WASHINGTON — A Chevrolet Volt that caught fire weeks after its lithium-ion battery was damaged in a crash test has regulators taking a harder look at the safety of electric car batteries, federal officials said Friday.
Based on testing so far, however, regulators believe the batteries don't pose a greater fire risk than gas-powered engines, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official told the Associated Press.
The car that caught fire was tested May 12 by an agency contractor at a Wisconsin facility using a new side-impact test intended to replicate crashing into a pole or a tree, the official said. Three weeks later, while the car was parked at the test facility, it caught fire. A NHTSA investigation concluded the crash test damaged the battery, which later led to the fire.
Lithium-ion batteries, which are used in many consumer electronics, can catch fire when damaged. A GM spokesman said the test did not follow procedures developed by GM for handling the Volt after a crash.