U.S. auto-safety regulators are examining the safety of lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars after a Volt electric vehicle caught fire three weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-tested the vehicle.
The fire was serious enough to burn other vehicles parked nearby, according to sources close to the talks who have requested to stay anonymous because the investigation is not yet public, Daylitech reports.
General Motors believes the fire occurred because NHTSA did not drain the Volt’s battery following the crash, a safety step the automaker has recommended for first-responders.
“First and foremost, I want to make this very clear: The Volt is a safe car,” Jim Federico, GM chief engineer for electric vehicles, said in a statement.
“We are working cooperatively with NHTSA as it completes its investigation,” he added.
“However, NHTSA has stated that based on available data, there’s no greater risk of fire with a Volt than a traditional gas-powered car.”
The safety agency said it planned to work with the Energy Department to conduct additional testing in the next few weeks.
Experts say that if a lithium battery is pierced by steel, a chemical reaction occurs that raises the temperature and can result in a fire. The smaller the piercing, the longer it can take for the fire to happen.
NHTSA is also investigating a North Carolina fire that started while a Chevy Volt was plugged into a home charging unit.