Lithium Ion car battery explodes during test, sends GM employee to the hospital and gives black eye to electric car industry

This one is straight out of the “what could go wrong?” chapter in the automotive world. An electric-car battery undergoing tests at a Warren, Mich., research center exploded, sending an employee to the hospital. The accident happened around 9AM on Wednesday morning at the Warren Michigan General Motors testing plant when the battery was being subjected to what a GM spokesman described as “Extreme tests.”

The battery is made by A123 Systems, a subsidiary of General Electric. A123 last month said it would recall defective battery packs developed for auto makers that were produced at its Livonia, Mich., plant. A flaw in the manufacturing process led to defective packs that could cause them to fail, the company said then.

This is the latest in a string of black eyes to the electric car industry, an industry that’s expensive and that’s losing steam. A different type of lithium-ion battery, made by South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd., was at the center of a fire safety investigation into GM’s Volt last year. It’s important to note that humans know how to make internal combustion engines, we’ve grown to be quite good at it. Recent motors are clean, staggeringly elegant and durable, and they need less and less fossil fuel to run.

There will come a time when electric cars will become practical, but I don’t think we’re there yet, not even close.


Science and Tech

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