In the aftermath of NHTSA’s experience with the Chevrolet Volt, which caught fire after completing crash-tests, General Motors wants to reassure customers that its environmentally-friendly car is safe.
Last week, the government opened a formal investigation into the car following crash tests that led to two battery fires, each occurring at least a week later. In response, GM North America president Mark Reuss wrote letters to each of the more than 5,000 Volt owners on Monday, offering a free, indefinite loaner vehicle to those who are nervous and stressing the Volt is a safe car.
“The Volt is a five-star safety car. 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 said.
So far, two Volt battery packs have caught fire, one this spring, three weeks after a crash test. This month, the government simulated that test in a lab, using three Volt batteries, attempting to duplicate the blaze. One battery caught fire a week later. So far, there have not been any reports of fires in real-world crashes.
Following the first incident, GM decided to send engineers to drain the battery of each Volt that crashes on actual roads, which the automaker says will prevent fires. None of the NHTSA’s crash-tested cars had their batteries drained. GM sold about 5,000 Volts through October, at a pace that is on track to achieve the production target.