By on December 8, 2011

 

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seeking:

“All records, documents, internal and external documentations between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and General Motors between June 1, 2009 and December 1, 2011. These requested records shall include communication regarding the Chevrolet Volt, also known as the Chevy Volt.”

That’s a lot of paper if the request will be granted.

The NHTSA is investigating three fires in the battery packs of GM’s Chevy Volt following collision tests. The NLPC alleges that the NHTSA “may have withheld information of this potential safety problem from the public for several months.”

Says a NLPC statement:

“The United States government still owns a significant stake in GM. There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a government agency investigating a government-owned company. Moreover, the NHTSA cannot be impartial because it has become a cheerleader for electric vehicles.”

According to its website, the “NLPC promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action.”

 

 

 

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56 Comments on “Ethics Group Says Government Suppressed Chevrolet Volt Evidence...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    And so it begins……..

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Are there any responsible adults buying cars anymore?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        No, that’s why GM and Chrysler went bankrupt and vehicle sales are down across the board.

        I don’t think this decade-long economic/military blunder has much to do with the Chevy Volt batteries, though — those batteries are far more likely to help solve that problem (in the long run) by reducing foreign oil imports.

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        ‘I don’t think this decade-long economic/military blunder has much to do with the Chevy Volt batteries, though — those batteries are far more likely to help solve that problem (in the long run) by reducing foreign oil imports.

        Now there’s a stretch……

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Fahey

      There are many, many folks out there who need auto safety scandals to keep them relevant, and in some cases, paid.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “The United States government still owns a significant stake in GM. There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a government agency investigating a government-owned company. Moreover, the NHTSA cannot be impartial because it has become a cheerleader for electric vehicles.”

      All true!

      GM is government-owned and it would not benefit GM nor the Government if any problems with ANY of their vehicles are brought to light. That makes people want to buy something else.

      What both GM and the Government need is for more people to actually choose to buy GM vehicles to where GM is actually making real money (as opposed to recirculating bail out money) and can repay the billions of dollars of taxpayer money so generously bestowed upon them by Bush and Obama.

      It is highly unlikely that repayment of any kind will ever happen. What is more likely is that GM will be bankrupt again within the next few years and need another tax payer bail out. They’re doing the same thing they did in the past and expecting a different outcome…

      It is only logical that ANY problems experienced by GM will be downplayed by GM AND the Government. Where are Ray LaHood and the like-minded who jumped all over Toyota for imagined SUA incidents?

      The number of Volts sold to date is very small, miniscule at best. If more Volts had been sold and on the road it stands to reason more Volts would have caught fire.

      So the Volt is GM’s Pinto. Still no big deal. Not all Pintos exploded when in a collision, and not all Volts will self-ignite when in an accident. What GM needs is an ad-campaign to get more people to buy a Volt.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @highdesertcat: “The number of Volts sold to date is very small, miniscule at best. If more Volts had been sold and on the road it stands to reason more Volts would have caught fire.”

        How would they catch on fire? Just by existing? Has it ever been discussed or photos shown just how bad the crash test damage was in the May tests? FWIW, the batteries and sub-assemblies are pretty far inside the structure of the car, it had to take a pretty good impact to damage something that far in.

        Additionally, trying to taint the Volt with the undeserved legacy of the Pinto is a bit of a stretch. The Pinto in the infamous trial was struck from behind at 45 MPH, while stopped in the road. IIRC there were more Fords that went up in flames over the ignition key recall than Pintos that ever caught fire in car accidents.

        Ford was forced into a recall of those cars, twice in fact, and even then the situation was going on for so long the have no idea if all of the affected cars were ever fixed. (I had two of them, myself; I never parked them in my garage.)

        Oddly enough, no one ever cites those incidents. Do you think the government and the media are covering up something for Ford maybe?

        “So the Volt is GM’s Pinto. Still no big deal. Not all Pintos exploded when in a collision, and not all Volts will self-ignite when in an accident.”

        Doesn’t that contradict your earlier statement that if more Volts were on the road they would catch fire?

        I know you think that GM and Chrysler should have all dried up and blown away because of the bailouts, and you’re entitled to that opinion. But don’t you think logic is getting stretched out a bit here?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        geozinger, were you aware that a couple of weeks ago I bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4X4 V6 for my wife to replace her 2008 Toyota Highlander Limited 4X4? Fact!

        Also, one of my brothers owned THREE Pintos of different years and models simultaneously, because they worked so well for him. He and I tooled a lot on those Pintos to keep them running, and none of them ever caught on fire. But no collisions or accidents either.

        But it stands to reason if more Volts had been sold and were on the road, more than the NHTSA Volts would be involved in real-world crash tests, with incendiary results.

        Still, this is not a problem. Not all Volts will be involved in crashes, and not all Volts will self-ignite and burn their surroundings.

        Evidently GM thinks there may be some substance to these fires because they are announcing that they are close to a fix. There would be no need for a fix if there were no fire-issues.

        You are correct in that I believe that both GM and Chrysler should not have been bailed out. It was bad precedence set by Bush and taken to the nth degree by Obama. But what the hell? The taxpayers paid for it, right? And got NOTHING in return for it.

        Who in their right mind can defend 94% of the workforce keeping 6% of the workforce employed by paying their way and allowing the UAW to live large on taxpayers’ expense?

        If you think that’s justifiable, there are a lot more worthy mom&pops that went under in spite of GM and Chrysler being bailed out! How ’bout them apples? Why not bail them out, too?

        Chrysler is now Italian-owned with the generous $1.3B bribe it cost the US tax payers, and GM should be foreign-owned since they will never be profitable nor repay the bail out money. GM cannot sell enough product to ever stand on its own. There aren’t enough GM buyers on this planet!

        Just in case my wife’s new Jeep turns out to be like the Chrysler’s of the past, we’re holding on to that problem-free Highlander.

    • 0 avatar
      vento97

      NLPC: “Can you please respond to the allegations that your organization suppressed evidence pertaining to the safety issues involving the Chevy Volt?”

      Government Motors: “I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ – PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!”

      One hell of a metaphor, isn’t it?

      Perhaps there been too much focus on the government figureheads (Bush, Obama, etc.) and not enough focus on the people behind the scenes (i.e. their underlings and cronies) who are actually causing the problems…

      Food for thought….

  • avatar
    redliner

    This whole thing is utter nonsense. Obviously, there may be some improvements that should be made to the battery and/or its cooling system, but the volt is hardly a rolling death-mobile.

    Just like the Toyota UA scandal, this has nothing to do with the actual safety of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Except that the US of A government invested a few dozen billions in GM. While Toyota is the strongest competitor to that investment.

      The government does have a real incentive to use double standards.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    That “ethics group” is yet another right-wing political lobby posing as something neutral. As one would expect, it’s funded by the Scaifes:

    http://mediamattersaction.org/transparency/organization/National_Legal_and_Policy_Center/funders

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      And media matters isn’t just another Soros funded hatchet organization. Are you for real? Do you not see how ridiculous you are when parroting his agenda in cases where the issue is funding?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        And media matters isn’t just another Soros funded hatchet organization.

        The lack of logical reasoning around these parts is astounding.

        The Scaifes are giving money to the NLPC. George Soros’ political inclinations don’t do anything to change the fact that the Scaifes keep the NLPC in business.

        The point is that the NLPC is not just an “ethics group.” It is a partisan political lobby (whose leadership, incidentally, is made up of GOP fundraisers and supporters.) Unless you want this site to become The Truthiness About Cars, then try adding some facts to your repertoire, instead of your usually reactionary tripe.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Sorry, I was still giving you far too much credit. All of these organizations wind up taking money from people with agendas, both from people with a free market agenda and people with a totalitarian ambition to restore serfdom. This group is interested in exposing fascist tendencies of the current regime. Soros funded groups are interested in ending democracy and herding sheep to the slaughter. Whether you understand that or not isn’t even important. You should at least understand that the people who are serving as watchdogs while a progressive is in office are not going to be other progressives. The opposite is true when someone is President who wasn’t lying while taking the oath of office. The issue here is whether or not it can be proven that the Obama administration is acting against the interests of the public. Of course it is conservatives who are asking the questions.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @Pch101: Are you for real?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        CJ, you’re big on hyperbole, but not much else.

        You keep trying to dance away from the main point — this is not just an “ethics group.” I know that you want to do a death dance for the Volt, but at this point, the endless rhetoric just makes look petty.

        (And I say that as someone who doesn’t generally have much love for most GM cars, and who has low expectations for the Volt ever being a commercial success.)

      • 0 avatar

        I think that the NLPC might be more of a conservative/libertarian think tank than lobbyists. Of course one man’s lobbying is another man’s petition of the government for redress of grievance.

        Speaking as someone right of center that’s tried to be scrupulous in my writing on the Volt fire issue, and as someone whose posts at Cars In Depth have been linked to from NLPC’s site, I can say with some certitude that the NLPC has a hardon against the Volt. I’m not happy with how they misrepresented my reporting on the topic.

        I consider them about as unreliable as Media Matters.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I consider them about as unreliable as Media Matters.

        Media Matters does a reliable job of document donations such as these.

        Donations made by charitable foundations are a matter of public record. When the Scaife non-profits give money to organizations such as the NLPC, those contributions are listed in their 990 filings with the IRS.

        990 filings can be found online, so the information is easily verified. Media Matters is simply restating information that has already been disclosed on the 990s. If you can find a pattern of inaccuracy, then show it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I consider them about as unreliable as Media Matters.

        That would be nice, except that the donation data from Media Matters is quite reliable.

        Non-profits have to file a form 990 with the IRS. 990 filings are a matter of public record. Donors such as the various Scaife non-profits list their donations on their 990 filings.

        In preparing the donor lists, Media Matters is compiling the data from the 990 filings that are publicly available. If you have proof that they do it incorrectly, then provide it.

        Unlike some of the kneejerk posters here, I have spot checked some of the numbers to verify their accuracy. As it turns out, Media Matters got them right. It may be fun for some of the readership to foam at the mouth about causes they oppose, but facts are facts, and at least three Scaife groups have made a combined seven figures’ worth of contributions to NLPC.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    George Soros’s Media Matters? Speaking of partisan lobbying groups…

    This is the ultimate result of vested interests between the WH, Treasury, that moron Lahood, and Gubmint Motors. Even Soros must see that – if he wants to.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Before we start taking Media Matters take on this, a left-wing group if there ever was one, let’s wait for the friday night document dump and see what settles to the bottom.
    Calls for transparency are a bitch when a different team is in the WH.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I completely agree with the comment “Calls for transparency are a bitch when a different team is in the WH”. That is why I prize consistency and decry pointless politicking from either side.

      The Volt was started before Obama became President, there has been no evidence of the administration influencing commercial decisions. Some worried when the bailouts happened that this would mean GM would only make “green” vehicles – how does the Camaro ZL1 fit into that?

      Why do they need documents from 2009 when the battery issues are 2011?

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      > a left-wing group if there ever was one

      The link above is a list of organizations providing funding. Attacking the source gains you no credibility. If you disagree with the content of the list or the implication here that a group funded solely by right-wing groups could have a right-wing agenda, by all means address that.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        As long as you agree that Pch101s comment has no credibility also? Pch101s comment is a knee jerk reaction. “Right-wing = bad”.

        Here’s a list of groups that Soros has funded
        http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=589

        Do you dispute this list? If you do, is it because of the source? Hint, it is a David Horowitz web site. Don’t dispute it because who is behind it. Doing so, destroys your credibility.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        As long as you agree that Pch101s comment has no credibility also?

        I’m just following the money. You should try it sometime.

      • 0 avatar
        FleetofWheel

        “I’m just following the money. You should try it sometime.”

        Ok.

        Govt money >>> GM/Chrylser bailout >>> UAW >>> contributions to Dem/Obama

        Govt money >>> Solyndra (run by Obama campaign VIPS) >>> contributions to Dem/Obama

        Govt stokes alleged Toyota UAA but dampers evidence about alleged Volt battery dangers

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        In all fairness, a lot of people actually purchased the Toyota models in question. If there was a safety problem with the Volt wouldn’t it just be quicker for the owners to have a phone tree or something. Seems like it would take a lot longer to issue press releases and what not. 100 or so phone calls and you have all the owners notified.

        The Volt is irrelevant.

  • avatar
    86er

    You say left wing, I say right wing.

    Left wing.

    Right wing.

    Left wing.

    Right wing.

    Let’s call the whole thing off!

  • avatar
    thornmark

    AutoGUIDE:
    Chevrolet Volt Battery Issues Growing, Safety Findings May Have Been Suppressed
    Following on from the announcement that GM is looking at redesigning the Chevrolet Volt’s lithium-ion battery system in the wake of several highly publicized fires resulting from test crashes, comes further news that both the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration delayed disclosure of their original findings by months….
    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2011/12/chevrolet-volt-battery-issues-growing-safety-findings-may-have-been-suppressed.html

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Another witch hunt.

    The government didn’t even know of any “Volt evidence”, so how could it have suppressed it?

    I’m no fan of the Volt, the bailout, or the misplaced liberal support of both, but this is ridiculous. There really aren’t conspiracies around every corner.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      This is much like the Toyota unintended acceleration debacle, that was trumped up and hyped to no end by the DOT, despite the fact the situation was caused as much by driver stupidity was it was any technical flaw.

      Are Volts spontaneously combusting? Not yet; neither were Toyotas suddenly veering out of control in ways that couldn’t be handled by a competent driver. That didn’t matter, the story took off… in large part thanks to the politically motivated commentary from one Ray DaHood.

      One can only hope this does the same kind of damage to GM as UA did to Toyota. Turnabout’s fair play.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Spoken like a “true” American Rob, what better way to satisfy your own political opinions than for, as you state yourself, unwarranted concern to hit GM. As a taxpayer who no doubt bitches about the deficit why do you want damage to GM and hence the stock price and hence the taxpayer who owns a minority stake?

        UA was but one issue, admittedly the largest, facing Toyota. They had plenty of warranted recalls. My Sienna had two (spare wheel and fuel system) and the floor mats were also an issue. Especially since I haven`t seen a case with any other company where ill fitted mats killed people.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Rob …These days I read a lot more than I comment. I couldn’t agree more with your first two paragraphs. I never bought into the UA b.s. anymore than I’m buying this battery krap.

        Its all hype to justify some departments inflated budget.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Its all hype to justify some departments inflated budget.

        No, there’s more to it than that. NHTSA had no choice but to respond in a big way after the Mark Saylor crash in San Diego: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2009/aug/31/officer-kin-reportedly-victims-fiery-crash-31-aug-/

        It was a high-speed wreck that ended in a fire. It involved a cop and his family was in the car. And it included a recorded 911 call that documented the event right up until the end. It made national news. With all of those elements to the story, they couldn’t ignore it.

        The idea of the demon car that crashes itself is a compelling story to a lot of people. Unfortunately for TMC, unintended acceleration is virtually always a matter of driver error, but that doesn’t play well with the public and its fear of the demon cars. The fact that Mr. Saylor was the victim of a jammed floor mat that was made for a different model of car wasn’t nearly as interesting of a story.

        UA makes for difficult PR because no company wants to publicly blame its customers for their lives ending in a fireball. (And in the case of the Saylor crash, TMC wouldn’t have wanted to publicly point fingers at one of its dealerships for the mistake.) In that case, the automaker had no choice but to take it on the chin.

        Chances are that NHTSA didn’t think that this Volt incident was that big of a deal. While they are studying it (as they should), they were obviously in no hurry to take the cars off of the road.

        It’s the media that’s hyping it up, not the agency. NHTSA understands that a single vehicle fire is not necessarily indicative of a pattern. Hundreds of cars catch fire every single day in the United States, but the blogosphere seems fixated on this particular one. I think that you can guess why this one fire matters so much to them, while the thousands that have happened since then don’t get any attention at all.

      • 0 avatar
        nuvista

        How quickly we forget!

        There was in fact a massive worldwide Toyota recall for an accelerator pedal defect related to UA. There were issues with floor mat entrapment, also. What was proven eventually was that there was no defect in the vehicles’ control software that led to UA, which had been the bone of contention.

        The problem now with the Volt fires, as then with UA, is that people are jumping to conclusions before analysis is complete – the premature conclusions and conspiracy theories being largely a function of political persuasion and brand affinity. And, as usual, the media leads the stampede and promotes the political theater.

        The real damage to Toyota’s reputation IMO resulted from other things uncovered during the scrutiny sparked by the UA media frenzy. It became clear that Toyota had not been recalling cars as required by law or slow-walking recalls – also against the law. That is why they were fined.

        Sometimes cars were recalled in other markets, but not in the USA. In other cases, the defect was quietly corrected in production, but the cars already sold were not recalled. In one instance, the cars were recalled In the USA, but they continued selling the cars before applying the fix.

        A specific example I remember is the Prius brake defect. It was corrected in production based on complaints in other markets, but months later Toyota USA told the press that the problem was still under investigation.

        The people calling the shots in Japan either did not understand their obligations under US law, or chose to ignore them. Either way, they broke the law and had a backlog of recalls they had to issue in short order.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    “Joan Claybrook, a former adminstrator at NHTSA believes part of the reason for the delay was the “fragility of Volt sales.” Yet she also believes that “NHTSA could have put out a consumer alert, not to tell them [customers] for six months makes no sense to me.”

  • avatar
    carguy

    “The United States government still owns a significant stake in GM. There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a government agency investigating a government-owned company.”

    Yeah that’s why the government also has a conflict of interest when it comes to road safety as they own most roads. We also shouldn’t trust the law to either police or judges as they too are part of the government. Don’t even get me started on the pro government bias in the fire brigade.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Road safety has little or nothing to do with who actually owns the narrow strip of land where automotive accidents may occur. Then again most public roads are easements and the goverenment just has full access but not title.

  • avatar
    racebeer

    As one of our local radio personalities would say …..

    B as in B, and S as in S

    ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Nothing to see here citizens, move along, move along, there are free tinfoil hats down at the street corner…

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Oh, for crying out loud. The only thing the NHTSA has to hide is its own sloppy handling of the crash vehicles. They can claim GM didn’t tell them they had to drain the battery after a crash the first time, but by then they should have known enough to drain the “tank” after the second and third crash tests. If they need a manufacturer to tell them what to do after their safety tests, how good can their safety testing be?

    • 0 avatar
      daveainchina

      Pretty much what I’ve been thinking. Just bad management and poor judgement by those involved.

      A fire that happens weeks after the accident?? /shrug who cares other than the local storage facility for accidents, and wrecking yards.

      More fires involve normal ICE cars but I don’t see anyone going crazy over them. I’m sure this is just people looking for bad news because they have too much free time.

      Maybe instead of looking into things that are pretty non-important except to make people hysterical, they could invent something or do something to give the USA more jobs.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Sounds like Chevy needs to make more gas station commercials for the Volt.

    (Guy 1)”Hey, this is a Volt right?”
    (Volt driver)”Yes.”
    (Guy 1)”Yeah, these blow up in crash.”
    (Volt driver)[sigh] “No. No, they don’t.”
    (Guy 1) “That’s what I read at the bottom of the screen on the news.”
    (Volt driver)”Ugh, it’s never caught fire in a crash. That happened-”
    (Guy 2)”Hey. Be careful of that thing. It’s got them newfangled batteries that catch fire.”

    (Narrator)”THE CHEVY VOLT. WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO RUN A CAR COMPANY.”

  • avatar
    raven1462

    The anti-hysteria article, but where is the fun in that…
    http://blog.caranddriver.com/chevy-volt-hysteria-we%e2%80%99re-all-going-to-die-or-an-application-of-facts-and-rationality-to-flaming-batteries-and-melting-chargers/#more-71630

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Update: IIHS has a different view:

    http://tinyurl.com/7tcnslw


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