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Should GM Collaborate With Tesla to Prevent Future Battery-Related Fires in EVs?

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Chevy Volt's Lithium-Ion Battery, Better Protected Than the Tesla Model S' Battery?
Chevy Volt’s Lithium-Ion Battery, Better Protected Than the Tesla Model S’ Battery?

We’ve already tried to put the recent Tesla Model S fires into perspective, but is there something that another electric vehicle maker can add to the discussion?

Tesla Model S really is in a league of its own, but recent lithium-ion battery fires have begun to hurt the company’s reputation. Looking at it one way, three Tesla Model S fires doesn’t seem like a huge deal in the large scheme of things. After all, three fires in 25,000 is still 1/10th the fire risk of a conventional vehicle and, don’t forget, none of these were spontaneous combustion events.

Still, what about another electric vehicle manufacturer and their lithium-ion battery fire problems, well, their lack of problems, to be precise? The Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, did raise some concerns after the lithium-ion battery pack caught fire after crash testing, a week after. General Motors made some structural adjustments to the battery pack after that, and it does one well to note that, with nearly 60,000 Chevy Volt on the road, not a single one has caught fire, either spontaneously or due to accident. If you run the numbers, zero fires in 60,000 vehicles is, well, 0% risk of fire, compared to a 1.2% risk in the Tesla Model S. Could General Motors have something to share with Tesla Motors that will help with its fire problem, or will Tesla Motors have to come up with its own solution?

This makes us wonder, what does General Motors have that Tesla Motors doesn’t? Tesla Model S went through the same crash testing that the Chevy Volt went through, with no fire concerns and a Five-Star NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. I think the secret to the Chevy Volt’s battery is that it is hidden further inside the vehicle. Tesla Model S‘ lithium-ion battery pack isn’t exactly waving in the wind, but it is much more exposed. Is the armor plating enough, or will Tesla Motors have to add more armor and weight, sacrificing its industry-leading range?

Image ©  Argonne National Laboratory Foter.com CC BY-NC-SA

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