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Transportation Power

Chevy Volt Fire Prompts Safety Investigation For EV Batteries 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the four-door-the-burninator dept.
Three weeks after undergoing a crash test, a Chevy Volt caught fire. The car's battery was determined as the cause of the fire, though GM said its protocols for deactivating the battery following a crash would have prevented it. Either way, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association is now on the case. They're planning additional testing of the batteries, though they were quick to say, "Based on the available data, N.H.T.S.A. does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, all vehicles — both electric and gasoline-powered — have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash." According to the president of an engineering firm, "If a lithium battery is pierced by steel, a chemical reaction will take place that starts raising the temperature and can result in a fire... If the piercing is small, that reaction can take days or weeks to occur."
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Chevy Volt Fire Prompts Safety Investigation For EV Batteries

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  • let's forbid life (Score:3, Insightful)

    by emilper (826945) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:36AM (#38034468)

    ... it causes death 100% of the time

    • because a tank full of liquid, flammable and explosive fuel is so much safer.
      /s
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Hilariously, that's what caused the fire. The fuel tank is DRAINED after collision. Apparently people doing the test didn't drain the battery, as the manual told them to in addition to draining the fuel tank.

      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @05:43PM (#38037026)

        Lets face it if you rode up to the regulators today on your horse and said: "I have a new idea for a product. It will be a giant metal shell on wheels. People will sit in it and move at 60km/h in opposite directions on a narrow road only a meter appart. The metal shell will become the subject of about half of your efforts to control how people use it. Best of all it runs on a highly volatile mixture of hydrocarbons."

        There's no way a car could be invented today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:37AM (#38034472)

    Do you want to know why the American economy is swirling down the shitter? It's became Americans have become nancies. They have become sissies, if you will. They don't have the guts to take real risks. They don't have the guts to try something new.

    Maybe this shouldn't be surprising. America often has been a backward "conservative" nation for much of its history. Aside from a few generations at the very beginning of America's modern history, the tolerance for risk has been decreasing rapidly. Without real risk you can't have real gain.

    This story is a perfect example. This is clearly a very minor issue with a simple solution: if the vehicle gets into a collision, change the fucking batteries! But America as a culture will overlook this, and will overlook the immense economic and environmental benefits that these vehicles would bring, because they are TOO FUCKING SCARED to take what's a very minor risk.

    • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:58AM (#38034564)

      Americans have become nancies. They have become sissies, if you will.

      Well, is it nancies or sissies? Make up your mind. We Americans also have little tolerance for flip-floppers such as yourself.

    • by smpoole7 (1467717)

      > Americans have become nancies ...

      Oh, I agree with that. If present attitudes had been applied to the 1800's, homesteading would have been stopped before it started because (horrors!) some of the pioneers were dying as they made their way across the plains.

      But on the other hand, as a practical matter, I think we need a "Moore's Law" applied to batteries. The batteries that we're using now in electric cars and hybrids are huge, dangerous and expensive. (Buy a Prius, then ask how much it's going to cost

      • by DamonHD (794830)

        The tanks of volatile hydrocarbons in ICE cars and hybrids are huge, dangerous, and expensive.

        In fact, there's a lot less stored energy in an EV than in a petrol/gas tank.

        Rgds

        Damon

        • True, but your nose can tell if your gas tank is punctured. This is (possibly) a new failure mode that you can't smell, so it merits investigation. Incidentally, is the battery in the Volt different from other EV batteries? Wouldn't this have been an issue for Priuses (Prii?) for years now?
        • by sjames (1099) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:20PM (#38035416) Homepage

          I think the part that raised eyebrows is that the fire happened in a car that had been sitting for 3 weeks after a crash test. You don't see that sort of thing with gas or diesel cars, so it is worth noting.

          It's also worth testing to determine just how much of an accident it takes to cause this. Are we talking back into a pole in the parking lot and three weeks later it burns your house down or is it just in the sort of accidents where you won't be driving it afterward anyway?

      • battery technology (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lkcl (517947)

        after 150 years, the design of the lead-acid cell has not really been improved on. rainer partenan's nanotech aluminium-based battery which has (had) a 5x storage capacity improvement for its weight over NiMh was thoroughly discredited. research grants 15 years ago by the U.S. Govt were *only* given for batteries with a voltage over 2.0 volts, in order, one can only assume, to prevent and prohibit the funding and discovery of aluminium-based battery technology.

        we therefore have to work with what we've got

        • Just wondering, why does your 3D model's bodywork look like it was shaped with a sledgehammer?

          Also, a few cars you might want to check out:

          http://i.mitsubishicars.com/miev/features/compare [mitsubishicars.com]

          http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/10/meet-the-one-modular-ev-created-by-fifty-companies/ [wired.com]

          You've almost certainly seen this one:

          http://gordonmurraydesign.com/press-T27-unveiled.php [gordonmurraydesign.com]

          • by lkcl (517947)

            gbrmh, thank you for these really valuable comments and links.

            regarding the aerodynamics: it's because i had to place absolutely every single point and triangle using mm3d by hand! crazed as that sounds, it means i had to pay attention to every single aspect and detail, but yet it is still slowly morphing into something that resembles, at the base, a 2-seater canoe, and on the top a classic delta-wing.

            also bear in mind that it came out of point-matching around photographs (front, side, top, back) where the

        • Hey also I was watching the vid where you wind-tunnel test the cardboard model and I had some ideas:

          First I noticed you had a low-pressure area forming behind the back glass. You should consider installing a "scoop" as seen on the leading edge of the Lancia Stratos' rear window and many other rally cars:

          http://www.zercustoms.com/news/images/Lancia/2011-Lancia-Stratos-8.jpg [zercustoms.com]

          They generate a bit of lift but reduce drag - and in many cases the lift that's killed by filling the low-pressure area behind them is le

          • by lkcl (517947)

            hey really really appreciated the comments.

            i could go over everything but it's yes on all accounts to everything you've said :) so that's really appreciated. btw do you notice how there is a corresponding "suction" bit at the back of the lancia? airflow goes up over the spoiler, but that results in suction of the airflow (bernouilli effect) from underneath.

            yes absolutely on the sportsbike engine and gearbox: i'm actually really looking forward to doing that version :)

            yes on the FWD - we've picked the Suz

        • rainer partenan's nanotech aluminium-based battery

          I got curious so I looked this up.

          1. He is Finnish not American so why should he get US research dollars
          2. He is a convicted criminal for fraud .... the whole thing was a scam.

          Rainer Partanen [google.com.au]

      • by Locutus (9039) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @01:01PM (#38035314)
        FYI, the Prius battery is covered for 10 years and if you still have your car after that and when it finally does go bad, you can replace it yourself with a rebuilt battery pack for under $1,500 or probably double that if you must have someone else follow simple directions and turn a wrench and remove a few bolts. From what I've seen with our 2001 Prius, maintenance costs are far less than a normal car. We've not even had to change the brake pads yet after 100,000 miles thanks to regenerative braking. Oil changes after 5,000+ miles sill result in golden honey colored oil most likely because the engine can run with less heavy loading because there's a battery/motor to help take loads and the starting is done in a gradual manner.

        FYI #2, almost all hybrids use NiMH batteries because they are allowed to by the oil industry. Mobil owns the patent for a few more years and allows NiMH in vehicles not primarily powered by electric power( ie hybrids ). They are not big, not heavy, not expensive and not explosive. Lithium batteries do pack more power density than NiMH but they are expensive and explosive as you mentioned. But Mobile will not let even GM use NiMH batteries in their next generation EV( Volt ). Did you know GM once owned the patent for NiMH and then sold it to Texaco( merged with Mobil shortly after )? Go and watch any of the interviews of GMs Bob Lutz and watch him stay WAY clear of mentioning NiMH batteries and only compare the Li batteries to Pb even though NiMH batteries were used in the EV1 and gave it 125 miles of range.

        I agree with the OP though, Americans are nancies and mostly because we're way ignorant of what goes on around us. The specialization techniques which run up costs and dumb down employees feeds this.

        LoB
      • by tftp (111690) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:02PM (#38038490) Homepage

        Buy a Prius, then ask how much it's going to cost to replace those batteries in a few years. You'll probably pass out from the shock.

        You must be a very impressionable fellow if a simple zero could send you into convulsions.

        I own a Prius for more than a "few years" and the battery is just like new. It has a warranty for 10 years, IIRC. There are millions of Priuses on the road, including the Generation 1 from 2000, but, amazingly, there is no "battery panic" anywhere, except in minds of people with agenda. Those people don't own the car, but they are willing to debate it with people who do.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Maybe this shouldn't be surprising. America often has been a backward "conservative" nation for much of its history. Aside from a few generations at the very beginning of America's modern history, the tolerance for risk has been decreasing rapidly. Without real risk you can't have real gain.

      I don't know why you think that. This risk-adverseness is clearly recent, with most of it happening in the last 50 years.

      • by yoshi_mon (172895)

        I would tend to agree. And the reason why?

        The right wing, the far right wing, captured the republican party. (With a lot of help from far right 'christians'.) And then used the modern day media to crank the fear machine up to 11.

        And yes the left (Or what passes for the left these days.) also does some fear mongering on some issues as well. But not only are they rank amateurs when it comes to it, but they also have to try to be the voice of reason in the face of the military grade propaganda that is fed

    • by Bysshe (1330263)
      Agreed. Stop litigating (or at least stop granting such retardedly large compensation claims). This will encourage the businesses to stay in the US, be more innovative, an funnel resources to things like R&D.
    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      I get what you are saying and agree that many Americans have become pussies, forcing children to wear helmets, etc., but it is recent and not all encompassing.

      We made it to the moon before the Soviets solely because we were willing to take larger risks than they were with human lives. I'm betting the US leads the world in recreational activities that are risky: bungee, BASE jumping, etc. We shoot each other more often, we use more dangerous drugs than any other nation. Our civilian population has more we

      • I think the problem can be defined very simply as the legal-insurance complex.

        .

        There used to be (and still is, to an extent) a military-industrial complex, but far more money is generated through the connivance of lawyers and insurance firms (plus the health and safety industry) that could better be used for public services or for product development.

        It started in the US, but here in the UK it is catching up, to the point that we now have insurance companies selling the details of accident participants t

    • read "the other side of innovation" also see article here http://www.hybridcar.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=822&Itemid=122 [hybridcar.com] you may need to get the text version here - http://lkcl.net/ev/curious_state_of_hybrids.txt [lkcl.net]

      innovation is virtually impossible for mass-production companies to "slot in" to the "efficiency engine". they literally can't do it. there are also legal issues that need to be taken into account, such as a guaranteed 7-year-supply of parts *after* the vehicle's *las

      • by khallow (566160)

        innovation is virtually impossible for mass-production companies to "slot in" to the "efficiency engine". they literally can't do it. there are also legal issues that need to be taken into account, such as a guaranteed 7-year-supply of parts *after* the vehicle's *last* mass-production run is finished.

        The legal requirement for supplying parts can be evaded by only leasing the vehicles. Numerous mass-production businesses have done that for prototypes such as the EV1 (look over this Wikipedia list [wikipedia.org] of modern electric vehicles and see the number of "lease only" vehicles, usually in the US, on the list).

        • by lkcl (517947)

          the RAV4-EV was the same, except there, a public campaign persuaded Toyota to stop, good for them!

    • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:03PM (#38034950)

      Do you want to know why the American economy is swirling down the shitter? It's became Americans have become nancies. They have become sissies, if you will. They don't have the guts to take real risks.

      That's incredibly ironic, since the *actual* reason the economy is in the shitter is because of reckless risk-taking (over-leveraging). Boom and bust, greed and fear, the endless cycle.

      Secondly, the Chevy Volt has not been banned or recalled, even after the fire. So if anything it's evidence that people do tolerate some level of risk.

      It just amazes me so many people will jump in to support an idea that attracts them, even if it flies in the face of the case in point.

      • Indeed, the TFA had little to do with risk aversion.

        A battery pack burned several weeks after damage. They're looking at it. Big whoop.

        As a further public service, TFA points out a couple of failure modes of electric vehicles that not everyone is aware of and ways the manufacturer has attempted to mitigate them. Sounds like good engineering to me.

        Affectionately yours,

        Nancy

    • by phulegart (997083) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:05PM (#38034958)
      How is this comment tagged as Insightful? There must be a metric ton of non-Americans who are ignorant of what life is like over here.

      For example. They are ignorant of the large number of people driving without licenses, in unregistered, uninsured, and un-inspected vehicles. I am not claiming that this phenomenon is limited to the USA, I am instead pointing out that the tolerance for risk has NOT decreased at the rate it is apparently assumed. That's in just one small way as well. Then there are the many permutations based on that scenario.... unlicensed driver in a friend's car, licensed driver in an uninsured car, etc. Then there are the drunk drivers... sometimes, there are drunk Cops on the road. There are those that are high that shouldn't be driving. So with the vast number of cars that should not be on the road for one reason or another in the USA, you take your life into your hands every time you get on the road. Again... not saying that we are unique in this aspect... just pointing out we are no different.

      How long has the Chevy Volt been out on the market? Oh wait... it's less than a year old. It's still only being sold in limited markets. It's not even overseas in most markets. They just had a TEST VEHICLE catch fire WEEKS after it was in an accident. I'm sorry.... this kind of thing is COMMON outside of the USA? Sure, investigators say they cannot repeat the incident. Sure, it's not the American people who are all upset by this but instead it is GM (the manufacturer) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Let's recap then. The Manufacturer is slightly concerned, but points out it's no more dangerous than any other car. The Administration set up by the United States Government (and anyone who thinks that the United States Government does what the people of the USA want is ignorant) to monitor Highway traffic and safety wants to avoid putting cars on the road that might spontaneously burst into flames a few weeks after they were in an accident and repaired... because THEY know that Americans will easily accept the risk of reusing a potentially damaged battery, rather than play it safe and replace it. Wait... did you catch that? There is an important example of how Americans assume risk every day. Something gets damaged, and where others would replace it to be safe, Americans are generally willing and ready to continue to use the damaged product. Doesn't matter if it is a hammer, table saw, damaged gas tank in a car... whatever.

      You say change the batteries after a collision. You are a hypocrite. You make a statement like that, and try to pass it off as common sense so people won't see it for what it is... playing it safe. The whole reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is concerned is BECAUSE a majority of Americans are more likely to ASSUME THE RISK of continuing to use the battery after a collision. You think this makes the American citizens "nancies"? I say your attitude of being afraid the battery would explode and therefore should require replacement shows fear. Your attitude shows you are unwilling to take Risk.

      Oh, and just so it is clear... of course there is a difference between taking a risk and being foolhardy.
      • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @03:07PM (#38036080) Homepage

        We think you are nancies because you did revolt against your government when the patriot act was passed. We think you are nancies because you sue each other over anything and everything. We think you are nancies because you allow you government to do border searches over 100km from the border. We think you are nancies because you allow security theatre at your airports. We think you are nancies because you allow your police to "papers please". We thin you are nancies because you allow the police to stop you taking picture of public buildings. I could go on.

        I look at all your republican candidates (except Romney) and think you guys are just plain crazy.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      The risks they take using ordinary vehicles are substantial, but they ignore. them.

      Being tech-illiterate dumbasses doesn't help.

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      ", said the anonymous wuss
    • I agree with the first paragraph of your statement, but I disagree that America has been a backward conservative nation for "much" of it's history. The Nancy aspect is a more recent phenomenon, IMO. America pioneered many things in it's first 150 years, industrially, scientifically, and otherwise. But yeah, we've taken a back seat to most of the world lately, we've gotten greedy, as well as complacent, entitled, and lazy.
    • by ScentCone (795499)

      America often has been a backward "conservative" nation for much of its history. Aside from a few generations at the very beginning of America's modern history, the tolerance for risk has been decreasing rapidly. Without real risk you can't have real gain.

      You're confusing things. The risk aversion is coming from the left. It's the Nanny-statists, the entitlement culture, and those that tell every kid that they're just as successful as everyone else for having shown up and remembered to breath ... all of that stuff stunts any sort of risk-taking creative impulse. You want to scold someone? Scold the people who have a vested interest in defining society as requiring nannies: it's the professional nanny-like academic layers, the income-confiscation-ists/re-dis

    • This story is a perfect example. This is clearly a very minor issue with a simple solution: if the vehicle gets into a collision, change the fucking batteries

      Really? Change the $10,000 battery when you get into a 5mph fender bender? Who the hell wants that car?

      Maybe this shouldn't be surprising. America often has been a backward "conservative" nation for much of its history. Aside from a few generations at the very beginning of America's modern history, the tolerance for risk has been decreasing rapid

      • Just to modify my own post, I don't think the Volt issue is common, or that safety issues inherent to lithium batteries are limited to the Volt. But the notion that one can simply replace the batteries as an easy solution is silly because they're expensive.
  • volt cells (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pinfall (2430412) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:39AM (#38034484)
    This happened with an old laptop battery I had which was pierced after a fall and left in a metal trash bin. Nothing serious resulted but people need to be aware that damaged batteries are always dangerous. The fact it happened ona volt seems irrelevant. Maybe they can release a new car and call it "duravolt" (like duracell batteries except with a volt tag).
    • Re:volt cells (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @10:56AM (#38034562) Homepage Journal

      The batteries need to not fail _invisibly_ during a crash. If the fire was the result of the crash then it failed the crash test.

      • by danomac (1032160)

        In TFA, it says that there were crashes done to try to replicate the problem. There were procedures to follow after the crash, and it appears that they weren't followed after the original crash test:

        In June, GM and NHTSA both crashed a Volt and couldn't replicate the May fire, said Greg Martin, a spokesman for the automaker. GM has safety procedures for handling the Volt and its battery after an accident. Had those been followed, there wouldn't have been a fire, he said in a phone interview.

        Even after a sev

      • Mostly because I wonder if any post inspection was done of this car. Was it charging when it caught fire? Usually after these tests the cars are not "drive able" so what are we truly dealing with?

        I am no Volt fan, its an over priced and depending on your leaning the subsidy is too high or too low. Seeing the price of the all electric Focus it leads me to believe battery tech is not ready for prime time, or I should say in this day and age, not ready for the 99% club

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Especially in an accident. Not sure why the Volt would get singled out. There's all of six of them on the road. Hell, VWs don't even require accidents to burn up.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      But a Ford Pinto doesn't catch fire when it's sitting in an empty lot 3 weeks after it gets rearended. That's where the concern is coming from, that the delay between the crash and the fire was almost a month. Which is why they are going to be testing the batteries to see under what conditions damage significant enough to cause a fire can occur. I would assume that under standard inspections and repairs after a collision the battery wold be included. But if it wasn't on the standard checklist, it will b
      • by DamonHD (794830) <d@hd.org> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:32AM (#38034740) Homepage

        4 weeks later and entire tank of poisonous and flammable hydrocarbons could leak from a damaged car onto a garage floor or into a drain.

        ICE cars are no angels: we've just gotten used to their failure modes.

        Rgds

        Damon

        • by tftp (111690)

          4 weeks later and entire tank of poisonous and flammable hydrocarbons could leak from a damaged car onto a garage floor or into a drain.

          And most likely it would have all evaporated without any ill effects, other than the empty fuel tank. And if anyone with a nose would be walking by he'd notice the leak immediately.

          The problem here is that the damage to the battery was internal, undetectable, and then unstoppable. (You can't put the Lithium fire out with water.) As Volt is built, the driver just has to

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        But a Ford Pinto doesn't catch fire when it's sitting in an empty lot 3 weeks after it gets rear ended.

        If it has sufficient insurance, it might.

  • Castle (Score:5, Funny)

    by crmarvin42 (652893) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:00AM (#38034578)
    How long before we see a TV show or mystery novelist use an intentional puncturing of a battery to kill someone weeks later?

    I give it two years, any other guesses?
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      Tom Clancy already used a faulty gas tank coating as the impetus to start a trade war that eventually led to a shooting war with Japan and a pilot crashing a 747 into a joint session of Congress. Not much different.
      • by rthille (8526)

        Yeah, and that story lead to 9/11!! (tongue firmly planted in cheek, btw :-)

        • by Nidi62 (1525137)
          Actually no, it led to a war with China(and almost India until they chickened out), and then a war with a merged Iran/Iraq. His newest 2 books did deal with 9/11, however. :)
    • Re:Castle (Score:5, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:31PM (#38035124) Homepage

      How long before we see a TV show or mystery novelist use an intentional puncturing of a battery to kill someone weeks later?

      OTOH, if EV's really take over, then Micheal Bay is toast. Waiting 3 weeks after a collision for the big kaboom is going to wreck havoc on what little plot line his movies have.

    • by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

      The novelist would first consult an expert who would tell him that intentionally puncturing a cell in such a way that it catches fire a week later is virtually impossible. Reprogramming the control circuit, on the other hand is doable. In theory, you could open up a battery, replace a chip, and have the battery explode on command.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:08AM (#38034614)

    I was always skeptical of the Chevy Volt, not because of its technology per se, but because of the "executor". In this case, engineers at Chevy.

    After living in a household that owned Chevys for decades, and seeing how poor workmanship was an almost guaranteed feature in all those vehicles, the Chevy left a bad mark on my mind.

    Even simple stuff like seats were poorly done. The cars over heated in the summer, and many of them would just lose power when you needed it most.

      Needless to say, I do not think I will ever own one even if given to me as a gift.

    • I was always skeptical of the Chevy Volt, not because of its technology per se, but because of the "executor". In this case, engineers at Chevy.

      Have you actually met an engineer at GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Where does your bias against them come from?

      After living in a household that owned Chevys for decades, and seeing how poor workmanship was an almost guaranteed feature in all those vehicles, the Chevy left a bad mark on my mind.

      You need to separate worksmanship from parts' sourcing. When the overall vehicle quality was suffering from the big three, they were also doing a lot of lowest-bidder dealing for parts; making almost nothing themselves. The workers can make sure that the parts are assembled correctly, but if the parts are crap because some bean counter in an office found they could save $.43 per car by sourcing a cri

      • by bogaboga (793279)

        First off, You sound like you own stock in Chevy and the like. I hope you do not: Let me elucidate:

        Have you actually met an engineer at GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Where does your bias against them come from?

        I have not met an engineer at Chevy. What I have met are mechanics that have to deal with the 'crap' Chevy has produced over the years. Trust me, it's ugly. Not a single one painted a good picture of Chevey vehicles, with almost all of them reporting something to the effect that it is like "those vehicles

        • First off, You sound like you own stock in Chevy and the like. I hope you do not: Let me elucidate:

          No, I do not. I'm just tired of people who are bashing without factual basis. As I stated at the end of my message, you are free to hate GM as much as you want, but you would do yourself a favor to base your hatred on fact and not just your own feelings.

          Have you actually met an engineer at GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Where does your bias against them come from?

          I have not met an engineer at Chevy.

          So then it is shown that your bashing the engineers at GM is baseless.

          What I have met are mechanics that have to deal with the 'crap' Chevy has produced over the years

          And that relates to your demonstrated hatred of GM engineers how?

          It doesn't.

          No other major car manufacturer has the same problems especially with leaking coolant and intake manifold gaskets.

          Which is not intrinsically the engineers fault. If the engineers designed a part and then the bean coun

    • Hah! I shall strike at your anecdote with another!

      I have a 1999 GMC K5 pickup - 12 years old. Runs fine, body is pretty good (considering I live in a rust prone environment). Various bits and pieces have broken over the years but the engine and body are basically sound. Seats, etc are also in pretty good shape.

      Of course, children, extended family and dogs are relegated to the bed of the pickup but at least Americans can make a 3/4 ton truck better than anyone else.

      When the Zombie apocalypse comes, I wil

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      You have to realize though, too ,that GM is essentially "Government Motors" today. Sure, it ostensibly remains a private company, but it's one that was supposed to have failed already due to its inefficiency and inability to produce quality products the consumers wanted. Federal government gave them a loan that no private bank was willing to give them under the circumstances, and that clearly came with some catches -- including a mandate to bring on the all electric car, per Obama's wishes to jump-start th

    • As someone who lived in the Detroit area during the 80s and 90s and whose family members spent major portions of their careers employed by GM, I can say that the problems with American cars were not caused by insufficient engineering ability. The problems were the result of complacent and overly conservative management combined with a complacent and overly unionized manufacturing workforce. In the late 70s / early 80s, Complacency in management led to a situation where it didn't matter much what the eng

  • It's been a while since college, but I remember the Lithium in water experiment very well.

    Next NHTSA will discover that 20 gallons of gasoline sitting under the back seat is also a fire hazard.

    -ted

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This is not an unusual scenario for a crashed vehicle. If the driver is injured in the crash beyond ability to communicate and no one else is available to speak on the disposition of the vehicle, or if the police wish to investigate the condition of the vehicle for some reason (e.g. to help determine fault in the collision) then it will be taken to an impound yard where it will sit out under the open sky, exposed to the elements.

      • And, according to TFA, you are supposed to call the manufacturer, explain what happened and get some advice. Apparently they didn't do that. Think of it as a Poison Control center for cars.....

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday November 12, 2011 @12:14PM (#38035008) Homepage Journal

    If a lithium battery is pierced by steel

    Are you saying we are using steel in cars again? I thought with the exception of the drivetrain, they were pretty well all plastic today.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      that bit about the steel bothered me too. it takes no steel at all and even plastic or a stick or anything for that matter can cause the runaway chem reaction. It's about damaging the cell integrity and that bit about steel gives the impression there's a conductive element to this and that's not true. Steel will make it easier to cause a runaway chem reaction but it's not required.

      Two people locally lost personal property( a car and a house ) to Li based battery runaways. One from poor charging regiment(the
  • I would rather have a battery catch fire than a CNG fuel tank explode. There have been craters left where those vechicle used to be.

    Electric vechicles are like SSD's. They cost more, have less range, limited (write) recharge cycles and reliability issues are still being worked through as the technology is new.

    Even as I reject and poke fun of the technology in its current state...there is no denying it is the future.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @02:30PM (#38035854) Homepage

    And here they are [montgomerycountymd.gov], from the 2-hour training session for first responders to Chevy Volt accidents. It's necessary to open the trunk and cut 12V cables at two points with heavy wire cutters. The cut points are marked with yellow tape printed with a firefighter hat and wire cutters. Here is GM's official instruction sheet [towserver.net] for this. There's also a battery disconnect switch inside the center console of the vehicle, where a big plug is turned and removed. That's the normal procedure for disconnecting power during service.

    So that's the documented "protocol following the crash". That's what GM says to do, and what a first responder or a tow company would have done if they did everything right. It would have had little effect if a battery had an internal short.

    The Prius, Civic, and Ford Escape each have completely different battery disconnection procedures. [aa1car.com] The first responder community is not happy about this. They want a standardized, easy to get at way to quickly disconnect the high voltage battery in an emergency.

    • by schwaang (667808)

      No, you've confused the instructions for first responders with the instructions for the dealerships doing post-crash repairs.
      Per a post elsewhere [priuschat.com]:

      The Volt service manual documents what should be done to inspect the high voltage systems following a collision in Volume 2, section 11, page 332. After a collision as severe as in the side-impact crash test, the battery pack should be removed from the vehicle.

      Still it's a good thing NHTSA is looking into this (while not picking solely on GM). After the Toyota u

      • by Animats (122034)

        No, you've confused the instructions for first responders with the instructions for the dealerships doing post-crash repairs.

        Yes, the maintenance instructions say to pull the battery pack. But that's part of repair, not a caution item to be done before even storing the wreckage. What's needed is a quick way for first responders and tow people to check for an internal battery short on a damaged vehicle. Maybe something like temperature-sensitive paint on the battery - "If this square is red, battery may explode; back off and contact HAZMAT". It's going to be a rare problem, but you want to know before moving the wreckage if there

  • Do they test gasoline powered vehicles with tanks full of gasoline? If not, why are they testing EVs with live battery packs?

  • Well, as the nanny state has turned our world upside down in the effort to promote this not-ready-for-prime-time "solution", I predict that whatever else they determine, it will be emphasized that these cars are essential to the future of the nation.

    God forbid they ever let the market work.

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Saturday November 12, 2011 @11:48PM (#38038950) Homepage
    While it might make me certifiable, I actually traded in a 2010 Camaro SS for it on top. That car was too brutally quick for me - back when I raced, I won quite a few with cars far slower, and that was a last blast for me - I don't have the reflexes for 200 mph anymore which the Camaro would do, easy.

    I live off the grid, have plenty of spare power from my PV panels, which I plan to use to keep the thing charged. I don't have to commute (retired) anyway, except to the beer/munchie store. I don't *have* to drive more than once a week or so, and one charge will get me to town and back fine.

    I also have a 2011 Cruze, and it's easy to see why they are the #1 selling car these days - the thing rocks, and I love it. Granted GM (and other american companies) turned out shit for a few years. I'd just say that it's not universally true now, though I'd not get a Ford (software by MS, scary) or a Chrysler, who still use hot glue to hold their cars together, cheap crap (except for the price).. Bob Lutz really turned GM around. For many years I just bought GM commuter cars used (and real cheap due to people thinking they must be worn out after 100k), with 100k miles on them - no maintenance past changing oil had been done, and I drove them another 20k miles the same way, till I got bored and got another GM - no issues whatsoever - the bashing is just out of place, you euro-trash jerks. Go back to worshiping apple or something, and get off my lawn. GM is BACK.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak

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