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Chevy Volt Battery Investigated by US for Fires

Friday, 25 Nov 2011 | 8:38 PM ET

The Federal Government has opened an investigation into whether there is a defect that causes fires in the batteries of the Chevy Volt.

The launch of the investigation comes a week after The

In this handout image provided by General Motors, The first pre-production Chevrolet Volt is on the assembly line at the Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing plant in Detroit, Michigan.
John F. Martin, General Motors
In this handout image provided by General Motors, The first pre-production Chevrolet Volt is on the assembly line at the Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing plant in Detroit, Michigan.

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration conducted two more crash tests that ultimately lead to one battery catching on fire and the other emitting sparks and smoke.

GM says it supports the federal Volt investigation, but believes the extended range electric car is safe.

The auto maker says, "The Volt is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash." The latest round of crash tests were conducted to look at how Chevy Volt batteries handled a specific type of accident.

In these tests, NHTSA says, "the Volt’s battery was impacted and rotated to simulate a real-world, side-impact collision into a narrow object such as a tree or a pole followed by a rollover."

In May, a Chevy Volt that had gone through a crash test caught on fire three weeks after the controlled accident.

While the NHTSA has made it clear that it is too soon to say if the Volt has a defect, the investigation raises questions about a car already struggling to live up to expectations.

GM has sold just over 5,000 Volts this year, well short of it's goal of selling 10,000.

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___________________________ Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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