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Chevy Volt Fire Prompts Safety Investigation For EV Batteries

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the four-door-the-burninator dept.

Transportation 225

Three weeks after undergoing a crash test, a Chevy Volt caught fire. The car's battery was determined as the cause of the fire, though GM said its protocols for deactivating the battery following a crash would have prevented it. Either way, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association is now on the case. They're planning additional testing of the batteries, though they were quick to say, "Based on the available data, N.H.T.S.A. does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. In fact, all vehicles — both electric and gasoline-powered — have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash." According to the president of an engineering firm, "If a lithium battery is pierced by steel, a chemical reaction will take place that starts raising the temperature and can result in a fire... If the piercing is small, that reaction can take days or weeks to occur."

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let's forbid life (2, Insightful)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034468)

... it causes death 100% of the time

Re:let's forbid life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034486)

If that were the case who would the government tax?

Re:let's forbid life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034494)

Your mum

Re:let's forbid life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035068)

no YOUR mum

Re:let's forbid life (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034670)

the government would tax the auditors, then ... plenty of them

Re:let's forbid life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034548)

Well, you can always prolong it with an injection of $13.4 billion...

Mortal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034718)

Speak for yourself mortal.

V. Drakul

Re:let's forbid EV Batteries (2)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035284)

because a tank full of liquid, flammable and explosive fuel is so much safer.
/s

Why have Americans become nancies? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034472)

Do you want to know why the American economy is swirling down the shitter? It's became Americans have become nancies. They have become sissies, if you will. They don't have the guts to take real risks. They don't have the guts to try something new.

Maybe this shouldn't be surprising. America often has been a backward "conservative" nation for much of its history. Aside from a few generations at the very beginning of America's modern history, the tolerance for risk has been decreasing rapidly. Without real risk you can't have real gain.

This story is a perfect example. This is clearly a very minor issue with a simple solution: if the vehicle gets into a collision, change the fucking batteries! But America as a culture will overlook this, and will overlook the immense economic and environmental benefits that these vehicles would bring, because they are TOO FUCKING SCARED to take what's a very minor risk.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (5, Funny)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034564)

Americans have become nancies. They have become sissies, if you will.

Well, is it nancies or sissies? Make up your mind. We Americans also have little tolerance for flip-floppers such as yourself.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034948)

Haven't you Americans ever heard of the concept of "synonyms"? They are different words that mean the same thing.

Maybe this complete ignorance of the concept of synonyms is why you guys think that Democrats and Republicans are somehow different.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (2)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034682)

> Americans have become nancies ...

Oh, I agree with that. If present attitudes had been applied to the 1800's, homesteading would have been stopped before it started because (horrors!) some of the pioneers were dying as they made their way across the plains.

But on the other hand, as a practical matter, I think we need a "Moore's Law" applied to batteries. The batteries that we're using now in electric cars and hybrids are huge, dangerous and expensive. (Buy a Prius, then ask how much it's going to cost to replace those batteries in a few years. You'll probably pass out from the shock.)

In other words -- again, just speaking practically -- I think that electric cars are a great idea, but I don't think the battery technology is there yet.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (2)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034714)

The tanks of volatile hydrocarbons in ICE cars and hybrids are huge, dangerous, and expensive.

In fact, there's a lot less stored energy in an EV than in a petrol/gas tank.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034776)

Actually.. they're not.

They're dangerous, yes. But huge? Not compared to a battery pack. And expensive? Not eeeeeeeven close to a battery pack.

And... we're aware that battery packs have a lot less stored energy than in a petrol tank. That's... kinda why they're not the awesomest thing to happen to autos.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034992)

Depends on what arbitrary thresholds I want to assign to 'huge' and 'expensive'. A full tank's worth is more than I'd want to keep in my bedroom, and continually refilling that tank with petrol/whatever is a lot more expensive than required for the same number of electrically-powered miles.

Just because we're familiar with something doesn't make it 'good' necessarily.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035182)

No, in fact it does not depend on an arbitrary threshold.
"Huge" and "expensive" are relative terms. You've already set the relationship to "petrol tank" and "EV battery pack." Therefore huge and expensive is relative to those two objects. If for some failure of logic, reason, or otherwise generally non-fraudulent formation of argument you wanted to set an "arbitrary threshold" for huge and expensive, it would be self-defeating. Like I said. Petrol tanks are not huge compared to an EV's battery pack. They're also not expensive compared to one. No matter what arbitrary threshold you want to set, thats still currently true. And thus your arbitrary threshold would make the EV battery pack the huge and expensive one in the pair.

It is also quite strange that ... you're taking the cost of petrol vs the cost of electricity and converting those costs into the cost of an EV battery compared to the cost of a petrol tank. Do you go around complaining about the cost of milk cartons when they're full of that milk stuff?

Just because something is new doesn't make it 'good' necessarily. See what I did there?

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034968)

True, but your nose can tell if your gas tank is punctured. This is (possibly) a new failure mode that you can't smell, so it merits investigation. Incidentally, is the battery in the Volt different from other EV batteries? Wouldn't this have been an issue for Priuses (Prii?) for years now?

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (3, Informative)

BBTaeKwonDo (1540945) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035240)

No, the Prius uses nickel-metal hydride batteries, not lithium ion.

battery technology (1, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035066)

after 150 years, the design of the lead-acid cell has not really been improved on. rainer partenan's nanotech aluminium-based battery which has (had) a 5x storage capacity improvement for its weight over NiMh was thoroughly discredited. research grants 15 years ago by the U.S. Govt were *only* given for batteries with a voltage over 2.0 volts, in order, one can only assume, to prevent and prohibit the funding and discovery of aluminium-based battery technology.

we therefore have to work with what we've got: it's no good saying "oh we have to wait yet _another_ decade or two until someone comes up with the goods" FUCK that, there are more ways than one to skin a cat, ok?

so the alternatives are to skin the vehicle down to an absolute minimum required, then make it *look* from the outside (for social acceptance as well as driving safety reasons) like it's a "full-on square back-sided car" jobbie. in other words, you stuff a massively-streamlined body inside an empty outer shell. this is the principle behind what i'm working on - http://lkcl.net/ev [lkcl.net]

it's _not_ all about the batteries. we _have_ all the pieces of the puzzle already - have done for over 5 years now. it's just that nobody's put them all together... yet.

Re:battery technology (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035378)

Just wondering, why does your 3D model's bodywork look like it was shaped with a sledgehammer?

Also, a few cars you might want to check out:

http://i.mitsubishicars.com/miev/features/compare [mitsubishicars.com]

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/10/meet-the-one-modular-ev-created-by-fifty-companies/ [wired.com]

You've almost certainly seen this one:

http://gordonmurraydesign.com/press-T27-unveiled.php [gordonmurraydesign.com]

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (5, Informative)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035314)

FYI, the Prius battery is covered for 10 years and if you still have your car after that and when it finally does go bad, you can replace it yourself with a rebuilt battery pack for under $1,500 or probably double that if you must have someone else follow simple directions and turn a wrench and remove a few bolts. From what I've seen with our 2001 Prius, maintenance costs are far less than a normal car. We've not even had to change the brake pads yet after 100,000 miles thanks to regenerative braking. Oil changes after 5,000+ miles sill result in golden honey colored oil most likely because the engine can run with less heavy loading because there's a battery/motor to help take loads and the starting is done in a gradual manner.

FYI #2, almost all hybrids use NiMH batteries because they are allowed to by the oil industry. Mobil owns the patent for a few more years and allows NiMH in vehicles not primarily powered by electric power( ie hybrids ). They are not big, not heavy, not expensive and not explosive. Lithium batteries do pack more power density than NiMH but they are expensive and explosive as you mentioned. But Mobile will not let even GM use NiMH batteries in their next generation EV( Volt ). Did you know GM once owned the patent for NiMH and then sold it to Texaco( merged with Mobil shortly after )? Go and watch any of the interviews of GMs Bob Lutz and watch him stay WAY clear of mentioning NiMH batteries and only compare the Li batteries to Pb even though NiMH batteries were used in the EV1 and gave it 125 miles of range.

I agree with the OP though, Americans are nancies and mostly because we're way ignorant of what goes on around us. The specialization techniques which run up costs and dumb down employees feeds this.

LoB

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034730)

Maybe this shouldn't be surprising. America often has been a backward "conservative" nation for much of its history. Aside from a few generations at the very beginning of America's modern history, the tolerance for risk has been decreasing rapidly. Without real risk you can't have real gain.

I don't know why you think that. This risk-adverseness is clearly recent, with most of it happening in the last 50 years.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (2)

Bysshe (1330263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034768)

Agreed. Stop litigating (or at least stop granting such retardedly large compensation claims). This will encourage the businesses to stay in the US, be more innovative, an funnel resources to things like R&D.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (2)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034852)

I get what you are saying and agree that many Americans have become pussies, forcing children to wear helmets, etc., but it is recent and not all encompassing.

We made it to the moon before the Soviets solely because we were willing to take larger risks than they were with human lives. I'm betting the US leads the world in recreational activities that are risky: bungee, BASE jumping, etc. We shoot each other more often, we use more dangerous drugs than any other nation. Our civilian population has more weapons than the majority of countries have in their entire militaries (well over 300 million civilian firearms in the US). Compared to any other developed cultures I can think of, Americans live much closer to the edge.

The problem in America isn't the average American, it is the average American politician cowtows to the cries of a very few pussies, while the majority of people have no problem with the risk. One person can yell "think of the children!!!" and a law gets passed, and the rest of us are simply taken for a ride. The problem is political.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (2)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035034)

I think the problem can be defined very simply as the legal-insurance complex.

.

There used to be (and still is, to an extent) a military-industrial complex, but far more money is generated through the connivance of lawyers and insurance firms (plus the health and safety industry) that could better be used for public services or for product development.

It started in the US, but here in the UK it is catching up, to the point that we now have insurance companies selling the details of accident participants to ambulance chasing legal firms, and claiming that such a practice lowers insurance costs. Add to that the overrepresentation of the legal "profession" in government, and the sharks have it all sewn up.

It's the Broken Window fallacy writ large, and short of a bonfire of legislation, nothing can stop it.

mass-volume production + innovation is too hard (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034866)

read "the other side of innovation" also see article here http://www.hybridcar.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=822&Itemid=122 [hybridcar.com] you may need to get the text version here - http://lkcl.net/ev/curious_state_of_hybrids.txt [lkcl.net]

innovation is virtually impossible for mass-production companies to "slot in" to the "efficiency engine". they literally can't do it. there are also legal issues that need to be taken into account, such as a guaranteed 7-year-supply of parts *after* the vehicle's *last* mass-production run is finished.

the article above goes into detail.
http://lkcl.net/ev [lkcl.net]

Re:mass-volume production + innovation is too hard (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034964)

innovation is virtually impossible for mass-production companies to "slot in" to the "efficiency engine". they literally can't do it. there are also legal issues that need to be taken into account, such as a guaranteed 7-year-supply of parts *after* the vehicle's *last* mass-production run is finished.

The legal requirement for supplying parts can be evaded by only leasing the vehicles. Numerous mass-production businesses have done that for prototypes such as the EV1 (look over this Wikipedia list [wikipedia.org] of modern electric vehicles and see the number of "lease only" vehicles, usually in the US, on the list).

Re:mass-volume production + innovation is too hard (1)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035022)

the RAV4-EV was the same, except there, a public campaign persuaded Toyota to stop, good for them!

California, not America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035342)

there are also legal issues that need to be taken into account, such as a guaranteed 7-year-supply of parts *after* the vehicle's *last* mass-production run is finished.

the article above goes into detail.

That is a CALIFORNIA regulation, not an american one. The electric vehicles were built in the first place because of Californian regulations.

I think the EV-1 was an instance of government regulation costing industry billions. Sure, oil will eventually become too expensive for most people, but the EU shows the price will have to exceed $10/gallon before a large part of the population switches to electric cars. That will be at least another decade, which is enough time to turn current battery technology and electronics into a car model suited for mass production.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034950)

Do you want to know why the American economy is swirling down the shitter? It's became Americans have become nancies. They have become sissies, if you will. They don't have the guts to take real risks.

That's incredibly ironic, since the *actual* reason the economy is in the shitter is because of reckless risk-taking (over-leveraging). Boom and bust, greed and fear, the endless cycle.

Secondly, the Chevy Volt has not been banned or recalled, even after the fire. So if anything it's evidence that people do tolerate some level of risk.

It just amazes me so many people will jump in to support an idea that attracts them, even if it flies in the face of the case in point.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035054)

Indeed, the TFA had little to do with risk aversion.

A battery pack burned several weeks after damage. They're looking at it. Big whoop.

As a further public service, TFA points out a couple of failure modes of electric vehicles that not everyone is aware of and ways the manufacturer has attempted to mitigate them. Sounds like good engineering to me.

                Affectionately yours,

                Nancy

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (5, Interesting)

phulegart (997083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034958)

How is this comment tagged as Insightful? There must be a metric ton of non-Americans who are ignorant of what life is like over here.

For example. They are ignorant of the large number of people driving without licenses, in unregistered, uninsured, and un-inspected vehicles. I am not claiming that this phenomenon is limited to the USA, I am instead pointing out that the tolerance for risk has NOT decreased at the rate it is apparently assumed. That's in just one small way as well. Then there are the many permutations based on that scenario.... unlicensed driver in a friend's car, licensed driver in an uninsured car, etc. Then there are the drunk drivers... sometimes, there are drunk Cops on the road. There are those that are high that shouldn't be driving. So with the vast number of cars that should not be on the road for one reason or another in the USA, you take your life into your hands every time you get on the road. Again... not saying that we are unique in this aspect... just pointing out we are no different.

How long has the Chevy Volt been out on the market? Oh wait... it's less than a year old. It's still only being sold in limited markets. It's not even overseas in most markets. They just had a TEST VEHICLE catch fire WEEKS after it was in an accident. I'm sorry.... this kind of thing is COMMON outside of the USA? Sure, investigators say they cannot repeat the incident. Sure, it's not the American people who are all upset by this but instead it is GM (the manufacturer) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Let's recap then. The Manufacturer is slightly concerned, but points out it's no more dangerous than any other car. The Administration set up by the United States Government (and anyone who thinks that the United States Government does what the people of the USA want is ignorant) to monitor Highway traffic and safety wants to avoid putting cars on the road that might spontaneously burst into flames a few weeks after they were in an accident and repaired... because THEY know that Americans will easily accept the risk of reusing a potentially damaged battery, rather than play it safe and replace it. Wait... did you catch that? There is an important example of how Americans assume risk every day. Something gets damaged, and where others would replace it to be safe, Americans are generally willing and ready to continue to use the damaged product. Doesn't matter if it is a hammer, table saw, damaged gas tank in a car... whatever.

You say change the batteries after a collision. You are a hypocrite. You make a statement like that, and try to pass it off as common sense so people won't see it for what it is... playing it safe. The whole reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is concerned is BECAUSE a majority of Americans are more likely to ASSUME THE RISK of continuing to use the battery after a collision. You think this makes the American citizens "nancies"? I say your attitude of being afraid the battery would explode and therefore should require replacement shows fear. Your attitude shows you are unwilling to take Risk.

Oh, and just so it is clear... of course there is a difference between taking a risk and being foolhardy.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034976)

The risks they take using ordinary vehicles are substantial, but they ignore. them.

Being tech-illiterate dumbasses doesn't help.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035090)

", said the anonymous wuss

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035220)

It's a good thing that you're using your full legal name here, rubycodez. Otherwise we'd have to think that you're some sort of an "anonymous wuss". Oh, wait.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035100)

Maybe you should wait and see how the American consumer reacts to this, before you begin wildly shouting stereotypes in what I assume to be a cockney British accent. The NHTSA report explicitly states electric vehicles are no more dangerous than gasoline vehicles, and I think a lot of Americans will agree with this.

I personally still want an electric car, knowing the risk, and I'm an American. I guess that's because I live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And if you don't like it, you can pack your bangers and mash and GIT OUT.

Re:Why have Americans become nancies? (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035216)

I agree with the first paragraph of your statement, but I disagree that America has been a backward conservative nation for "much" of it's history. The Nancy aspect is a more recent phenomenon, IMO. America pioneered many things in it's first 150 years, industrially, scientifically, and otherwise. But yeah, we've taken a back seat to most of the world lately, we've gotten greedy, as well as complacent, entitled, and lazy.

I smell a rat! (2, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034474)

Batteries are dangerous. They contain high concentrations of ions, which unlike natural atoms, have un-balanced electronic charges, and can cause all sorts of chemical reactions. Why are we Americans putting all kinds of unbalanced atoms into the cars that carry our wives and babies to and from Church? Chevrolet better check and make sure thereare no Italian saboteurs or infiltrators at the engineering plant or the assembly line.

volt cells (5, Interesting)

pinfall (2430412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034484)

This happened with an old laptop battery I had which was pierced after a fall and left in a metal trash bin. Nothing serious resulted but people need to be aware that damaged batteries are always dangerous. The fact it happened ona volt seems irrelevant. Maybe they can release a new car and call it "duravolt" (like duracell batteries except with a volt tag).

Re:volt cells (1)

Kraftwerk (629978) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034554)

After a fall?? So would a large pothole or unseen speedbump be cause for alarm? How much does it cost to get the batteries looked at and tested? Would the warranty cover such a thing?

Re:volt cells (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034562)

The batteries need to not fail _invisibly_ during a crash. If the fire was the result of the crash then it failed the crash test.

Re:volt cells (2)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034946)

In TFA, it says that there were crashes done to try to replicate the problem. There were procedures to follow after the crash, and it appears that they weren't followed after the original crash test:

In June, GM and NHTSA both crashed a Volt and couldn't replicate the May fire, said Greg Martin, a spokesman for the automaker. GM has safety procedures for handling the Volt and its battery after an accident. Had those been followed, there wouldn't have been a fire, he said in a phone interview.

Even after a severe crash of a gasoline-powered car, it surely would be inspected or something before and after repair. It doesn't sound like that happened after this test.

Three weeks after counts as failing too? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035210)

Mostly because I wonder if any post inspection was done of this car. Was it charging when it caught fire? Usually after these tests the cars are not "drive able" so what are we truly dealing with?

I am no Volt fan, its an over priced and depending on your leaning the subsidy is too high or too low. Seeing the price of the all electric Focus it leads me to believe battery tech is not ready for prime time, or I should say in this day and age, not ready for the 99% club

What's the point (0, Flamebait)

ttong (2459466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034512)

Why would anyone drive around in their laptops? Anyone who has one of those know how quickly they die. Sure, electric cars don't produce CO2 but those batteries aren't exactly environmentally friendly on the inside, they need replacements after a certain amount of cycles and the power for the charger still needs to come from somewhere. Could be coal plants for all we know. Investments in these type of cars are useless, no one will be driving around in these kind of cars for long.

You see, petrol has been used quite successfully for the past 100 years and we need something which will last for at least another 100 years. Perhaps something like, you know, hydrogen.

Re:What's the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034538)

Yeah, you're totally right, the exact same type of low-voltage, low-wattage batteries used in sub-$300 laptops are also used in $30,000+ electric vehicles. There's absolutely no difference between them.

ARE YOU FOR REAL? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING?! SERIOUSLY! WHAT THE FUCK!

Re:What's the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034704)

Hydrogen? Really? That was tried decades ago. Maybe you aren't aware of the result? [youtube.com]

Re:What's the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034996)

Just don't take the Thermite Paintwork option if you by a Hydrogen car and you should be O.K

days or weeks? or seconds?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034530)

However, if a lithium battery is shorted, an explosion/fire can occur within seconds. No perforation of the battery is necessary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fG_UuPmLO1c

Re:days or weeks? or seconds?? (2)

Pi1grim (1956208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034592)

And fuel fumes case an explosion if an open flame or an electrical sparc is present. What's your point?

Green == Danger (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034534)

It just goes to show how all this green technology isn't ready for prime time and was forced into the market by Obama.

* Electric cars setting houses on fire.
* Windmills killing condors left and right.
* Windmills disrupt military radar communications.
* You can't even drive with the heater on in an electric car without it reducing your drive time.
* Ethanol requires more energy to produce than it saves.

If we had just left this stuff up to the private market, these products wouldn't make it to market until those problems were worked out. Not to mention the fact that *nobody* is buying electric vehicles.

What a waste of tax dollars.

Re:Green == Danger (3, Interesting)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034840)

Just waiting to see how long it would take to blame the president for a lithium battery fire. Hmmm, not long at all!

* My brothers '72 Capri caught fire in the garage and nearly burned our house down.

* Windmills only kill condors left, but not right.

* Radar ground clutter is well known.

* Using heater uses energy of course. Can't blame Obama for laws of physics being inconvenient sometimes.

* I tend to agree with you on the silliness of ethanol.

Private market is no paragon of virtue. Recall AIG?, Enron? BP oil spill? Bhopal chemical leak? etc. etc.?

Re:Green == Danger (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035138)

Yeah except Obama like many leftists, and environmentalists have this thing against nuclear energy. And have a desire to waste money on windmills and solar. Sorry the cost ratio is what wins at the end of the day. People will not buy power at 60-80c/KWH when they can buy nuclear energy at 3-4c/kwh.

Those are the prices I pay in Florida, oddly enough, those are the same prices I pay in Ontario.

Any car can catch fire. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034542)

Especially in an accident. Not sure why the Volt would get singled out. There's all of six of them on the road. Hell, VWs don't even require accidents to burn up.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034624)

But a Ford Pinto doesn't catch fire when it's sitting in an empty lot 3 weeks after it gets rearended. That's where the concern is coming from, that the delay between the crash and the fire was almost a month. Which is why they are going to be testing the batteries to see under what conditions damage significant enough to cause a fire can occur. I would assume that under standard inspections and repairs after a collision the battery wold be included. But if it wasn't on the standard checklist, it will be now. That's the point of these tests. Hopefully as a result of this they can find better ways to insulate the battery from shock and protect it from damage.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (4, Insightful)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034740)

4 weeks later and entire tank of poisonous and flammable hydrocarbons could leak from a damaged car onto a garage floor or into a drain.

ICE cars are no angels: we've just gotten used to their failure modes.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Any car can catch fire. (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034872)

You spelled out "poisonous" and "flammable" yet you couldn't take the time to type "regards" - or is that just some super cool texting abbreviation I don't know about yet.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034910)

Wow. you're just full of fail. You don't need to get used to that sort of failure mode.. ever.

2 weeks after the crash (for some reason, I guess we're not driving..) you walk into your garage and ponder the pool of gasoline under your car that you're pretty sure you didn't pour out yourself. Gee, that seems like it could be symptomatic of a .. I don't know.. failure. Like a leak. Not that liquid gasoline is so much the problem. Its vaporized gasoline that is really dangerous. And strangely enough, most people can smell gasoline vapor in quantities enough to be a big problem. The stuff is designed that way, for ... pretty much that reason, really.

Pretty sure that your EV's battery won't be leaking a huge pool of lithium spooge all over your garage floor. Cause if it did, that would be a MUCH bigger problem. Does a punctured EV battery emit a strong, relatively uncommon to nature scent? ... No? wow. Shocking, how the uncomfortable fact that EV batteries might still be more dangerous, contain less energy, and take longer to top off might drive others to put EVs on the "not there yet" list. Especially when one considers the high energy cost/types of chemicals used in the manufacture of as well as the price tag on replacement packs.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034994)

No, you are full of fail. Gasoline wasn't designed to have an odor (you are thinking of natural gas).

DamonHD is right. The only thing that makes these failure modes remarkable is we aren't used to them. The electric car has been over-hyped, but that can be addressed without resorting to counter-lies. Who knows, such a frank discussion may result in electric cars being ready for prime time because they turn out to be the most economic option.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034998)

You don't need to get used to that sort of failure mode.. ever.

Well, why aren't we halting the sale of vehicles with gas tanks? That's because we as a society have accepted the risk of gas tanks or to use the language of the grandparent, "gotten used" to the failure mode.

Does a punctured EV battery emit a strong, relatively uncommon to nature scent?

But unlike a gas tank, this car would not only be able to detect there is a puncture (and do so instantly), but discharge the battery and warn the driver of the vehicle.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (3, Insightful)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035026)

Are you claiming that there are no dangerous slow failure modes to conventional cars that an unaware driver could be hurt by, like balding tires, or brake fluid leakage or corroding wiring or whatever? Familiarity doesn't make them OK, and EV drivers will learn to look out for new failure modes if they prove common or dangerous.

So, before accusing *me* of being full of fail, maybe try (a) thinking carefully about my underlying point beyond your OMG!!!11!-status-quo-is-the-only-thing-that-could-possibly-work thinking, and (b) stop posting as AC.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Any car can catch fire. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035114)

Correct! That hypothetical car with a damaged fuel tank could be parked inside in an attached garage. The leaking gasoline would then vaporize and, the vapor being heavier than air, could travel along the floor to a water heater or furnace. The result would be a big explosion. Battery powered vehicles are not unique in a potential fire risk if damaged.

Re:Any car can catch fire. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035204)

Do you know what a common automotive lead acid battery can do?

Ahh the 70's (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034566)

All hail the new Pinto.

Castle (5, Funny)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034578)

How long before we see a TV show or mystery novelist use an intentional puncturing of a battery to kill someone weeks later?

I give it two years, any other guesses?

Re:Castle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034608)

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Re:Castle (1)

gorilla_au (912640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034632)

Could some one please remove the parent entry, above. Thank you.

Re:Castle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035074)

1/ Post are never** removed, only modded down. This sort of post will typically be quickly modded down to the lowest level, -1, and in this case it was.
2/ By replying to this post you effectively gave it higher visibility (currently your reply is at 0 and draws attention to the -1 post for those who read at level 0 or above.)

Ideally such posts should never be acknowledged in any way apart from modding down.

Posting as AC to avoid bringing further attention to your post and (as a consequence) the original spam post.

** Unless ordered to be removed by a relevant court.

Re:Castle (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034634)

Tom Clancy already used a faulty gas tank coating as the impetus to start a trade war that eventually led to a shooting war with Japan and a pilot crashing a 747 into a joint session of Congress. Not much different.

Re:Castle (1)

rthille (8526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035042)

Yeah, and that story lead to 9/11!! (tongue firmly planted in cheek, btw :-)

Re:Castle (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035340)

Actually no, it led to a war with China(and almost India until they chickened out), and then a war with a merged Iran/Iraq. His newest 2 books did deal with 9/11, however. :)

Re:Castle (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035124)

How long before we see a TV show or mystery novelist use an intentional puncturing of a battery to kill someone weeks later?

OTOH, if EV's really take over, then Micheal Bay is toast. Waiting 3 weeks after a collision for the big kaboom is going to wreck havoc on what little plot line his movies have.

I was always skeptical... (4, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034614)

I was always skeptical of the Chevy Volt, not because of its technology per se, but because of the "executor". In this case, engineers at Chevy.

After living in a household that owned Chevys for decades, and seeing how poor workmanship was an almost guaranteed feature in all those vehicles, the Chevy left a bad mark on my mind.

Even simple stuff like seats were poorly done. The cars over heated in the summer, and many of them would just lose power when you needed it most.

  Needless to say, I do not think I will ever own one even if given to me as a gift.

Re:I was always skeptical... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034700)

Sadly, even as a red-blooded American, I have to agree. I would never buy a Ford, GM, or Chrysler product until they can demonstrate competence. I don't give a shit what jdpower or consumer reports thinks, Detroit cats are amateur hour trash. You couldn't give me one. Even the interior ergonomics are amateur hour compared to their Japanese counterparts. Comparing a Cobalt to a Civic is laughable. And European cars are little better. They all rust through and fall apart. And be prepared for a coronary when you go looking for parts. Japanese or bust.

Re:I was always skeptical... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035002)

I'd drop Ford from that list for most car models. They really turned around their quality in a way that I just can't believe. They feel and drive like a luxury car and my family mechanic says he never sees them except for scheduled maintenance (or something caused by no scheduled maintenance... change your oil people!).

Japan has its share of trash manufacturers on the order of crappiness similar to Chrysler. Mitsubishi and Suzuki are not something you would really want to buy if you are concerned about reliability, and Nissan is questionable.

Re:I was always skeptical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034732)

And none of the other car companies have had the same issues? Most people wouldn't touch "Jap crap" in the 70's and 80's. Fords were notorious for their qualitly for a while as well. And unless you're Richie Rich, the German companies have not always put out a stellar product either. It's just the same old "how cheap can I make ut before someone notices?" Philosophy. Then we noticed.

Re:I was always skeptical... (1)

alex67500 (1609333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034854)

After living in a household that owned Chevys for decades, and seeing how poor workmanship was an almost guaranteed feature in all those vehicles, the Chevy left a bad mark on my mind.

Well... maybe you should have changed households!

Re:I was always skeptical... (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034890)

Even simple stuff like seats were poorly done. The cars over heated in the summer...

Oh really? It's called the sun. I think it affects all car seats.

Re:I was always skeptical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035014)

It's curious, I know, but that little "." in the middle denotes a completed thought. Unless you happen to also think that the OP's seats were powered and were losing said power when it was "most needed"

And if you think that, you and I have very different understandings of the implications for the word "most." Which, I suppose, would make sense given that we already have very different understandings of punctuation.

Re:I was always skeptical... (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035080)

No idea what you're trying to spit out so I'm just going to ignore it.

Looks like bash-the-American-car-companies time! (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035104)

I was always skeptical of the Chevy Volt, not because of its technology per se, but because of the "executor". In this case, engineers at Chevy.

Have you actually met an engineer at GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Where does your bias against them come from?

After living in a household that owned Chevys for decades, and seeing how poor workmanship was an almost guaranteed feature in all those vehicles, the Chevy left a bad mark on my mind.

You need to separate worksmanship from parts' sourcing. When the overall vehicle quality was suffering from the big three, they were also doing a lot of lowest-bidder dealing for parts; making almost nothing themselves. The workers can make sure that the parts are assembled correctly, but if the parts are crap because some bean counter in an office found they could save $.43 per car by sourcing a critical bolt through a fly-by-night machine shop run in a former communist state, you can't blame the worker when said crappy bolt fails. The worker did his job, someone else fucked it up and got away with it.

Even simple stuff like seats were poorly done

Even the seats had parts coming from all over the planet. Tracks, motors, upholstery, etc, all coming from different sources. Regardless of what you want to believe, the workers had no say in this matter and had to assemble what was in front of them regardless of how crappy the parts were.

The cars over heated in the summer

So you are now blaming GM for solar radiation? I've stepped into Hondas in the summer that were plenty warm as well. Or are you talking about the engine overheating, as a result of the crappy water pumps, crappy gaskets, crappy hoses, and crappy radiators - all of which came from different companies?

and many of them would just lose power when you needed it most

That is a sweeping generalization. If you can't support it, there is no point in responding to it. If I responded by telling you Japanese cars are boring, I would expect a similar response.

Needless to say, I do not think I will ever own one even if given to me as a gift.

You are free to hate on any company you wish. You would do yourself a favor to actually have facts behind your hatred though.

Re:Looks like bash-the-American-car-companies time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035250)

So we will stop buying american junk till they fire the bean counters, no matter how you swing it, its still said companies fault(they choose their suppliers)!

Re:Looks like bash-the-American-car-companies time (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035350)

First off, You sound like you own stock in Chevy and the like. I hope you do not: Let me elucidate:

Have you actually met an engineer at GM, Ford, or Chrysler? Where does your bias against them come from?

I have not met an engineer at Chevy. What I have met are mechanics that have to deal with the 'crap' Chevy has produced over the years. Trust me, it's ugly. Not a single one painted a good picture of Chevey vehicles, with almost all of them reporting something to the effect that it is like "those vehicles have an expiry date (read mileage), at which point, they all are as good as junk." No other major car manufacturer has the same problems especially with leaking coolant and intake manifold gaskets.

You need to separate workmanship from parts' sourcing.

I do separate those two, and guess what, I do not care. What matters to me as a consumer is what product I get at the end. If other car manufacturers can deliver 'quality' cars, I expect the same if not better from an all American company like GM. Is it too much to expect?

Even the seats had parts coming from all over the planet. Tracks, motors, upholstery, etc, all coming from different sources. Regardless of what you want to believe, the workers had no say in this matter and had to assemble what was in front of them regardless of how crappy the parts were.

See above. All a customer cares about is the experience. Source your parts from the moon or wherever you wish, but deliver a good reliable product. If mistakes happen, and they do, after all we're human, own up to them, like one major foreign company did a few years ago. What's wrong with that?

So you are now blaming GM for solar radiation? I've stepped into Hondas in the summer that were plenty warm as well. Or are you talking about the engine overheating, as a result of the crappy water pumps, crappy gaskets, crappy hoses, and crappy radiators - all of which came from different companies?

Yes, I am talking about the engine. These engines, especially from the Impala line, overheated like hell during summer. Other cars never overheated, but they were being driven on the same roads. Explain that.

That is a sweeping generalization. If you can't support it, there is no point in responding to it. If I responded by telling you Japanese cars are boring, I would expect a similar response.

OK...I agree. I over generalized. Sorry!

You are free to hate on any company you wish. You would do yourself a favor to actually have facts behind your hatred though.

You want the facts? Head here [chevroletproblems.com] :

Re:I was always skeptical... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035164)

Hah! I shall strike at your anecdote with another!

I have a 1999 GMC K5 pickup - 12 years old. Runs fine, body is pretty good (considering I live in a rust prone environment). Various bits and pieces have broken over the years but the engine and body are basically sound. Seats, etc are also in pretty good shape.

Of course, children, extended family and dogs are relegated to the bed of the pickup but at least Americans can make a 3/4 ton truck better than anyone else.

When the Zombie apocalypse comes, I will be running around in my tank of a truck squishing the damn things left and right while everyone else is ripped out of their flimsy little enviro cars by the mutants. At least until I run out of gas.

Re:I was always skeptical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035282)

I hate to have to do this, but you made two glaring mistakes. First, if it's a 1999, it isn't a K5. They stopped using that moniker years ago. Second, if it is a 1500 (the equivalent of a K5) it isn't a 3/4 ton, but a 1/2 ton.

All that said, my parents also have 1999 Chevy 1/2 ton truck. It has had some repairs done but is basically the same os your experience. It was purchased to replace a 1985 3/4 ton that my dad also bought new. As far as I know, the '85 is still being driven.

totally understating the risks (2)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034746)

If the piercing is small, that reaction can take days or weeks to occur."

Even a small piercing into the skin of a LiON battery pack is more than enough to short and cause an immediate fire. The exciting part of lithium battery fires is that the oxygen is in the cell and dousing it with water only intensifies the reaction!

So, if you find yourself unable to release the seatbelt after an accident you might as well commit suicide before the flames get ya. That would be my advice to Volt owners.

nonsense (1)

mutherhacker (638199) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034754)

Lol? We all know that gasoline cars catch fire at the slightest! Happens on movies all the time!

beause fire (1)

xmorg (718633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034764)

Does wonders for greenhouse gases

redesign needed - http://lkcl.net/ev (0)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034786)

why am i not surprised! it's funny (not really) but this accident vindicates what i've been talking about. you _can't_ put a material that spontaneously catches fire when exposed to air and water (lithium) into a car! so you have to use "safe" non-explosive materials such as gasoline or diesel (no, you cannot set light to gasoline even with a naked flame, you have to vapourise it, mix it with air and hit it with a spark), and lead-acid for the batteries. that means that you have to go back to the drawing board, use a smaller battery pack, use less energy and so on. it's the driving force behind the design i'm working on - details here: http://lkcl.net/ev [lkcl.net]

Re:redesign needed - http://lkcl.net/ev (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034902)

I think you mean diesel will not light (easily) with a naked flame. Gasoline/Petrol will. It will even light at a distance from the flame, because flamable vapours constantly evaporate from it.

If you don't believe me, take a large bottle of gasoline and pour it over a flame. It will explode before it even hits the flame. Make to have someone watching at a safe distance, so they can learn from your death.

Re:redesign needed - http://lkcl.net/ev (1)

grqb (410789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034984)

you _can't_ put a material that spontaneously catches fire when exposed to air and water (lithium) into a car!

You realize that you're talking about lithium-metal right? All mainstream electric vehicles are using lithium-ion which is a different technology. A lithium-ion battery _will_not_ catch fire when exposed to air and water. Lithium-ion batteries will catch fire when heated to above around 120C which can happen by an internal short circuit, or if punctured by a piece of metal.

Stop spreading FUD. Lithium-ion batteries are much safer than lithium-metal batteries, which is why lithium-ion batteries are being used despite their lower energy density.

Re:redesign needed - http://lkcl.net/ev (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035188)

Everyone seems to have forgotten the Volkswagen bug (the original ones). The magnesium transfer case burned wonderfully. Damned hard to put out.

Re:redesign needed - http://lkcl.net/ev (4, Funny)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035058)

My cousin's ex-eyebrows are interested in your views on the safety of gasoline and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Rgds

Damon

Avoid responding to lkcl (517947) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38035382)

Before people respond to lkcl (517947), let me point out that, as a fact, he is somewhat unstable (and I am not saying "he is an epic troll" because he actually believes everything he writes).

Observe how he absolutely hates proper capitalisation. In my 18 years of working with free software types, I find that the ones that never use uppercase letters are also the ones that are quick to anger. Naturally, there are hotheads that take the time to write properly. So while emotional immaturity can present as any number of symptoms, aversion to the shift key is one of them, and that symptom is strongly indicative of the diagnosis.

Another symptom is uncovered in his writings. In this analysis, we need to address a small subset of his posts to various mailing lists, because most of his posts are ordinary (like many other free software people's writings). One of his recent postings in particular[1] is very concerning. It weaves a complicated conspiracy story, referring to the supposed state of Linux on ARM, alleging GPL violations so severe that vendors "lost the right to use linux[sic] kernel source code," that China was trying to subvert freedom, that the United Kingdom is censoring the Internet, that the United States "continues to take illegal control of DNS zones," that global warming is going to end the world, and he tops it off by saying the unfortunate suicide of a Debian maintainer is proof for some of this (and he had the courage to post this to a Debian list!)

This is typical of some of lkcl's posts. And he is very quick to anger when he is challenged on them.

I am not saying lkcl is bad, per se. He clearly isn't a troll. He does, however, have many signs of serious mental illness. He doesn't need contempt, instead he needs some compassion and perhaps a polite urging to seek significant help. In the meantime arguing with him will just frustrate everyone and perhaps make lkcl worse off.

(Posting Anonymous Coward because I want to be insulated from lkcl's backlash).

[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-arm/2011/08/msg00155.html [debian.org]

They left it oustide for 3 WEEKS! (1)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034864)

It's been a while since college, but I remember the Lithium in water experiment very well.

Next NHTSA will discover that 20 gallons of gasoline sitting under the back seat is also a fire hazard.

-ted

Re:They left it oustide for 3 WEEKS! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034942)

This is not an unusual scenario for a crashed vehicle. If the driver is injured in the crash beyond ability to communicate and no one else is available to speak on the disposition of the vehicle, or if the police wish to investigate the condition of the vehicle for some reason (e.g. to help determine fault in the collision) then it will be taken to an impound yard where it will sit out under the open sky, exposed to the elements.

Re:They left it oustide for 3 WEEKS! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035202)

And, according to TFA, you are supposed to call the manufacturer, explain what happened and get some advice. Apparently they didn't do that. Think of it as a Poison Control center for cars.....

Could Have Been Much Worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38034888)

Thank god it wasn't a hydrogen powered fuel cell car. We would have lost a city.

Petrol fires occur all the time. (0)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38034966)

For some perspective, petrol cars and trucks often have fires. Nothing to see here.

Google "Ford cruise control switch fires" for some entertainment.

Steel? (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035008)

If a lithium battery is pierced by steel

Are you saying we are using steel in cars again? I thought with the exception of the drivetrain, they were pretty well all plastic today.

I'd still drive one (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38035098)

I would rather have a battery catch fire than a CNG fuel tank explode. There have been craters left where those vechicle used to be.

Electric vechicles are like SSD's. They cost more, have less range, limited (write) recharge cycles and reliability issues are still being worked through as the technology is new.

Even as I reject and poke fun of the technology in its current state...there is no denying it is the future.

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