30 November 2011
General Motors this week said it would give loaner cars to all 6,000 Chevy Volt owners (should they want them) while federal investigators try to figure out why the electric vehicles' batteries are exploding and catching fire in crash-tests.
We won't be taking them up on it.
There have been three car fires (all caused by federal investigators testing crash impact) and two house or garage fires in which a Volt sat in the garage. In the home-fires cases, the Volt has been ruled out at this point either by local fire chiefs or the vehicle owner.
As engineers, you know very well how risk is mitigated with every design–whether it's automotive design, handset design, a PC design or wireless router. General Motors, which, of course stands by its Volt's design and safety, does too.
And we know the difference between provocative headlines ("Crisis deepens for GM's Volt" etc.) and reality. We're still on the road in our Volt, having a great time talking to great engineers about great innovation, and, no, we're not wearing asbestos fire suits along the way.
And as the feds continue to investigate, we may uncover some insight before the investigation comes to a conclusion: In January, we'll tear down a Chevy Volt in Michigan and, in the ensuing five months, we'll report on what we find in our mechanical-electrical explorations that will take you all the way down to the component level, where, no doubt, we'll find some astonishing electronics innovation.