General Motors is going to modify its Chevrolet Volt plug-in car to eliminate the possibility that its batteries can catch on fire hours or days after a serious side-impact crash. GM says it was a “customer satisfaction” action and would not be considered a recall.
It turns out that battery coolant could leak on an electronic board, causing the fire, GM said today in a conference call. The leaks were discovered in tests in which a Volt was rotated until it was inverted. Only a small amount of coolant, a few cupfuls, were involved.
To fix it, GM will modify the car to strengthen the protection around the battery. It will only add a few pounds. “It is a structural reinforcement that distributes the load,” said GM’s Mary Barra. But GM’s North American chief Mark Reuss says the battery itself is safe and doesn’t need modification. He says only about 250 owners asked GM for loaners or to have their car bought back. GM has sold more than 8,000 Volts, which can travel 25 miles or more on electric power alone before a backup gas engine kicks in.