NHTSA Investigates Post-Crash Fire Risks of Chevy Volts Sold in Massachusetts, Nationwide

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced they will be doing a full blown investigation of Chevy Volt cars that may be susceptible to a fire hazard following a car accident in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the country.


Bloomberg Businessweek reported the most recent incident involving a Chevy Volt that caught fire at a NHTSA testing center in Wisconsin. Investigators believe the use of lithium-ion batteries in the plug-in electrical vehicles cause them to be at risk of a fire hazard. Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are two current models that contain these batteries, but it is expected that a plug-in version of the Prius and Toyota RAV 4 will also use these batteries.

Boston car accident lawyers know that defective vehicles are a growing concern as car manufacturers continue to advertise new and improved bells and whistles with each new model year. The new and improved part is what is in question here. President Obama’s goal is to put 1 million electric vehicles in operation on U.S roadways by 2015. Vehicles containing lithium batteries could make consumers purchasing these vehicles leery after recent reports of fire-related car accidents.

In May, a side-impact crash test was conducted on the Chevy Volt. Three weeks later the car ignited into flames. Investigators concluded that the damage to the battery during the crash test is what caused the vehicle to burst into flames. Since then, the NHTSA has taken extensive measures to learn more about the batteries, the hazards involved in using them and has worked with the Department of Energy and Department of Defense to conduct strict test on the Volt’s lithium-ion batteries. These tests involved purposely damaging the battery compartment and the vehicle coolant line. After the Volt was exposed to a real-world crash scenario and following a third test, the lithium-ion battery pack again caught fire at the facility raising concern for NHTSA researchers.

No recall has been announced but a safety defect investigation of Chevy Volts has been initiated. The NHTSA continues to support the purchase of electric vehicles in an effort to save consumers money in gas purchases, create jobs and help protect the environment.

Advice from the NHTSA:

-Consumers are encouraged to contact local dealers if you have questions about an electric vehicle.

-Electric vehicles that have been damaged should not be kept in a garage or near other vehicles after being hauled away from the scene by a tow truck operator.

-If you are involved in an accident, wait for emergency responders to arrive or if health conditions permit, exit the vehicle safely.

-Emergency responders should look for electric vehicle power indicators and exercise caution to avoid electrical shock from a battery pack or disconnect of the vehicle’s circuits.

For more information about electric vehicle ratings or defective vehicle recalls, visit safercar.gov.

The car accident attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, LLC are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured victims involved in a defective car accident in Boston or throughout Massachusetts. If you wish to speak to an attorney about your case, call for a free consultation at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
GM Volt Fire Said to Prompt U.S. Probe of Lithium Batteries, by Jeff Green, David Welch and Angela Greiling Keane, Bloomberg Businessweek.

More Blog Entries:
NHTSA to Rate 2012 Vehicles and Their Ability to Protect Occupants, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, November 4, 2011.

Foreign Cars Proven to Better Protect You in a Boston Car Accident, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2011.

More Vehicle Recalls Pose Threats to Driver Safety in Boston, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, April 18, 2011.

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