GM Working On Volt Battery Fix, Next Batteries To Be “Safer”

With Congress and the NHTSA now investigating the Chevy Volt’s battery fire problems, General Motors is moving fast to fix the problem. Right now the plan calls for a $1,000 fix to each car, and a switch to safer batteries in future EV’s. But has the damage already been done?

GM CEO David Akerson has already said that engineers are working on a potential fix, which would including laminating the electric circuitry and reinforcing the battery case against crashes. That accident appears to stem from coolant leaking into the battery circuitry post-crash, which would explain why the battery fires don’t occur right after the crash. GM had develop internal procedures for draining the battery after the crash, but did not share them with the NHTSA or anybody else.

But better this happen now, when electric vehicles are in their genesis, then a decade one when millions of vehicles may be affected. Every car has a battery, and gasoline is a much more volatile fuel than electricity.

None the less, some people are sure to latch on to this incident as proof of electric vehicles’ failings. These people were already EV haters to begin with, and while this incident may sway a few minds away from buying a Volt, this is not likely to be the last issue that crops up as more people transition to electric vehicles. The media (including me) needs something to write about it, which is why I sat back last week to see how the news unfolded.

I almost feel let down by the lack of a bombshell.

GM has already announced that for its next foray into electric vehicles, the Spark EV, it will move towards more-stable phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries from A123 systems. These batteries store less energy, but are said to be safer and longer-lasting. I think GM, and any company for that matter, is warranted a few stumbling blocks. In this case it feels like a lot of noise over nothing. Nobody got hurt, the fires were weeks after the accidents, and while it needs to be fixed, GM should hardly be raked over the coals for it.

What say you dear readers? Did GM drop the ball, or is this typical media hysteria?

Source: GM | Businessweek | Reuters

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.