By on November 29, 2011

With NHTSA opening a formal defect investigation into the Chevy Volt, GM is moving to defend its rolling lightning rod (no pun intended) and allay consumer fears about its safety. Yesterday I briefly appeared on Fox Business’s Your World With Neil Cavuto show to talk about what the intro to my segment referred to as “the hybrid from hell” and the “killer in your garage.” I tried to explain that the danger to consumers was basically nil, and that the real concern is for rescue, towing and salvage workers. And I would have explained why NHTSA’s tests still leave some serious questions open, but my “fair and balanced” approach meant that my segment ended up being extremely short. So let’s take the opportunity now to look past the hysteria and pinpoint the real issues with NHTSA’s investigation into the Volt.

A recent GM press release on the issue was accompanied by a conference call to reporters [transcript in .doc format here], in which GM’s top product executives, North American President Mark Reuss and Product Development Boss Mary Barra, gave GM’s perspective on the flap. But in a key passage, Barra confirmed that the most reasonable criticism of GM is essentially legitimate, as she confirmed that GM had not fully developed post-crash safety procedures before putting the Volt on the market.

Three weeks after the [initial NHTSA side-pole] test, the Volt caught fire.  This vehicle crash test was conducted before GM had finalized its battery depowering procedure.  We have learned that significant electrical charge, or energy, was left in the battery after the test.  When electrical energy is left in a battery after a severe crash it can be similar to leaving gasoline in a leaking fuel tank after severe damage.  It’s important to drain the energy from the battery after a crash that compromises the battery’s integrity – or you risk potential fire.

That’s why we have developed a process to depower the Volt’s battery after a severe crash.  We have been using the protocol since July of this year and we have now shared this process with the NHTSA and are working to extend this process and the needed equipment to those who handle or store vehicles after a severe crash.

Unable to deny that it should have had post-crash protocols in place before launching its first lithium-ion battery-powered car, GM seems to be trying to broaden the issue to extend beyond the Volt. Said Barra

But I also have to put this into the proper perspective:  Battery safety isn’t just a Volt issue. This is an issue we’re already working within the industry.  In fact, we are currently leading a joint electric vehicle activity with the Society of Automotive Engineers and other automotive companies to address new issues such as a process and protocol for depowering batteries.

The problem is, this does appear to be a Volt issue. Between the Nissan Leafs already on the road and the Prius Plugins that Toyota has been testing for years now, there are no documented thermal events that I’m aware of. Furthermore, the loss of battery integrity that the Volt experiences in side impacts seems to be caused by the lack of a steel battery case, which Nissan fits to its Leafs. Though it’s not clear what post-crash procedures Nissan has proliferated, it seems that its decision to protect its batteries with steel casings maintains battery integrity in government crash testing, eliminating the risks seen in the Volt.

Meanwhile, there is one question that nags at me. In the wake of the June fire at a NHTSA facility, GM shared its post-crash safety protocols. But the latest Volt fire, which happened a week after NHTSA, DOE, DOD and GM engineers test-ruptured a Volt battery, “sparked a fire of a wooden structure” at the DOD’s Hampton Roads facility. Here’s what’s not clear: whether that battery pack was subjected to GM’s post-crash protocols. If it was, this fire proves that GM doesn’t have a handle on this problem, and that its safety procedures are insufficient. If the post-crash protocols were not followed, NHTSA, DOE and DOD were incredibly stupid to store a battery pack they knew might catch fire in a wooden building. Furthermore, GM’s communications team has yet to clarify whether this latest fire was caused because safety procedures were not followed intentionally. One way or another, this needs to be clarified, even if it makes the government testers look foolish.

Based on GM’s reaction, deploying top executives, offering loaner cars, and vigorously defending the Volt in the press, it’s clear that The General takes this situation incredibly seriously… which is why I’m a little shocked that it hasn’t cleared up the circumstances of the most recent fire. After all, the Volt is easily the most controversial car in America, and based on my experience on Cavuto yesterday, it’s clear that many hope to use this investigation as the final nail in its coffin. But there is still much we don’t know about these thermal events, and what we do know indicates that they are not an immediate danger to owners and drivers.

So where is the danger? Clearly to the afore-mentioned rescue, salvage and towing workers… but also to the Volt’s sales. The Volt already has marketing challenges based on its price and association with the bailout. Even the hint of a fire risk is going to add the Volt’s sales headwind, making it even tougher to meet its goal of selling 45,000 units in the US next year. Meanwhile, the White House’s goal of putting 120k Volts on the road next year is pushed even further out of reach.

In short, this does not appear to be the death blow that Volt-bashers were hoping for, and GM appears to be handling the situation as well as can be expected. But this incident does highlight the downsides to pioneering new technologies, and shows how just one overlooked detail can create huge PR issues.

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54 Comments on “Volt And Consequences: GM Responds To NHTSA Volt Investigation...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    This is going to sound like a “Piston Slap” subject, but I hope GM gets this thing straightened out, as I am beginning to look for an Impala replacement, something I can comfortably and safely make my 500-miles-a-week commute in without filling the gas tank, so between 500-600 miles between fill ups is what I’m up against, as no one is going to hire an almost 61-year-old dude except Wally World, and I can’t afford to work there!

    I REALLY like the Volt, too, but am not a GM apologist – too realistic and pragmatic for that – but I still gravitate toward bright window reveal!

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Do you only care about how *often* you fill up, or also how *much*?

      If you get a Ram with a Cummins, and put a 100-gallon auxiliary tank in the bed, you might be able to fill up every 3 weeks :)

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      With those kind of miles you are a great candidate for a diesel; your application is where diesels really shine.

      The VW Passat, Jetta, or upcoming Chevy Cruze would all be good prospects.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      If you are commuting 500 miles a week, and you had a Volt, then you are still probably using 10 gallons a week, same as if you opted for a 50mpg conventional car.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        Say 500 miles/week is 80 miles/weekday, 100 miles/weekend.

        EPA says 35 mile battery range, 35 mile city / 40 highway. If he gets six full charge cycles during the week (210 miles, 70 kwh = $8) he should cover around 290 miles on gas (7-8 gallons = $22-28). Uses about as much gas as a 60-70 mpg closed-loop vehicle, total fuel costs are about the same as a 50 mpg closed-loop vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Thanks to all of you! I’m only in the thinking stage at this point, but who knows if the right vehicle comes my way…

  • avatar
    NN

    So…American engineers (well, mostly American) achieve what most everyone admits is a technical marvel of an automobile, regardless of it’s politics, a car that shows that it is possible to change our oil consumption, a goal that every American no matter our politics should embrace. It should be noted that it is increasingly rare that American automotive engineers are doing anything cutting edge. Supposedly pro-business right-wingers who want Americans to build such things competitively and harbor such intelligence and capabilities want it destroyed because it is a symbol of bailout/Obama/democrats, even though the car was in development well before the bailouts, so they cut your honest, objective, truthful opinion short to suit their needs, despite the damage it can ultimately cause.

    There are many arguments on this car and most are tired…any new technology costs more initially and doesn’t turn an immediate profit. The car exists today, and because it does, it’s success can only be beneficial. A lot of people hated FDR, also, but does that mean they would support blowing up the Hoover Dam after it was built?

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      GM engineers have engineered another EPIC FAILURE. GM strikes again!

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      “most everyone admits is a technical marvel of an automobile” NO… most everyone I’ve spoken to consider the Volt a “deeply flawed compromise of an originally promising concept.”

      The PRIUS on the other hand, now THAT is a technical marvel of an automobile, and a game-changer in transportation science. Which they keep improving. While lowering the cost.

      GM bet the company on the volt. They would have failed if not for the Obama (and Bush) administration stepping in. As a result, the FAILED policies of the old GM have been continued.

      There is a reason why inept companies should be allowed to fail, which has been bandied about at this site for several years, so I won’t go into it now, except to ask the question, “Why would we want to invest BILLIONS to salvage ideas should have led to the demise of the organization which created them?”

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        They bet the company? Lets assume the Volt goes away today GM still makes billions in profit worldwide with bright prospects in key growth markets. Doesn`t matter what side of the bailout issue anyone is on, those are the facts.

        “NO… most everyone I’ve spoken to consider the Volt a “deeply flawed compromise of an originally promising concept.”” – I don`t know your circle of friends/colleagues so this comment as it stands means little.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        GM bet the company on the volt.

        I have no idea where you got that idea, but just the numbers alone would tell that isn’t at all true.

        Given the typical R&D costs of vehicle development, GM spent far more money on Rick Wagoner’s failed Fiat put than it did on the Volt. And Fiat wasn’t the only mistake; for example, it would be interesting to know how much was lost on Saab, inclusive of the acquisition and operating costs that were never recovered. (I would bet that GM never turned a profit from it.)

        I don’t expect the Volt to be successful, but the hysteria is getting to be a bit much. In the scheme of things, the Volt has been a drop in the bucket. If the new GM is smarter than was the old one, then the Volt should also produce some technology gains that help with the development of other cars, some of which could actually make them money (or so I would hope.)

      • 0 avatar
        TurboDeezl

        Is that why Toyota was blown away by GM in sales and fading fast? Just wondering…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    So GM releases a car and THEN fixes the issues?

    Thats nothing new, they’ve been doing this since the Corvair and abused it with the Citation (which strangely looks like the Volt).

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      Well, let’s see…

      GM admits to not having crash protocols in place, have moved quickly to address the issue, and are willing to supply every Volt owner with a loaner car until GM and NHTSA get to the bottom of the problem.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/gm-forms-engineering-team-to-work-with-nhtsa-on-volt-after-fires.html

      How does this sound like old GM? I’m no GM apologist, nor am I much of a fanboy of GM, but come on, are you really attempting to compare GM circa 1965 with the current GM?

      I’m guessing it’s not long until some commentor blames the UAW or Obama for this.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    There is no excuse for a car to catch fire after a crash, EV or gasoline. If we recall, Ford had a massive problem with the Pinto catching fire after a crash. It was unacceptable then and it is unacceptable now.

    Modern gasoline cars are intrinsically designed so that in case of a crash that there is no thermal event that can cause a fire; which means designing fuel lines, gas tanks, and wiring so a fire cannot happen. When it does, its a big deal. There is no reason why we should expect the same from EVs.

    The fact is that Volt’s catching on fire is not an isolated incident. The first Volt to catch fire car tested on the NHTSA May 12th crash, when they retested 3 Volts between November 16-18th, 2 of the 3 cars had a dangerous thermal event.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/11/26/142789554/chevy-volt-battery-fires-prompt-u-s-probe

    The problem here is that the Volt doesn’t seem to have a simple fail safe system. In case of a malfunction of the cooling system, there should have an automatic self-discharge of the remaining energy stored in the battery. Smart Lithium-ion batteries in laptops already are able to do this.

    The second issue is that the Volt’s battery uses an active cooling system that when fails was the cause of the NHTSA fire. A crash is one event where cooling system malfunctions, but a more common wear-and-tear failure would be much worse. It would be a concern if the batteries cooling system failed and a fire occurred without a crash.

    The most damning issue is that Nissan underwent the same NHTSA crash tests and did not catch fire. The Leaf doesn’t rely on coolant to regulate the battery’s temperature, and the battery is also completely encased in steel- the Volt’s is not. If we have safety expectations of how gas tanks perform in a crash, we should have the same level of expectation of how EV batteries perform in a crash.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      “In case of a malfunction of the cooling system, there should have an automatic self-discharge of the remaining energy stored in the battery. Smart Lithium-ion batteries in laptops already are able to do this.”

      I’ve never heard of this. What makes/models do this?

      A fire IS a (very quick) automatic self-discharge of the remaining energy stored in the battery. If the battery cooling system has been damaged then the battery will need to be discharged carefully, likely over several hours. The Volt really only has two ways to discharge the battery: operating a motor under load and powering a resistive heater. Neither of these is ideal immediately following a crash, which is why GM needs a special crash response team.

      The Volt’s battery is encased in steel. A steel unibody frame. Clearly it was inadequate to protect the battery; the Leaf may do a better job here. But the Volt thermal failures and the lack of (reported) Leaf failures is more complex than just encasing the pack in steel. After all, if one steel encasing failed, another may as well.

      To be clear: the failure is almost certainly because one or more cells internally shorted following impact, not because the cooling system was damaged. The cells are packed closely enough that the extreme heat generated by the internal short causes other nearby cells to fail. The cooling system is designed to keep the battery pack in a comfortable operating temperature, not to safely bleed off heat from a cell failure.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        First off, NHTSA reported the cause of the fire to be a “ruptured coolant line” for the battery.

        Secondly, Nissan’s battery isn’t just stored in a steel unibody, the battery, and each cell, is encased in steel. Nissan calls it a triple-layer approach:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9L2fWEjLFM

        This is a standard which we should expect all EV/PHEV batteries to be safe at. For an EV/PHEV we should expect the battery, its accompanied circuits and crucial systems to be protected the way that the fuel system is protected in a gasoline car.

        Either way, the Volt was not able to sustain a NHTSA crash without a thermal event in the majority of cases. Ideally, we should expect cars to exceed NHTSA requirements in safety.

        Also, the May 12th crash has 21 days between the crash and the fire itself. The car should have an automatic system to slowly and safely discharge itself to avoid a thermal event. These safe-guards should be built into the car itself.

        If PHEVs and EVs are going to see any level of large adoption safety measures have to built into the battery itself. Its unrealistic to expect that every tow truck driver out there to slowly manually discharge the battery after every crash. The engineering requirements of such a system are not high.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        You are comparing a Pinto, which caught fire quickly, to a car that catches fire well after the fact and can likely be discharged safely before 3 weeks. Nice job.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @Steven02

        The Pinto reference was to illustrate that gasoline cars catching fire after a crash is just as unacceptable as an EV under the same situation. This of course is a response to GM’s assertion that the Volt catching fire after a crash is no different than a gasoline car catching fire.

        In the 30 some years since the Pinto fires, gasoline vehicles have since developed safety standards to insure things such gas tank placement, to not cause vehicle fires. Which is why fuel system integrity is such a big part of crash test these days. We may be at the same point for EV/PHEVs.

        I’ve referenced NHTSA’s statistic below, but only 0.29% of crashes result in fires in a modern gasoline car. Right now, based on NHTSA tests, 66% of Volt crashes (2 out 3 Volts) have caused a fires. This is an insanely high failure rate.

      • 0 avatar

        Either way, the Volt was not able to sustain a NHTSA crash without a thermal event in the majority of cases.

        That’s simply not true. The Volt has been crash tested hundreds of times, by NHTSA, GM and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In all of those crash tests, there has been one thermal incident, the one in June. That car was tested with a side impact into a pole at 20 mph, the subjected to a rollover test.

        As far as I can tell from the NHTSA documents, the subsequent tests were not done on intact Volts but rather just on the battery packs, trying to duplicate the same conditions (punctured battery case, cut coolant lines, turned upside down).

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The Volts battery case is steel, and the cells are packaged in steel (or aluminumn) modules, and the battery case closely fits in a metal cavity (but open at the front and back) made by the chassis of the car.

        The difference with the Leaf is that the Leaf uses a flatter pack, with more surface area exposed to cooling air.. perhaps the crashed Leafs also had thermal events but the heat did not have a chance to build up to dangerous levels. Perhaps that is the only difference. I think that Volts will have to be fitted with automatic self discharge devices.

        Note that GM engineers boasted that the battery pack used very effective heat insulation.. to maintain the batteries warm in extreme cold climates.. this may have backfired since the active cooling system will not work after a crash or coolant leak.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @ Ronnie Schreiber

        Out of the tests that were conducted by NHTSA mid-November, 2 out of 3 cars caught fire. Following a Volt that caught fire in May. Meaning that these fires are reproducible, hence meaning that there is a fundamental flaw in its design.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        Are you sure the Volt has only been crash tested by the NHTSA 3 times? I am pretty sure it has been more than that. Also, right now, they are directly trying to replicate the problem with battery packs and not the car.

        Also, when you are trying to replicate something, your goal is to make the failure happen to learn more about it. You might take different liberties into making it happen. Testing without the car is one of those liberties.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      “Modern gasoline cars are intrinsically designed so that in case of a crash that there is no thermal event that can cause a fire; which means designing fuel lines, gas tanks, and wiring so a fire cannot happen. When it does, its a big deal. There is no reason why we should expect the same from EVs.”

      Are you sure about that? I witnessed from my front porch about a year ago a drunk driver in a later model car hauling a$$ down my street and straight into the traffic circle.

      When I called the cops they asked me what color the car was. My response was the car is flame color.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        I wrote this below, but federal law requires automobile makers to conform and certify compliance with a minimum safety standard. For car fires, we have Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 301 (FMVSS 301) which requires that vehicles must withstand certain specified impact tests ranging from 20 to 30 miles per hour, without leaking fuel in excess of one ounce per minute following the tests.

        Unlike what Hollywood teaches you, car fires are actually very rare. When they do happen they tend to be from very severe crashes far worst than what NHTSA subjects cars to.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually, there are hundreds of thousands of car fires every year and on average one person a day is killed in a vehicle fire.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @ Ronnie Schreiber

        As cited below, car fires account for 2.9 cases out of 1,000. Which is 0.29% of traffic collisions.

        In 2010, 32,788 people died in traffic accidents. Millions more are injured each year. 1 person a day perishing from a car fire may sound like a large number, it is 365 people out of 32,788 people that have died in car accidents. An unfortunately cruel but negligible number.

        Traffic fatalities is the sixth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The reality is that car fires comprise a very small percentage of a much greater tragedy.

        However, that fact that there are car fires in such a large sample size does not excuse Volt’s very high number of fires in such a small sample size. There is a statistical significance that shouldn’t be ignored by people who call themselves journalists.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        There is a statistical significance that shouldn’t be ignored by people who call themselves journalists.

        You’ve done a great job on this thread of abusing statistics.

        The reality is that NHTSA experienced **one** fire.

        In its effort to determine how that one fire was created, NHTSA attempted to recreate the fire in three subsequent tests. They managed to do so on two occasions. (From NHTSA’s November 25 press release: “In an effort to recreate the May test, NHTSA conducted three tests last week on the Volt’s lithium-ion battery packs that intentionally damaged the battery compartment and ruptured the vehicle’s coolant line.”)

        One fire is one more than zero. That isn’t statistically significant, no matter how much you want to claim that it is.

        Without more data, there is no way to know whether that single event is a statistical outlier or part of a norm. Not enough cars have been sold and not enough crashes have occurred for anyone to make such a claim.

        What is significant is that NHTSA was able to determine the causes of the one fire. That does not necessarily mean that the car is prone to fire, but that does raise a question of whether something needs to be done about it, and if so, what.

        If it’s just an odd fluke that is not likely to be repeated, then it may be worth ignoring. On the other hand, it could point to a design and/or parts flaw that warrants a recall and/ or redesign. That’s why we have a NHTSA to test these things, as they should.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The only reason to “hate” to Volt is purely political. Hate for Obama, the bailout, even the “greenies” as if wanting to save energy is something to hate. You can surely make a case that the cost is too high for the segment, but that is about it. It is a technological success and is supposedly reliable to boot. But will the price scale down to the point where it sells in enough numbers to be a financial success? I’m not so sure the batteries can be made cheaply enough. But I am happy to see that GM is willing to try. This kind of jump in technology often does not prove to be successful. Look at British Airways as a prime example. The Concorde was a technological success but a financial failure. I’d “hate” to see the Volt go down the same road.

    L’avventura: Gasoline powered cars catch on fire; that is nothing new. However, for the number of cars and the number of miles driven, the number of thermal events is pretty damn small. But tiny is not zero. Ford got hammered over the Pinto because the executives made a business decision that it was more cost effective to allow a few burn to death rather than do the right thing and recall the cars. The massive judgement was awarded with the express intent to discourage such disgusting business decisions. I don’t know what the percentage of fires is with the Volt, but I wonder if it is any different than gasoline powered cars….

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      Let’s consider this for a moment, according to NHTSA there are 2.9 fires per 1,000 vehicle crashes. NHTSA has observed 2 out of 3 Chevy Volts to have caught fire after a crash. This is statistically significant.

      http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/regrev/evaluate/807675.html

      One of the major criteria for NHTSA, and IIHS, crash safety is fuel system integrity. Its called Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 301 – Fuel System Integrity (FMVSS 301). Basically, vehicles must withstand certain specified impact tests ranging from 20 to 30 miles per hour, without leaking fuel in excess of one ounce per minute following the tests.

      In the real world, crashes can be much worse than what NHTSA and IIHS test for, but at the bare minimum, has to survive these NHTSA crashes without catching fire.

      If we have a mandated “fuel system integrity” for gasoline cars, its perfectly reasonable to expect EVs to pass a “battery system integrity” safety criteria. And it might mean encasing the battery in steal like the Leaf, or having fail-safe mechanisms to the temperature regulation of the battery system itself. This too is a business decision, but there is a statistical correlation between Volt crashes and fires that shouldn’t be ignored.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        When did the fires in those 2.9 per 1000 crashes start? What is the soonest after a Chevy Volt test crash that a fire started?

        I am not trying to downplay the fires, just being realistic about it. If the fires occur well after the fact, say when other vehicles would have had fuel removed from the car, who cares about a fire 3 weeks later. You have to hold both types of vehicles to the same standard.

        Last I knew, there wasn’t a vehicle that could safely and automatically remove its own fuel from the vehicle after a crash.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        @ Steven02

        For the Volt, if you read NHTSA’s report, out of the three cars that have caught fire, it ranges from immediately to 21 days. For the crash test on May 12th, it took 21 days for the Volt to catch fire, the NHTSA crash test conducted on November 17th, the car caught fire the next day, and November 18th test was near immediately with smokes and sparks being emitted.

        As for the 2.9 out of a 1,000 figure NHTSA provides, its a massive data set from all police-reported traffic crashes in the United States. Most of those fires are probably a result of crashes that far exceed what NHTSA tests at.

        Let’s be cognizant that the Volt fires occurred during NHTSA crash test, which is the bare minimum of what cars are expected to go through to be considered safe.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        @L’avventura

        If you read the report, it wasn’t cars that were tested, but battery packs. The fire that happened nearly immediately was actually hours after the impact. They rotated the battery to 180 degrees, then it started sparking. So here is the question. Is testing the battery pack alone valid? After 1 day, I would assume someone would have discharged the battery, but I could be wrong about that. The one that happened hours after impact… it is interesting. But, I still digress, is it a valid test? How much force was applied to the battery in this test? Would that make since in the real world when it is in a car. Does the way it was rotated make since? Cars are not flat and do not rotate evenly.

        I think if you beat on a battery long enough, you are going to get it to spark. Good thing we ride around in cars, and not batteries.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    You hit it in your first paragraph, Ed: be it because of their pre/misconceptions about the Volt thus far, their inherent dislike/distrust of GM, or merely concern for their safety than that of their familys, “look[ing] past the hysteria” simply isn’t an option for many. I’ve crafted this crude formula; note it can apply to any car.

    Car + Sudden Fires = Hysteria.
    Hysteria – Extenuating Circumstances = Hysteria.
    Hysteria + Political Baggage = Major ‘Poop’storm.

    You hit it in your first paragraph, Ed: be it because of their pre/misconceptions about the Volt thus far, their inherent dislike/distrust of GM, or merely concern for their safety than that of their familys, “look[ing] past the hysteria” simply isn’t an option for many. I’ve crafted this crude formula; note it can apply to any car.

    Car + Sudden Fires = Hysteria.
    Hysteria – Extenuating Circumstances = Hysteria.
    Hysteria + Political Baggage = Major ‘Poop’storm.

    I don’t watch the Nightly News shows, but I’m curious: have any of the non-cable networks (ABC/CBS/NBC) reported on this yet?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      In spite of this unanticipated fire hazard I still believe that there is a place for the Volt, as there was a place for the Pinto. I won’t be buying a Volt, but there will always be rich people who will. People bought Pintos until they were all sold out.

      At one time, one of my brothers owned THREE Pintos of different model years because they worked so well for him and his family. Sure, there was always the fear of getting rear-ended in Southern California and going up in flames, but all’s well that ended well. And it all ended well.

      The point as I see it here is that certain additional precautions have to be employed when buying and driving a Volt. Precautions that need not be taken when driving an ICE-powered vehicle.

      But if the Volt can self-ignite after a collision, it is also equally probable that a Volt can self-ignite and immolate itself and its immediate surroundings because of an internal battery fault or short. I’ve had lowly 12V automotive batteries overheat and melt down all by themselves because of internal shorts. The Volt’s battery is infinitely bigger and stores a lot more energy.

      As an item of interest based on Ed’s short appearance on Cavuto, if Ed thought he would be given adequate time on Fox or any of the networks to expound or develop on his ideas or answer their questions, he is sadly mistaken.

      Cavuto, Willis, O’Reilly, Hannity and Van Susteren are the most notorious for cutting off their guests in the middle of an answer or a sentence.

      Why even have guests if they aren’t allowed to finish their train of thought? I don’t watch them. The best network for interviews is Bloomberg. At Bloomberg they have manners!

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        “Why even have guests if they aren’t allowed to finish their train of thought? I don’t watch them. The best network for interviews is Bloomberg. At Bloomberg they have manners!”

        You are discussing a network whose viewers don’t trade in concepts such as “impartiality” or “nuance”. Offering multiple opinions on a subject just confuses them. So the hosts give the viewers when they think they want.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        The Volt’s battery is infinitely bigger and stores a lot more energy.

        The Volt’s battery is absolutely not infinitely bigger.

        If it was the electric range would be a lot more than 40 miles, it wouldn’t ever have to be plugged in, and would probably win GM a Nobel Prize for physics as well as about 95% of the passenger car market.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        @highdesertcat

        Just because a fire started after an accident doesn’t mean that it will go up in flames by itself. You wouldn’t say the same thing about most cars. Why would it be different for the Volt. Using 12V batteries that melt as a reference is terrible too, because then you should be saying the same thing about all EV’s and Hybrids.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I tried to explain that the danger to consumers was basically nil, and that the real concern is for rescue, towing and salvage workers. And I would have explained why NHTSA’s tests still leave some serious questions open, but my “fair and balanced” approach meant that my segment ended up being extremely short.

    Congratulations. Now you know firsthand why some of us point out that Fox “News” is a joke.

    They didn’t want to interview you or to learn more about the subject matter, they just wanted to put words in your mouth and to spin their story. Since you didn’t prove to be a useful stooge, they disposed of you as quickly as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      PCH, you’re halfway there. All network news is a joke. I don’t care what side of the political spectrum your alliances lay. You’re being told what they want you to hear.

      As for the Volt – I have no sympathies. It’s only fair that the hate USGOV and NHTSA heaped on Toyota came blowing back on GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        All network news is a joke.

        Network news tends to be superficial. But no network tries to push an agenda to the shameless degree that Fox does.

        This is no secret among journalists. Rupert Murdoch helped to pioneer this modern brand of agenda-oriented coverage, which combines sensationalism with selective soundbites.

        What’s amusing about it is that the American audience for it wants to believe that it’s “fair and balanced”, when it is obviously anything but. Cutting off an interview subject who doesn’t march in lockstep with the network agenda is fairly blatant stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Civarlo

      Sounds like GM has some serious damage control on their hands. Too bad they have to engage in it so frequently. They had better step up fast.

      As for the perception of being cut short on-air…I worked in TV news for over five years. You were likely up against a “hard break”. Nobody of -any- political stripe can be allowed to filibuster when such a break looms.

      Pch101, you mention that “no network tries to push an agenda to the shameless degree that Fox does”. Methinks you’ve never seen the prime-time airings on MSDNC….pardon, MSNBC here in the states. Or, does that just not matter to you?

      • 0 avatar
        pdieten

        It’s not okay for Fox to do this, and it’s not okay for MSNBC to do it either. If you only get your news from one media ownership group, you are poorly informed.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        MSNBC here in the states. Or, does that just not matter to you?

        The Fox cronies just don’t get it.

        I don’t care that Fox is biased. But I find it hilarious that they either insist that it isn’t (“Fair and balanced!”) or that they wish to claim that everyone else is equally biased, even though they aren’t.

        MSNBC advertises itself as being slanted. It modeled itself as a niche channel that tries to find the left-wing equivalent of the right-wing Fox audience. It’s honest about what it does.

        Fox lies about its mission. It pretends to be “fair and balanced”, even though anyone with half a brain can see that it isn’t.

        Mr. Niedermeyer’s interview illustrates a common example of how Fox is unfair and imbalanced. It doesn’t “interview” subjects, it deliberately attempts to get its interview subjects to tow the party line. If the interview subjects don’t tow the line, then they get cut off. That isn’t journalism.

    • 0 avatar
      TurboDeezl

      Yes. Where is Keith Olberman when we need him? Off the air? LOL

      • 0 avatar
        FleetofWheel

        People like Pch101 are forever confused by the fact that Fox News channel has opinion shows that are clearly presented as such.

        Just as newspapers have news, editorial and opinion pages.
        All these pages come in one bundle and are sequentially numbered.

        The talent on NBC and MS-NBC cross pollinate enough that Pch101 might start seeing NBC as the biased mother ship from which the MSNBC pod launches.

  • avatar
    Robert Fahey

    That whirring sound in the background is the collective hum of lawyer antennae becoming erect.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Only problem I have is that it’s Fox news and instead of having rational discussions, they too frequently just ramp up hysteria rather than calm rational thought.

    Fox News sadly is no better than a tabloid in many respects and too frequently is doing a disservice to everyone.

    While I understand they have a conservative bias as opposed to a liberal one seen on many other sources, that’s no excuse for creating an atmosphere of hysteria over subjects.

    Fox gets some things right, but too often the bad they do I think outweighs any good they do.

    • 0 avatar
      TurboDeezl

      Yes. Fox News derangement syndrome alive and well here…

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        It is quite informative to watch election coverage on the cable news stations. During the Gore-Bush election, when a state went to George Bush, MSNBC had an announcer state “we just lost another one”…really, are you up for election? On the other end of the spectrum, when a state went red, the Fox news staff roared with applause like spectators at a football game. Nicely fair and balanced,..CNN seemed to be the most impartial…

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Seems like old times doesn’t it? GM cuts loose a new product and allows the marketplace to help finish with development.

    I remember when firefighters and rescue workers were concerned about the large cables and battery packs in the Prius. The concerns they had involved using those giant cutters to open up wrecked cars to extract passengers. It was thought at the time that cutting through the cables was dangerous.

    So why is this post-wreck self-ingniting disorder new? Didn’t somebody do their homework?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Are you serious? That is like saying no one puts out a product and doesn’t fix problems later. Look at the Leaf and the problems they had with going into turtle mode when they shouldn’t.

      Also, GM has held trainings with firefighters on where to cut on the Volt like Toyota did with the Prius.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Toyota/NHTSA get their revenge on GM?

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ajWwH9o__irY

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/nhtsas-revolving-door-most-automakers-employ-former-staff-members/

  • avatar
    Herm

    How long before the first Volt gets crushed live on TV?.. fully charged of course, it should be spectacular.


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