On Wednesday, a General Motors (GM) lithium-ion battery exploded and caused a fire at a research facility near its Detroit headquarters. Most unfortunately, two people were taken to the hospital – one faces life-threatening injuries.
Lithium-ion batteries like this one are used by GM in the Chevy Volt. Making this just the latest in a long line of Volt fire problems.
“The headlines are not positive for lithium-ion and General Motors,” Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said in a telephone interview. “It does bring up the subject of the dangers associated with batteries.”
Indeed it does. Let us review these Volt dangers, shall we?
The Chevy Volt entered the market in December 2010. There were in 2011 (at least) six Volt fires. GM and the Barack Obama Administration acknowledged only one – a battery fire after a test crash.
The Obama Administration was in full GM damage control mode. Obama’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reviewed the one fireand – shocker – declared GM and the Volt good to go.
But what about the other fires?
NHTSA themselves had two other test fires.
In April, 2011 a Volt burst into flames. Twice.
A $800,000 garage fire in Mooresville, North Carolina led the local power company to warn its customers to stop using the Volt charging stations until they knew they were safe.
And there were throughout 2011 multiple overheating Volt power cords, reaching temperatures upwards of 158* Fahrenheit and causing second degree burns. Fire hazards – waiting to happen.
GM and the Obama Administration were aware of all of these incidents. Yet NHTSA investigated none of them.
And because GM and the Obama Administration repeatedly kicked this dangerous, flaming can down the road, GM has spent most of 2012 in full-on Volt repair mode.
In January, GM “called back” every single Volt ever sold in the U.S., to fix the allegedly already “fixed” battery.
“This is a customer satisfaction program, which is voluntary, that we’re choosing to do,” explained the automaker’s Mary Barra during a conference call Thursday morning.
But that didn’t fix the problem either. So in March Chevrolet announced they were replacing the power cords for nearly every single Volt ever sold in the U.S.
GM spokesman Randal Fox told Reuters …”It’s just an effort to offer a more consistent charging experience. It’s not a safety recall. It’s more of a customer-satisfaction program,” Fox said.
“Customer satisfaction program” must be the GM equivalent of President Obama’s “Let me be clear.” Only more perilous.
General Motors and the Obama Administration have spent the entire life of the Chevy Volt minimizing and obfuscating a hazardous Chevy Volt fire problem.
We still don’t know what that problem is.
What we do know is that two people were just grievously injured by a Volt-style battery explosion.
And that GM is still selling the Chevy Volt.