The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an official statement in regards to the post-crash fire risk of the Chevrolet Volt. As a result of a fire that occurred at the NHTSA’s facilities, they will be opening a formal safety defect investigation in order to determine the fire risk of Volts after a major accident.
It’s worth noting that the Volt isn’t entirely the target of the investigation, but rather the potential of a fire in any electric vehicle following a crash. After the initial fire caused from a side-impact test, NHTSA conducted a trio of tests on the Volt’s battery pack, each involving damaging the battery and rotating the vehicle to simulate an accident and rollover. In the second test, the battery pack caught fire a week later, while the third test the pack began to smoke and spark almost immediately.
NHTSA did also announce that they are not aware of any roadway crashes that have resulted in battery-related fires in the Chevy Volt or any electric vehicle for that matter. They also wanted to assure that Chevy Volt owners whose vehicles have been in a serious crash do not have a reason for concern.
In the meantime though, the agency is working with all vehicle manufacturers to ensure there are safety protocols in place for post-crash incidents involving electric vehicles. These protocols include an attempt to discharge a propulsion battery, not storing the vehicle after a major accident in a garage or near other vehicles, and emergency responders to check if a vehicle is electric-powered after an accident.