It’s hard to imagine anything more frightening than being in a burning
vehicle. It is the stuff of nightmares especially when it’s a new
car that had green enthusiasts buzzing prior to its release. In 1978 the
Ford Pinto became a world wide news item because of its susceptibility
to crash induced fires. Twenty seven people were killed in Pinto crashes.
Do a little homework and you will discover that Ford and Chevrolet aren’t
the only manufacturers with exploding and burning vehicles; far from it.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regularly issues recalls
in an attempt to prevent exactly these kinds of occurrences and to help
Let’s not forget, the automobile is an electro-mechanical device
made from materials composed of a variety of elements and chemicals. The
car has numerous sources of heat and electrical potentials which can become
sources of fire, if not functioning properly.
This year it is Chevy Volt’s turn on the hot seat, pun intended.
Recently during additional crash testing where the vehicle was hit from
the side by another vehicle, the Volt burst into flames. The source of
the flames was the Lithium battery pack which powers the car. This event
was by itself a very serious by-product of the crash test. It didn’t
end there. Three weeks after the crash test, the same vehicle burst into
flames in a storage facility. This fire was so severe several cars nearby
were also consumed in the flames. The safety issues are very troubling
for any new car owner.
This isn’t the first time there have been serious safety questions
about Lithium Ion battery technology. In 2006 there was an enormous recall
of laptop batteries for the same reason. The laptops would spontaneously
burst into flames. This battery technology has one primary plus point,
its energy storage capacity, and many negatives.
- When heated the battery vents an electrolyte as a mist that is very susceptible
to explosions and fire.
- The Lithium batteries are also susceptible to pressure (crash forces) which
also lead to fire and explosions.
- Lithium is a hazardous material which has to be disposed of when the life
of the battery has expired.
Scientists working in the field of energy storage are busy working on viable
materials to replace the Lithium based technologies. We must hope that
they are successful and that it is soon.
Chevrolet has provided rentals for people who no longer have faith in the
vehicle while they investigate further. Car companies seldom step forward
and proactively do this sort of thing. This is usually the point where aCalifornia Lemon Law Attorney has to step in and assist the consumer. We hope that this problem is dealt
with quickly and effectively because no one wants a lump of coal for the