General Motors announced Monday initiatives for customer satisfaction and battery safety research to ensure ongoing confidence in the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.
GM said any Volt owner who had safety concerns would be offered a different GM car as a loaner vehicle.
“A vehicle loan program of this nature is well beyond the norm for a preliminary investigation, and it underlines our commitment to the vehicle and its owners,” said Mark Reuss, president, GM North America. “These steps are the right ones to take regardless of any immediate impact on our operations.”
“The Volt is a five-star safety car. Even though no customer has experienced in the real world what was identified in this latest testing of post-crash situations, we’re taking critical steps to ensure customer satisfaction and safety,” he said.
The initiatives follow six months of research and testing in the United States with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designed to induce electric vehicle battery failure after severe crash situations.
The agency advised GM on Friday that it would open a preliminary evaluation of Volt battery assemblies after NHTSA test results caused electrical fires up to three weeks after an initial vehicle New Car Assessment Program side pole crash test.
Mary Barra, senior vice president, Global Product Development, said GM had established a senior engineering team to develop changes to eliminate concern of potential post-crash electrical fires and work with industry to ensure appropriate electric vehicle protocols were in place. Barra said such electrical fires had not occurred on public roads and NHTSA was not investigating any such potential imminent failure on the roads.
“GM and the agency’s focus and research continue to be on the performance, handling, storage and disposal of batteries after a crash or other significant event,” she said.
“We’re working with NHTSA so we all have an understanding about these risks and how they can be avoided in the future. This isn’t just a Volt issue. We’re already leading a joint electric vehicle activity with Society of Automotive Engineers and other automotive companies to address new issues, such as this protocol of depowering batteries after a severe crash.”
Barra said the team would continue to work closely with NHTSA, suppliers, dealers and manufacturing teams to initiate any necessary changes as soon as possible.
The Volt achieved a five-star NCAP overall vehicle score for safety by the NHTSA and is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
So far, no fires have been reported in Volts involved in roadway crashes, NHTSA said. More than 5,000 of the vehicles have been sold this year through October.