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Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Blame in on the circuit board
Beth Stackpole   1/10/2012 6:37:28 AM
I don't know how others feel, but as a potential owner of the Chevy Volt (or any other vehicle, for that matter), I'm not that interested in what's to blame for the fire--the LiOn battery or a circuit board or whatever. I'm simply interested in ensuring that the vehicle I purchase is safe and not susceptible to sudden and explosive fires. That said, I applaud GM's efforts to shore up the battery safety structure and I do understand the PR effect of making sure the batteries (the heart and soul of the EV vehicle) don't take the hit for the mishap.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Rob Spiegel   1/10/2012 7:07:33 AM
I agree Beth. It seems in this chase GM handled the situation well. Both the quick program to take back the vehciles and the fast moves to uncover the soruce of the problem. It's refreshing to see a company not jump to hide its flaws.

Jennifer Campbell
User Rank
Gold
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Jennifer Campbell   1/10/2012 1:06:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Not to mention the fact, Rob, that they did it before someone really got hurt. Most often, in cases like these, it takes a tragedy before the product in question is recalled/fixed.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Rob Spiegel   1/10/2012 1:12:37 PM
You're right, Jenn. Just ask Toyota about the accelerators). I was good corporate citizenship, but I would guess GM was also mighty concerned about making sure its EV didn't get a bad rap so soon out of the gate. A couple fires on the road could hurt the whole concept of EVs.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
Alexander Wolfe   1/10/2012 5:47:06 PM
This is a proactive solution where certainly puts GM in a stronger position, market wise. They're addressing the problem instead of burying it, Pinto-like. At the same time, there's the reality that batteries will always be subject to fires under certain conditions (heat, impact).  Probably equaling important is wider education for emergency service personnel on how to handle cars which have high voltage electrics when they're in accidents. This is super critical, because one day a cop, fireman, or EMT is unfortunately going to be electrocuted when they're trying to free someone from an EV if this training doesn't become mandatory.

Lou_C1357
User Rank
Iron
Am I missing something?
Lou_C1357   1/11/2012 9:33:53 AM
Intersting article.  Although I am a bit puzzled by GM response.  It was apparently proven that the cause of the fire was leaking coolant casing a short circuit on a circuit card.  The changes were additional steel to protect the battery from being deformed in a side impact, a sensor on the coolant, and a bracket to prevent overfilling.   None of those changes seem to address how the coolant leaked out, or the circuit card that shorted out because of the coolant leak.

Brett
User Rank
Iron
Re: Am I missing something?
Brett   1/11/2012 10:00:44 AM
I was thinking the same thing about this article Lou.  It is as if half of the facts are missing as to the real reson for all of the extra precautions while not saying one word about how they will contain the coolant or prevent another circuit board short.  From the information provided, if the same tests were performed again, the results would more than likely be the same.

PaulBurke
User Rank
Iron
Perspective
PaulBurke   1/11/2012 10:02:27 AM
All of us are currently driving around on top of a big plastic tank full of gasoline, an improvised rolling bomb as it were. You can crawl under your car and touch it with your hands, there's no exoskeleton fortress built around it. I know the volt is a threat to Big Oil, so once this issue is dealt with by Chevy the next "issue" will be created by the BO lobby. .

FarmerRedWhiteAndBlue
User Rank
Iron
Re: Blame in on the circuit board
FarmerRedWhiteAndBlue   1/11/2012 10:42:32 AM
Alexander, All EV's are hazardous for first responders. Whenever an EV is involved in an incident, all of the rescuers must be extra cautious to prevent the inadvertent electrocution of participants. This problem of familiarization with risks is not a new problem however. For nearly a century, their have been procedures (evolving for sure) to deal with the real threats that are present at every incident.

The EV and all of the newer cars have added risks, that just cannot be assessed effectively, for first responders. Their systems are so complicated and varied that education of the personnel is just not feasable. Neither is it supported by the manufacturers! Just try to get the specs for the locations of all of the air bags, actuators and explosive charges in any new car. All of the hazards at a scene contribute to the time that it takes to provide the services that save lives.

We should all lobby for automobile manufacturers to publish detailed extracation information of every vehicle they build, in an online, public forum as soon as their design is completed. In the case of the Volt, GM had (has) to send out a special team after every incident to drain the battery and make the vehicle safe, as I understand.

BTW, First responders have ALREADY been injured and killed by these automobiles. Thank you for recognizing the problem though. I salute you for that!

Lou_C1357
User Rank
Iron
Re: Am I missing something?
Lou_C1357   1/11/2012 11:24:23 AM
Let's face it there is never going to be a fool proof way to contain the coolant, so the fix will fall to the circuit card, probably in the form a coating, or relocating it to an area where coolant, even if leaked will not come into contact with the circuit board in question.  The other glaring issue is the fire occurred 5 days after the roll over test.  Seems to me this is also going to involve some sort of way to disconnect power post-accident.  I am assuming the circuit board got is power from the battery cell.  I am also wondering if this roll over test was not "violent" enough to cause any safety feature that would have disconnected the battery.  Too many questions, not enough detail to make any sort of analysis.

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