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back to article Car safety agency sparks e-car battery probe

Two further Chevy Volt lithium-ion batteries have caught fire during tests carried out by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after a separate crash-test Volt's battery burst into flames more than three weeks after the impact. The NHTSA said it was formally opening a safety defect investigation as a result. …

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Boffin

Any news of similar tests for road cars *with full fuel tanks*? I was under the impression that crash tests are normally done with empty fuel tanks because they tend to catch fire if the tank is full. In fact the Euro-NCAP test specifications refer to "ballast in the fuel tank".

Maybe EV tests now need to be done with "ballast in place of the batteries" or internal combustion cars should be tested with real fuel!

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Anonymous Coward

Movie myth that.

Tests are done with very little fuel only as a precaution. If you think about it, that means that in fact there's probably a larger amount of fuel vapour laden air in the tank. Thats what actually burns /explodes.

Mythbusters did an episode where they proved that it's actually quite hard to crash a car these days and have a flaming explosion. So the movies have that badly wrong.

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Lithium isn't the fuel

Technically the equivalent test would be to crash it with a flat battery. The problem isn't the fuel, but the structural material that the battery is made of. Of course, they could require people to remove the batteries before they have an accident...

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Mushroom

Remove the batteries before you have an accident?

If Apple made electric cars, maybe.

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Flame

eject the warped core!

removing batteries could be automated. Impact sensors a la airbags (not Bulgarian) and eject batteries prior to becoming too deformed. But then batteries become someone else's problem and an impending expensive litigation no doubt. Shame Chevy didn't call it the Voltan, or Nova-LT.

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Flame

So no heartwarming stories about a rescue weeks later?

So it manages to stay cool for hours or weeks after a severe crash? And only catches fire when you start flipping it around?

I'm not sure this is really a great safety concern, except maybe to junkyards and autorecyclers.

// Fire because, well, obvious

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Anonymous Coward

Imagine the carnage

if your iPhone AND your Li Ion battery powered car both decide to spontaneously blow up.

Will no one think of the children...oh the humanity...and so forth.

This could devastate the 'creatives'..and / or the Barrista's.

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Meanwhile, Hollywood breathes a sigh of relief

Electric cars could mark the end of one of the film industries most over-used cliches. Can you imagine a car chase (in electric cars !!! ) or gunfight where one (or preferably all) the vehicles involved don't catch fire or explode at the slightest provocation?

At least this will save the FX people from having to come up with an even more unlikely source for artificial excitement and story-rescuing spectacular scenes. Though it may mean some script rewriting if the resultant explosions (and now they can introduce sparks and lightning and maybe even electrocutions too) don't happen until a day or two after the event.

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Updated cliche is already in place.

"Demolition Man": Simon Phoenix shoves a cop's 'leccy nightstick into the charging socket of a 'leccy car, which promptly goes Hollywood-style KABOOM.

The only difference to the usual Hollywood-style car KABOOM was the addition of some showers of sparks to make the point.

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Truth never stopped Hollywood

Watch a chase scene sometime and count how many times an automatic transmission shifts up, and up, and up, never down.

Listen to tires squeal on dirt!

Amazingly, the car goes off a cliff and bursts into flames in mid-air! How did that happen, hit a bird?

For reality watch the film clips of the Indy car crash that claimed Dan Wheldon. The fuel is 2% gasoline 98% ethanol. The gasoline is added 1) to add color to burning fuel, and 2) to meet US regulations rendering it unfit for human consumption.

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Trollface

Where's Ralph when you need him?

How long before the next Ralph Nader is out there with an "Unsafe at any Charge Level" book for the electric automobile age? Then again, Ralph is only 77 but it is coming up on an election year so he'll probably be too busy campaigning for that. Perhaps Jeremy Clarkson is available.

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