GM To Offer Volt Owners Loaner Cars As NHTSA Investigates Battery Fires

This whole Chevy Volt battery fire story has taken off running after the NHTSA announced its findings on preliminary tests and an ongoing investigation into all EV battery packs. Mark Reuss, President of GM North America, has written a letter to Volt owners explaining what is going on, and offering anybody uncomfortable with driving their Volt a free loaner car.

Range Anxiety? Try Fire Anxiety

GM realizes just how serious this situation is, and they are taking pro-active steps to alleviate concern. For emphasis, the NHTSA is investigating all lithium-ion battery packs, not just those on the Chevy Volt. It doesn’t help, however, that the Volt has been involved in several high-profile house fires this past year, even though investigations later revealed the Volt had nothing to do with these conflagrations at private residences.

However, at least one fire can be blamed on the Volt. The NHTSA investigation was prompted by a fire at their own facility where a Volt caught fire three weeks after a severe crash test. The NHTSA was able to replicate the incident in two out of three battery tests. GM revealed that though it had developed internal methods for discharging damaged batteries, they hadn’t bothered to tell the NHTSA. This lack of communication could really come back and bite them in the ass.

Either way, the letter from Mark Reuss lays out what happened in this letter, comparing a charged battery to a tank full of gas. He then goes on to offer any Volt owner suffering from fire anxiety a free loaner until  “the issue is resolved.” However, he fails to make mention that is was GM’s own fault that the NHTSA did not know to drain the battery after an accident, and we all know that common sense isn’t all that common these days. Would you leave a broken battery in your car? I know I wouldn’t, but that is basically what the NHTSA did.

I think the new GM is doing a lot of things right, but there is still a major communications gap, especially when it comes to new technology like electric vehicles. Let’s hope this can be a “teachable moment” for GM and other automakers on getting the information out before these situations spiral out of control. Otherwise GM might prove to be its own worst enemy…again.

Source: GM | Chevrolet Voltage

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.