HolyCoast: Chevy Volt, The Ford Pinto of Our Time

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chevy Volt, The Ford Pinto of Our Time

Back in the 70's the Ford Pinto was a surprisingly popular car...until they started blowing up in rear-end collisions.  Turns out a design flaw made them very susceptible to ruptured fuel tanks even in relatively slow speed collisions.

The Chevy Volt uses a different kind of energy, but it still burns when it gets hot enough:
As promised, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into the safety of lithium batteries after a Chevrolet Volt caught fire back in May. After conducting three different tests two weeks ago, the NHTSA found that the Volt’s battery either caught fire or began to smoke in two out of the three.

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt underwent several tests in a NHTSA Wisconsin facility earlier this year. On May 12, 2011, it experienced the side-impact crash test. Three weeks later, the plug-in electric vehicle (EV) caught fire while parked in the NHTSA testing center.

The fire, which was fierce enough to burn other vehicles parked nearby, prompted an investigation of the Chevrolet Volt and the safety of lithium batteries.

The NHTSA conducted side-impact crash tests for the Chevrolet Volt on November 16, 17 and 18. After each test, the batteries of the three separate Volts were then rotated 180 degrees. Out of the three tests, two resulted in fire, smoke or sparks while one remained normal.

The November 16 test had normal results, while the November 17 test led to a battery fire one week later and the November 18 test caused the battery to smoke and emit sparks. The battery packs of the three Volts were not drained after any of the crashes.

The results have led to a formal investigation of the safety of the Chevrolet Volt and its lithium battery.
The biggest difference between the Pinto and the Volt? People wanted to buy Pintos. So far few want to buy Volts, and given the problems with the batteries, that number is sure to drop.


Sam L. said...

Design flaw, and management flaw--cheap part put in that a little more expensive part would have protected. But someone(s) thought, "What's the chance of being rear-ended? The cheap part will save us more money."

Larry said...

Every time I hear ‘Ford Pinto’ I can't help but remember that scene from Top Secret. Classic.

I wonder why NBC hasn't done an expos√© on this, complete with pyrotechnics, like Dateline did to the Chevy Blazer back in ‘93? Of course, pickup trucks are redneckmobiles, and electric cars are metrosexual eco-scooters.