NHTSA investigating welds surround Chevy Volt lithium-ion batteries

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed in a memo obtained by Reuters that it is investigating the welds near the lithium-ion battery on the Chevrolet Volt electric car and whether it was responsible for fires following crash tests.

According to Reuters, NHTSA said “visible weld changes at key points on the underside” of the Chevy Volt may have led to excessive damage to the lithium-ion batteries which charge the new GM vehicle. In May, NHTSA conducted side-impact crash tests on Chevy Volt. A few weeks following the crash tests, one of the vehicles caught fire, which was traced to a leaking lithium-ion battery.

This and a follow-up safety test on the batteries conducted recently has prompted more investigations into Chevy Volt fires and even led to GM offering to buy-back any Volts from concerned owners. Other recent reports indicate no owners have taken advantage of GM’s offer and no Volts have caught fire outside of crash tests.

Reuters also learned that GM is considering a change to the welds in the protective case which surrounds the lithium-ion batteries as one potential fix to the problems with the battery fires.

Trouble with lithium-ion batteries is not new and have become more common as their use increases in everyday technology. These batteries power items like MP3 players, cell phones, tablets and laptop computers. Problems linked to batteries in these devices has led to several incidents involving fire and property damage.