GM has issued a “voluntary recall” that was not mandated by the NHTSA (hrmm…) for all 8,000 Volts sold to customers, and another 4,000 or so on dealership lots. The 2-3 hour fix will add strength to the steel cage surrounding the T-shaped lithium-ion battery and its liquid cooling system. From the looks of the above graphic, the strengthening measures appear to be in the form of an I-shaped bracket.
The battery pack was punctured as a result of the NHTSA’s side-pole impact test, replicating an accident where a car slams into say, a light pole. This test punctured the Volt’s battery pack, allowing liquid from the cooling system to seep into the battery pack, and several weeks after the test the battery pack caught fire. These structural enhancements were tested four times, to GM’s satisfaction. All new Chevy Volts and Opel Amperas will have these structural enhancements.
Additionally, GM will add a tamper-proof cap to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to prevent overflow, and they will add a cooling fluid monitoring system.
Is it just me, or does this all seem a little overboard for a fire that happened three weeks after the fact? I’m not saying GM is blameless, as they failed to inform the NHTSA about the proper way to discharge a battery after an accident. Then again, GM has staked a lot of its reputation on the Volt, and while I wouldn’t so so far as to say it will make or break the company, GM needs to tread carefully with this car.
So, I guess I’m torn. Part of me says this is overkill. But part of me also says that new GM needs to establish a reputation of doing the “right” thing, no matter the cost. So I’m just going to say, kudos, GM, you got the fix out fast. I hope this is an important lesson learned for all automakers who want to delve into the realm of EV’s.