, in fact it's worse for the planet than the competition. Costs more. More to go wrong. First generation and kinks not worked out. Mileage ultimately not that good. It's a total failur

        • by willy_me (212994)

          No, it's pathetic compared to a Golf GTI at 50 mpg, or a Jetta TDI at 45 mpg, or that newish Jag with the V8 TDI and twin turbos at 40-50 mpg, or a Bluetec Lupo at 70 mpg. Don't be such a pathetic cheerleader.

          You can't make direct comparisons between gasoline and diesel engines when it comes to environmental impact. With the same fuel efficiencies, a diesel engine is going to put ~20% more CO2 into the atmosphere then a gasoline engine. Diesel fuel contains more carbon per gallon then gasoline.

          But there are also other things to consider. For example, the CO2 byproducts resulting from the refining process. There are the transportation costs to consider. It can get very complex but the 20% estimate is a re

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The difference is that you can buy relatively carbon-neutral biodiesel right now, but BP and Dupont are preventing us from buying relatively carbon-neutral butanol by sitting on it via their shell company, Butamax, and suing anyone who tries to make Butanol and sell it to the public.

    • The Volt doesn't get atrocious gas mileage. And Ford doesn't have a single vehicle in the size range of the Volt which matches it on overall mpg (counting only gas mode), let alone beats it so badly as to call the Volt mpg "atrocious"

      As far as I know at this time, in the North American market Ford only has one vehicle in any size range that gets better mpg than the Volt (again, only counting gas mode) and that is the Fusion Hybrid. It tops the Volt by 5% (2mpg). It costs $30,000, about 3/4 what the Volt doe

  • Steel plates are great at preventing electrical shorts.

  • Seems it's cool to hate just about everything on slashdot, so to solve the image problem of the Volt among slashdot geeks they should just tell them that the navigation system runs Linux. Then it would be the greatest product ever created, and would "crush all those closed cars" that "you do not own!"

  • I had to re-read that bit about adding 12,000 volts to steel plates a couple of times before it made sense (still working on my first pot of coffee of the day).

    But it made me realize that Chevie has picked a poor name for their electric car. We are doomed to see electrifying headlines about damage when a bus gets hit by 12 volts, etc.

    Stupid stupid name.

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