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Chevy Volt Passes Safety Investigation 200

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2012 @12:32AM (#38778615)

    Well to be honest, I don't think you will see too many crash wreckages sitting on the side of the road for weeks at a time under real world crashes.

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:20AM (#38778767)

    I don't know where you get the idea of short distances at low speeds from, but you're wrong.

    The reviews when it first came out said that it used the gasoline engine when driving at highway speeds because the electric motors weren't powerful enough to handle high-speed driving by themselves.

    Here's one of the first results Google found:

    http://gm-volt.com/2010/10/11/motor-trend-explains-the-volts-powertrain/ [gm-volt.com]

    Which implies that it's more complex than those reviews said, so the gasoline engine will come on to help run the car in various situations, depending on what mode it's in. Like going up a steep hill at more than 40mph(!).

  • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:26AM (#38778799)

    "no real benefit other than being able to run for short distances at low speeds on the battery"

    Low speeds, huh? I wish I'd known that when I was blasting down the highway earlier this evening in my Volt, purely electric. Top speed: 101 MPH*

    Please mod parent down, just more of the usual misinformed opinio-crap. And if you have mod points, please look for other garbage posts like this and mod them down too. Wish I had some mod points today.

    In the meantime, chew on this: http://wardsauto.com/commentary/why-innovation-dying-america [wardsauto.com]

    * I didn't go that fast, I stayed down at a safe speed. 101 MPH is the published top speed of the Volt, regardless of which mode it's in.

  • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:28AM (#38778809) Homepage Journal

    Several years ago I ran out of petrol going down a hill. I was able to coast into the petrol station further down the hill and put a load more petrol into my car. When I tried to start the car it would not start. I thought that it needed to pump the petrol from the tank to the engine and kept trying. What I did not know was that I had not run out of petrol, the petrol pipe had broken and the petrol was not getting to the carburetor, it was getting sprayed all over the engine and the floor. By the time the puddle of petrol finally managed to catch a spark from the starter motor the puddle had already spread under the car at the next pump. Most of the petrol station was destroyed. It was amazing to see so many people run so fast...

    I do not accept that this theoretical risk of fire comes close to the real risk of fire in a normal engine...

  • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @01:44AM (#38778847)

    ... the gasoline engine will come on to help run the car in various situations, depending on what mode it's in. Like going up a steep hill at more than 40mph(!).

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. 10-Oct-10 will live in infamy in the annals of the Volt because it's the day that people like the parent of this post misread GM's very interesting disclosure about the Volt powertrain to mean "the engine comes on at high speeds".


    "Full performance" means it can go ANY SPEED and MAX ACCELERATION under only electric propulsion. Over and over, lazy bloggers (and blog comment posters) have misread articles about the transmission to conclude that the engine comes on at high speeds or high acceleration. IT'S NOT A PRIUS. I have countless jackrabbit starts and high speed runs in my Volt to demonstrate it is most definitely not a Prius. I'm with Dan Akerson on this -- I wouldn't be caught dead in a Prius :)

    Read the actual article more closely. It's a complicated car, with amazing results.

  • 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 muon-catalyzed ( 2483394 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @02:39AM (#38779059)
    The Volt is by far the best car that came out of America in recent times. They all know Chevrolet scored some seriously good car here and lots of people are driven mad about it. There is handful of competition and pressure from non-GM dealerships like Toyotas, Nissans etc. The car battery "catches fire" is just another bash line of theirs. The main point here is that the car needs no gasoline at all for trips up to 40 miles and the Voltec EV powertrain is just so sweet, it has torque like a sports car, all electric and whisper quiet. So it is not a hybrid, but full EV with assisted gasoline generator when the battery runs out. This is in my book the best solution to the EV range anxiety problem and lots of other EV related issues, avoidable gasoline engine, but gasoline range when needed -- the best of both worlds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2012 @05:28AM (#38779571)

    I don't see all the running costs there, only fueling.

    and 27k car will get you in mustang/taurus territory, going for a similar compact car will net you a 17k focus sedan that will run around your volt and will use 28k fuel just before getting to the price of a volt, and after that there is still more before breaking even

    please, do the math, but right. the volta is priced like a bmw and kitted like a fiat. compare appropriately.

  • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Sunday January 22, 2012 @08:23AM (#38780051) Journal

    GM plays fast and loose with their numbers. They had set a goal of 10,000 vehicles sold in 2011, and when they fell short (selling only 7,600) they changed the claim to 10,000 produced rather than sold. They have been building more Volts than they are selling since last August or so and they have already been reducing production. Chances are, if your local dealer sells Volts, he's got one or two sitting on the lot waiting for a buyer. Sending a car to a dealer's lot counts as a sale, even if that car never ends up in someone's driveway.

    The Volt as a vehicle is not that bad - a bit pricey for what you get but that's the early adopter premium you see with anything else. GM's marketing and PR departments have handled things so poorly it's impressive they sold as many as they did. They are completely unable to be honest about what the vehicle is and what it's capable of.

    Basically what I'm saying is GM's executive branch is a bunch of compulsive liars, and I wouldn't be completely shocked if they are deliberately fumbling the Volt so they can drop the technology in a slightly less inflammatory way than they dropped the EV1. I remain cautiously optimistic that isn't the case, though.

    Even if it isn't a concerted effort, their heart clearly isn't behind it.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll