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.