GM has improved the safety of its Volt range-extender hybrid after crash tests revealed a battery coolant leak following high magnitude impacts could lead to electrical fires up to three weeks after the incident.
The American manufacturer has addressed the issue by strengthening the Volt’s chassis in strategic areas to further protect the battery pack in a high-impact side collision.
A sensor in the battery coolant reservoir now monitors coolant levels, while a tamper-resistant bracket on the top of the reservoir – helping prevent the potential fire risk of coolant overfill – has also been added.
The modifications will be incorporated into the manufacturing process before the Volt and its sister vehicle, the Vauxhall Ampera, go on sale in the UK.
Collisions causing coolant leaks
In a full-scale vehicle crash test in May 2011 it was discovered that the battery coolant leak, resulting from intrusion into the battery housing, could trigger an electrical fire.
After an American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Preliminary Evaluation into post-severe impact battery performance in November last year, test conditions replicated the scenario, causing an electrical fire six days later, prompting the revisions in safety by GM.
Chevrolet Volt: Strong safety record
In spite of these findings, the Volt has so far been recognised as a safe car to drive, being awarded a five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash test programme.
GM tested the Volt’s modifications in December last year with four successful crash tests recording no intrusion into the battery pack and no coolant leaks in all experiments.
GM senior vice president of Global Product Development, Mary Barra: ‘These enhancements and modifications will address the concerns raised by the severe crash tests.
‘The Volt has always been safe to drive. Now, we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers’ peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash.’
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