General Motors is recalling all Chevy Volts after crash tests revealed a fire danger. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that weeks after an impact coolant can leak, come into contact with circuit boards and ignite. The NHTSA released this statement in November about the issue, and in fact, issued these recommendations for drivers who may be involved in crashes in these types of cars.
Based on the available data, NHTSA 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.
NHTSA urges the following precautions in the event of a crash involving an electric vehicle:
- Consumers are advised to take the same actions they would in a crash involving a gasoline-powered vehicle — exit the vehicle safely or await the assistance of an emergency responder if they are unable to get out on their own, move a safe distance away from the vehicle, and notify the authorities of the crash.
- Emergency responders should check a vehicle for markings or other indications that it is electric-powered. If it is, they should exercise caution, per published guidelines, to avoid any possible electrical shock and should disconnect the battery from the vehicle circuits if possible.
- Emergency responders should also use copious amounts of water if fire is present or suspected and keeping in mind that fire can occur for a considerable period after a crash should proceed accordingly.
- Operators of tow trucks and vehicle storage facilities should ensure the damaged vehicle is kept in an open area instead of a garage or other enclosed building.
- Rather than attempt to discharge a propulsion battery, an emergency responder, tow truck operator, or storage facility should contact experts at the vehicle's manufacturer on that subject.
- Vehicle owners should not store a severely damaged vehicle in a garage or near other vehicles.
Consumers with questions about their electric vehicles should contact their local dealers. Chevy dealers will add a metal structure around the Volt's battery pack.
No fires have been reported in real-world situations, only during testing.