Feds clears Volt on electric vehicle battery safety issue

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues statement saying electric vehicles pose no greater risk of fire than conventional automobiles.

Over the weekend, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uploaded a whole bunch of research files and videos to its Web site that, in effect, signaled the close of its investigation into possible battery safety problems with the Chevrolet Volt.

The investigation, which became public late last fall around Thanksgiving, was launched after crash tests resulted later in some fires related to the Volt's battery housing. Chevrolet, while maintaining the reliability of its technology, took the unusual step of announcing what was in effect a voluntary recall and design modification earlier this year.

In its press release about the close of the investigation, the NHSTA said the investigation "concluded that no discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts."

The agency also went out of its way to state that it doesn't believe electric vehicles are any more or less dangerous than conventional vehicles. But the lack of real-world crash data led it to launch its investigation two months ago. It said: "NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. Generally, all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash. However, electric vehicles have specific attributes that should be made clear to consumers, the emergency response community and tow truck operators and storage facilities."

Point duly noted.

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