You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Federal authorities investigating Chevy Volt that caught on fire weeks after crash test

By Nathan Bomey

The federal government is investigating the safety of General Motors' Chevrolet Volt and other cars with lithium batteries, according to a Bloomberg report today that has seized the attention of the auto industry.


The Chevrolet Volt has a 400-pound lithium ion battery pack.

Courtesy photo

A Volt "caught fire while parked at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing center in Wisconsin, three weeks after a side-impact crash test," Bloomberg reported.

That incident prompted federal inquiries and sparked fears among alternative propulsion advocates that consumers will get a negative impression of electric vehicles.

The Volt, using a 400-pound battery pack, can travel about 35 miles on a single charge of electricity before a gasoline engine kicks in and recharges the car's batteries.

Several news entities reported that GM responded to the Bloomberg report by asserting that the fire would not have occurred had federal officials followed proper safety procedures after the crash test.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

The Volt, along with electric hand grenades , excuse me CFL's.. toilets that don't flush and dictates as to the type of toilet paper you'll be able to use on them (just give em time ) are just a few of the many wonderful and insitefull policy's being forced on us by the bureaucrats of the nanny state that the sheeple have put in to power..local regional or national when it comes to politics , policy and those that buy into this type of crap , it still remains "you can't fix stupid"....2012's on the horizon...God help us...

Dog Guy

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

Are there any Volt customers other than politicians, the U. S. government, and General Electric? Oops, I am being redundant all over again.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

Yes, you and I are both "customers", since we are paying the generous $7500 per unit subidy.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

This is not an isolated incident. Duke Energy in North Carolina has asked car owners with electric charging stations to stop using them in light of a house which was destroyed by fire, which may have originated in the charging station.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.


Tom Joad

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Even a common 12 volt auto battery can cause a fire if arcing occurs, not surprising a high powered lithium ion battery would burn in a crash


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

Beside using Fossil Fuel for electricity, catching fire while charging, cost a lot of money and burning gas after 25 miles why would anyone buy this car? Maybe Buy American?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

These cars don't catch fire when charging. This particular vehicle was left sitting after testing. If you deplete any lithium battery there is a chance of fire. If I was in the market for a car I would seriously consider the Volt. The amount of engineering you're getting for the price, even unsubsidized, is a considerable value. @Terrin I'm afraid your figures are off. The total range is 370 miles and when the batteries are depleted the Volt gets about 37 mpg on gasoline.

Terrin Bell

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

Beside being a full featured vehicle, the car averages 95 city / 90 highway on fuel. It can travel close to 900 miles on one fill up of fuel. The car doesn't burn fuel to move. It only burns fuel after 40 miles to charge the batteries, which is far more efficient. Out of all the the alternative fuel vehicles out there, this is the most promising for people who want an electric car that travels more the 150 miles on a charge. The Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus (electric version) both go about 150 miles on a charge. They cost about $35, 000 and $38, 000 respectively. What is 2 thousand more for the Volt, especially when you get a $7, 500 tax credit? For some the car is still expensive right now, but the cost is slowly dropping. Although I am a Ford and VW fan, and wouldn't consider buying a GM vehicle, the VOLT has caught my eye several times on the road. It is very stylish.