As worries swirl over an investigation into Chevrolet Volt battery fires, Chevrolet is working to reassure Volt owners and customers that the electric car is safe to drive. The Volt’s exemplary safety ratings will not be changed, and Chevrolet will continue offering free loaner vehicles to any Volt owner who is uncomfortable driving their car.
Contrary to many reports, Chevrolet continues to note that it is not launching a widespread campaign to repurchase the Volt from concerned customers, instead offering other General Motors vehicles as loaner cars during the length of the fire investigation. However, The Detroit News reports that a “couple dozen” owners have specifically contacted Chevrolet to ask for their cars to be repurchased.
In those cases, the company says it will work to satisfy all Volt customers -- even if that means a limited number of vehicle buybacks. Primarily, however, GM wants to provide loaner cars in order to appease worried customers. “For those few who have requested repurchase, we're going to move fast,” spokesman Greg Martin told the News.
At the same time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has said the Chevrolet Volt will not lose its Top Safety Pick rating. Officials from the IIHS told Reuters that the group’s crash tests did not reveal any potential damage to the Volt’s lithium-ion battery packs. The IIHS also won’t be conducting its own investigation into the risk of post-accident fires. In IIHS testing, the Volt received “Good” ratings in front, side, rollover, and rear crash tests, which lead to the car scoring the agency’s coveted Top Safety Pick designation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also doesn’t plan to change its safety rating for the Volt. The NHTSA evaluation gave the Volt a five-star crash-test rating, the agency’s highest accolade. However, NHTSA is working with GM to determine whether the Volt’s battery pack is likely to catch fire after a serious accident.
NHTSA and Chevrolet began investigating whether Volt battery packs posed a post-crash fire risk when a Volt caught fire after being subjected to a serious crash test. The Volt was used for a side-impact and rollover crash evaluation, and caught fire three weeks after the test. Later, Volt battery packs subjected to simulated crash tests in laboratories caught fire or emitted sparks a few days after impacts.
Chevrolet says the Volt is safe and has not yet issued a recall for the car. There also has not been a stop-sale notice in the U.S., although the battery investigation will delay the launch of the Volt’s European derivative, the Opel/ Vauxhall Ampera. The company may consider redesigning the lithium-ion battery pack in the Chevrolet Volt to help prevent damage during a collision.