The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) informed GM late last week that it will begin a preliminary evaluation of Chevrolet Volt battery assemblies. The move to take this formal, procedural step is not unexpected as GM has worked closely and cooperatively with NHTSA over the last six months on a part of a broader program designed to induce battery failure after extreme situations.
The Volt is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash. GM and the agency’s focus and research continues to be on battery performance, handling, storage and disposal after a crash or other significant event, like a fire, to better serve first and secondary responders. There have been no reports of comparable incidents in the field.
With Onstar, GM knows real time about any crash significant enough to potentially compromise battery integrity. Since July, GM has implemented a post crash protocol that includes the depowering of the battery after a severe crash, returning the battery to a safe and low-powered state. That is why the ongoing collaboration between GM and NHTSA is so important and stands to benefit the industry.
As leaders in bringing electric vehicles and advanced technology to market, GM’s aggressive testing with NHTSA to determine the operating limits of this technology under extreme conditions can help set battery performance standards for the industry going forward.