After the U.S. auto safety regulators began an investigation regarding the safety of the Chevrolet Volt at the end of 2011, GM looked into the matter and made the necessary tweaks. Now, General Motors claims that Chevrolet Volt doesn’t jeopardize drivers’ lives.
The issue GM had to deal with was caused by the Volt’s battery pack. At that time, the Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) decided to open a probe into the safety of the battery pack on the electric car produced by General Motors. NHTSA said that after the first incident was not singular. The authority recreated the initial incident by testing three new Volt lithium-ion battery packs. In two of the tests, the batteries caught fire. The investigation was closed last week.
Wednesday, General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson went before a House subcommittee to plead for the safety of the Chevrolet Volt. Akerson said that at no time had a customer been in imminent danger of fire and made allegations of having to deal with political and not practical reasons regarding the scrutiny around the Volt.
“We did not design the Volt to become a political punching bad and that’s what it’s become” said Akerson. He later told reporters that “there is a certain political air” about the Volt’s safety.
Proof that Akerson might be right about the political vibe involved in the investigation are the committee’s questions regarding whether the government’s investment in GM had anything to do about NHTSA’s late beginning of the investigation. The committee also asked question about higher fuel economy standards and new negotiations on getting investments’ from the government.
Republican Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the committee, said: “This is about safety. This is about government’s role”.
Akerson replied to the questions that the government never had a saying. “I will testify in front of the good Lord that this administration has never had a presence in the boardroom or any input in the operation of the business”.
But, the GM executive stated that allegations coming from Republicans regarding the Volt safety concerns could impact the company’s sales. “I don’t think there has been collateral damage. We’re going to have to work hard to get it back”.
The committee agreed that the NHTSA should have been more aggressive in its investigation and will continue looking at Volt.