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Electric-vehicle battery safety examined by US auto regulators

The US auto-safety regulator said it will hold a forum on lithium-ion batteries in electric cars next month, almost a year after a General Motors Co. Chevrolet Volt caught fire following crash-testing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a meeting May 18 in Washington to convene government officials and auto and battery-industry representatives to talk about “safety considerations” for cars powered by lithium-ion batteries. The meeting was announced in a posting on the Federal Register’s website.

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A Volt caught fire in June, three weeks after a crash test at a NHTSA facility in Wisconsin. Disclosure of the fire, which NHTSA and GM initially didn’t make public, prompted the Detroit-based automaker to offer to take back Volts leased by customers and to chief executive Dan Akerson testifying before a US House committee in January.

A123 Systems Inc., which based in Waltham, said last month it was recalling electric batteries it made for Fisker Automotive Inc. and other automakers after a $107,000 Fisker Karma shut down because of a battery defect during testing by Consumer Reports magazine.

President Obama has made development of electric vehicles a priority, funding a $7,500 tax credit for buyers of plug-in cars and providing billions of dollars in grants and loans to companies for vehicle and battery development through the Energy Department.

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