NHTSA: GM Volt Poses No Elevated Fire Risk

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Chevrolet Volt - Obtained from Dave Pinter on Flickr.

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) says that the Chevrolet Volt EREV (Extended-Range Electric Vehicle) is no more likely to cause fires than other vehicles.

“Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles,” the administration said in this statement.

According to the NHTSA, there have not been any real-world electric vehicle fires; all the fires were caused by intentional testing. They also noted that there are precautions that should be taken  to prevent fires, just to be safe, such as draining the battery after accidents to ensure that the current from the batteries doesn’t ignite anything.

The Chevy Volt is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, and li-ion battery packs have a good fire-safety track record. They are in laptops, cellphones, pocket PCs, tablet PCs, mp3 players, and more, and they almost never catch fire. Even if they catch fire once, that is why it ends up on the news, because it is rare. The Volt is no exception to this rule.

Some people were alarmed when a Chevy Volt caught fire three weeks after a crash test. The fire was caused by the ignition of crystallized coolant by electric current from the batteries.

One of the arguments used by electric vehicle opponents is that they are a major fire hazard, and the Chevrolet Volt is an electric vehicle that also includes a gasoline-burning generator, but as this overarching highway traffic safety organization confirms, the Volt poses no more hazard than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Although no vehicle can be made without fire risk, what matters is how likely a fire is. Fortunately, science has reduced the fire risk of vehicles, in general, to a miniscule level.

h/t Cnet and NHTSA | Photo Credit: Dave Pinter


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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

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