Chevy Volt Battery Fires Prompt Federal Investigation

The Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle touted as “the most fuel-efficient compact car in the United States,” is the subject of a federal investigation into whether it is safe or not.

According to a report by CBS, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun a “safety defect investigation,” on the vehicle after crash testing earlier in the year found that damage to the Volt’s lithium-ion battery resulted in a fire.

“The agency is concerned that damage to the Volt’s batteries as part of three tests that are explicitly designed to replicate real-world crash scenarios have resulted in fire,” the administration said in a news release. “NHTSA is therefore opening a safety defect investigation of Chevy Volts, which could experience a battery-related fire following a crash.”

In response, manufacturer GM released a statement which urged Volt owners not to worry because the fires – which spokesman Greg Martin say have not been duplicated since the incidents in May – occurred days after a crash and not on impact. The company additionally pointed out that, unlike the Volt, gas-powered vehicles are at risk of catching fire immediately after being damaged.

GM also said it would start a vehicle loan program to Volt owners – over 5,000 Chevy Volts have been sold as of today – concerned about safety. The company would loan a GM vehicle to those owners at no cost until the issue is resolved.

As of this writing, no fires have been reported in Volts involved in roadway crashes, NHTSA said.

via CBS