Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chevy Volt May Have a Few Problems

Electric car battery catches fire after crash test - One of the reasons that the Tesla Roadster was so delayed was over battery safety. Lithium batteries are a bit of a problem. So Tesla added a lot of weight to make the batteries more fireproof.

Looks like maybe Chevy didn't do its homework.
A Chevrolet Volt that caught fire three weeks after its lithium-ion battery was damaged in a government crash test has regulators taking a harder look at the safety of electric car batteries, federal officials said Friday.
That is just enough time to get the car fixed and have it parked inside your garage. Just in time to catch fire.


Anyone who thought a bunch of government-appointed folks could build a better mousetrap must have been working in government (or community organizing) for the last 30 years. OK, a fair number of people at GM were people who had always been at GM. Expecting them to do something different also doesn't make sense.

To be fair to GM, the government didn't follow the procedures specified.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said the test did not follow procedures developed by GM engineers for handling the Volt after a crash. The engineers tested the Volt's battery pack for more than 300,000 hours to come up with the procedures, which include discharge and disposal of the battery pack, he said.

"Had those protocols been followed after this test, this incident would not have occurred," he said.
So how much does it cost to replace the Volt's battery pack after a crash?

And why isn't the government testing center following the standard procedures?


@BobbleHeadGuru said...

1. So how do you respond to the account that there are 250,000 "car-b-ques" per year in Internal Combustion Engine vehicles?

2. Do you think there would have been fires in regular Internal Combustion Engine NHTSA test if they did not drain the cars of gasoline, which is standard operating procedure.

Evidence points to a procedural miscue that caused the fire. NHTSA did not realize what they needed to do after the crash test.

Obviously, if a Volt is in a crash, you need to remove and dispose of the battery.

Zendo Deb said...

My POINT was, that probably GM cut corners on the battery - especially since they outsourced its development.

Compared to the YEARS Tesla spent on their battery (and their transmission, though they go faster than the Volt), my guess is that the Volt is LESS safe than the TESLA.

I never mentioned the internal combustion engine, because I was making a point about government ownership of private companies. Not about engineering.

Farris Khan said...

From an analytical standpoint, I am not sure I can connect the dots the way you did.

GM has a lot more to lose than a "startup" like Tesla. Much higher volume, much bigger profile, with too many people rooting for an opportunity to point to any "dismal failure" they can find.

GM has also crowned the Chevy volt their flagship vehicle.

My gut feel is that GM tested the Volt at least 5 times more than the Telsa (in hours). I would love to see if you have any evidence to the contrary.

Ironically, the actual test result for this car was a perfect 5 Star Rating for crash safety. This is a number that is very difficult to achieve.

I think the Tesla has not been tested yet. I would be very interested to see if the Tesla can pass the same difficult crash test with 5 stars.

What GM did not do was put their cars in storage with leaking combustible parts, as NHTSA did.

NHTSA knew to drain the gas from the tank, but did not think to remove the battery.

I would be happy to have you take a look at my take:

Zendo Deb said...

Actually, as I said, GM didn't develop this batter from the ground up, the way Tesla did. They outsourced most of the work on the battery - I can't remember the companies name off the top of my head.

The only way that the Volt will be a flagship is if Obama gets cronies to buy the vehicle for fleets. The public is staying away from the Volt in astonishing numbers. And I'm sure that the federal government, and few friends like GE will probably buy some Chevy Volts. It has to be made to look good politically, even if they are playing games to make it come out right.