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.
NHTSA has has opened a formal defect investigation into the Chevrolet Volt, on the grounds that
Intrusion in a crash may damage the battery, which may result in a substantial thermal reaction and fire
We knew that NHTSA was already looking in to this type of defect after an earlier test incident, but the official investigation resume [PDF] lists three separate thermal events that have occurred as a result of NHTSA tests. Hit the jump for the official explanation of this sequence of events.
I’ve suggested in these pages that the several documented fires involving Chevrolet Volts suggest some kind of pattern, as no other major-manufacturer EVs have been involved in any reported fires. But, as Ronnie Schreiber at Cars In Depth points out, even that pattern seems to pale in comparison to the National Fire Protection Association’s tally of highway vehicle fires in the US each year. Though the number of highway vehicle fires has decreased significantly since 1980, 2009 still saw 190,500 fires. And between 2003 and 2007,
On average, 31 highway vehicle fires were reported per hour. These fires killed one person a day.
Want to know how to get a good chunk of the Detroit 3, no money down? Easy: Today, Fiat increased its ownership of Chrysler from 20 percent to 25 percent. What did they pay for it? Niente. Fiat received the extra shares “upon the Company’s achievement of the first of three performance-related milestones,” as a Chrysler Group LLC press release proclaims. And what is that milestone? They started making an engine. (Read More…)
The Tata Nano was seen as the car which will set the Indian car market on fire. Unfortunately, it seems it’ll also roast its owners. (Read More…)
Ferrari is sending engineers all around to the world to investigate “thermal incidents”. Now what’s a “thermal incident” you might ask? It ain’t a mistake that happens in your long johns, that’s for sure.
It’s corporate speak for “that supercar which you lashed loads of money on may catch fire in a big way.” (Read More…)