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Print 28 comment(s) - last by teacherlee.. on Jan 28 at 3:38 PM

House Panel wants to know when the NHTSA knew about the fire risk

GM handled the fire issues during testing of the Volt as well as the company could. It was a situation that made more than a few Volt owners worry and certainly hurt Volt sales at the end of the year causing GM to miss Volt sales goals. Eventually, the testing found the issue and a recall was issued to repair the vehicles.
 
The recall will see dealerships add in a steel plate that will help protect the battery pack inside the car in the event of an accident. The NHTSA has tested Volts with the new plate and found that it fixes the issue.
 
Issuing a recall and finding the cure, however, doesn't get GM completely off the hook with Washington. GM's chairman and CEO Dan Akerson will testify at a hearing on Volt fires before a House panel investigating the fire risk. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hear Akerson's testimony along with the testimony of David Strickland, the head of the NHTSA.
 
"Dan has agreed to testify at the hearing, and he looks forward to doing it," GM spokesman Greg Martin said.
 
 
The reason for the investigation apparently has to do with the massive bailout money that GM was given by the U.S. government to keep the automaker solvent when the economy went bad. The hearing is titled, "Volt Vehicle Fire: What did NHTSA know and when did they know it?" It seems some of the issue with the Volt fires is that the NHTSA reportedly knew about the fire issue in June of 2011 and didn't inform the White House until September.
 
The public wasn't notified of the fire risk until November 12, and that was after reports surfaced in the media. The NHTSA says that after an investigation concluded damage to the battery pack was the cause of the fire, that happened three weeks after the crash test, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was briefed. The NHTSA formal investigation was launched on November 25.
 
Spokesperson Ali Ahmad for Issa said, "NHTSA has stalled on responding to the committee's inquiry for six weeks and inexplicably refused to provide any documents. The committee expects full compliance with its request and will consider compulsory methods if NHTSA does not immediately change its position."

Source: DetroitNews



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Politics......
By Amedean on 1/19/2012 10:05:47 PM , Rating: 4
I am confident that this has less to do with safety and more to do with political games associated with the stigma of GM's success being representative to any accomplishment by the White House. Of the many dangerous environmental issues purposefully being ignored why make such fuss about this? More cars have exploded from burning fuel than these batteries which could "potentially" catch fire.

The Volt is a well designed and reliable piece of American machinery, every Volt owner I have spoken to cherish their cars.




RE: Politics......
By Jedi2155 on 1/19/2012 11:32:59 PM , Rating: 4
If they're going to question GM about these fires during testing, what about BMW's 89,000 Mini Coopers?

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/16/autos/mini_cooper_...

quote:
There have been 81 cases of water pump failure in Mini Coopers globally so far, Bauters said, including four engine compartment fires.


Those have actually had fires ON THE ROAD versus a lab test designed to find the worse case scenario.


RE: Politics......
By Amedean on 1/19/2012 11:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If they're going to question GM about these fires during testing, what about BMW's 89,000 Mini Coopers? http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/16/autos/mini_cooper_... quote: There have been 81 cases of water pump failure in Mini Coopers globally so far, Bauters said, including four engine compartment fires. Those have actually had fires ON THE ROAD versus a lab test designed to find the worse case scenario.


Thank you!!!!


RE: Politics......
By Shig on 1/20/2012 12:47:56 AM , Rating: 2
Here is a great article detailing how EV related cars and gas cars are held to completely different standards.

The article also cites 8 other recalls related to fires from a multitude of cars and car companies over the past 18 months, but I'm sure you never saw those on the news sites.

http://cleantechnica.com/2012/01/13/evs-gasoline-p...


RE: Politics......
By Iaiken on 1/20/2012 1:36:11 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Those have actually had fires ON THE ROAD


That's not actually true, in fact that CNN article actually has quite a few problems with it.

1. The circuit board in question was responsible for running the water pump after the cars engine was turned off until it cooled down the engine/turbocharger to a safe temperature.

2. If the circuit board failed to perform this task, the absence of any cooling from moving air would result in the containment of residual heat between the engine block and the turbo, resulting in a small fire.

3. In ALL cases of actual fire the damage was limited to ~2000 worth of damage, limited to the circuit board in question and the surrounding wiring.

You are basically asking congress to freak out on BMW over a 0.000343% chance that the circuit board may fail and a 0.0000169% chance that the failure would still only result in minor damage.

Further, BMW had already fixed the design in the 2012 models before the NHTSA ever raised a stink about it and were already voluntarily recalling older vehicles to fix the problem as the new parts became available.


RE: Politics......
By Iaiken on 1/20/2012 1:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
Voted down for fact checking... you guys rock! :D


RE: Politics......
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/2012 3:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah pretty lame. Even I agreed with that post :)


RE: Politics......
By Iaiken on 1/20/2012 1:54:16 PM , Rating: 2
Further, the cars are built in England, so a few electrical fires are to be expected. :P


RE: Politics......
By Keeir on 1/20/2012 6:48:52 PM , Rating: 2
I think your missing the point.

The NHSTA is rarely taken to task over issues that occur in the course of normal operation. (BTW its 0.034% chance) Why would/should it be taken to task over a fire that occured to a crashed car that was not properly repaired or serviced for over 3 weeks from the instance. That is counter operation and clearly not a safety risk.

The NHSTA should treat all automobiles in a equal manner. The lack of evident emergency safety issue with the Volt explains the "slow" response... which is how the NHSTA handles other automobile issues.

If the NHSTA/Congress treats all cars equally based on how they treated the Volt, clearly BMW should also have had a congress session to explain there during normal operation fires.

This "hearing" is 100% political and is a complete waste of time and money. Regardless of your feelings about the Volt, GM, etc... I couldn't understand being "pleased" about this self-serving waste.


RE: Politics......
By ianweck on 1/21/2012 3:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
Seems this might be political, as you say. CNN is reporting that the Volt isn't any more fire prone than any other car:

quote:
"Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles," the agency said in its statement.


http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/20/autos/nhtsa_closes...


RE: Politics......
By FaaR on 1/20/2012 10:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
"2000 worth of damage", is that $2000 worth of damage?

How can some wiring and a circuit board amount to two grands' worth of damage - and be characterized by you as "minor" no less?

What kind of designer draws wiring inbetween engine block and turbocharger anyway, or anywhere near the turbo for that matter?


RE: Politics......
By Iaiken on 1/21/2012 2:09:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
How can some wiring and a circuit board amount to two grands' worth of damage


BMW parts, labor cost is included.

As for how this is minor... I guess you've just never had to repair a BMW before. I had some minor damage to the rear hatch/skirt where someone backed into my parked car in a parking lot, both parts had to be replaced at a sum cost of $4900, pre-painted from the factory. It sucks, but there really isn't any getting around it except to DIY what you can when you can.


RE: Politics......
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/12, Rating: 0
RE: Politics......
By Rukkian on 1/23/2012 10:46:31 AM , Rating: 2
I think the key point here is "at one point". Whether it was called a bailout or a loan, it was completely paid back. Most big companies get loans all the time, which is what this bailout ended up being.

Again this comes down to politics as some are trying to paint the bailouts as hand outs that cost us dearly, when in the end, I think it was a success (at least in this case). It kept a company that is USA based (even if they manufacture some parts/cars in other countries) alive, was completely repaid, and now the company is doing decent.


RE: Politics......
By danjw1 on 1/20/2012 10:44:31 AM , Rating: 2
Because those don't threaten the oil industry. That's what it is really about.


RE: Politics......
By StealthX32 on 1/20/2012 1:14:59 AM , Rating: 2
Difference is, those Hondas/BMWs/etc aren't paid for by your tax dollars.


RE: Politics......
By idiot77 on 1/20/12, Rating: 0
RE: Politics......
By NellyFromMA on 1/20/2012 10:31:37 AM , Rating: 2
How is he trolling? The article CLEARLY states part of the inquiry is due to the fact GM was kept afloat via DIRECT financial injection.

He's right... I'm sure that doesn't matter here, but he is.


RE: Politics......
By tng on 1/20/2012 7:23:20 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I am confident that this has less to do with safety and more to do with political games...

The Volt is a well designed and reliable piece of American machinery...
I agree with the first part, smells like politics, but the second is still up in the air, after all it is GM...


RE: Politics......
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/2012 8:44:53 AM , Rating: 2
So GM is welding steel plates onto the Volt because of politics? Ummm, ok, you're going to have to back that up before you make a claim like that.

But this is the problem with public money being used for a private corporation isn't it? And why people like me were so against it. We're always going to wonder if politics is involved in everything related to GM from now on, not simply business. GM is on the hook so to speak, indebted to the Government not just financially, but POLITICALLY. And that is never a situation that we should be in. Ever.

Now if you want a real example of political game playing, look no further than Toyota and the shameful victimization played upon them by our good old inept Congress. People jamming their floor mats under the gas pedal is, last time I checked, NOT a Congressional matter.

quote:
More cars have exploded


Only in movies lol. Cars do not "explode" in real life.


RE: Politics......
By idiot77 on 1/20/2012 9:51:16 AM , Rating: 1
Uh, yeah, OP had a good point.

http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/19/1...

I'm sure that's gotta burn some rears with __________ (R) for names.

It's not very common to drag CEOs of companies before congress on something that hasn't been found to be a problem. Toyota was a damn shame too, although I'm still not convinced anyone is telling the truth on that one (drivers or Toyota). This is suspicious of retribution.


RE: Politics......
By teacherlee on 1/28/2012 3:38:55 PM , Rating: 2
But this is the problem with public money being used for a private corporation isn't it? And why people like me were so against it.

And yet, mysteriously, I can't recall a single post of your complaining about this UNLESs and UNTIL something about it appears on Fox News. Public money has subsidised farmers, oil companies, corn, etc. for YEARS, but you don't complain about THAT. If the republicans had suggested that automakers be bailed out, you'd be here singing GM's praises.


RE: Politics......
By NellyFromMA on 1/20/2012 10:29:55 AM , Rating: 2
Have any of them gotten into any crashes and substantially later found their car in flames?

No offense, but its somewhat of a serious issue, no?

I don't think anyone is trying to bash the Volt, it IS a worthwhile engineering endevor. Maybe not all that commercially viable, but its also the first iteration and that comes with the territory.

None of that has anything to do with whether GM did or did not know about this real design flaw.


RE: Politics......
By acer905 on 1/20/2012 12:27:26 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, GM has specific instructions for after a crash which included removing the battery and monitoring it, because Li-ion batteries are well known for catching fire. It makes sense, in a case where there could have been damage, don't just let the battery sit there like a time-bomb.

Not really a design flaw, just the nature of the battery


RE: Politics......
By Jedi2155 on 1/21/2012 11:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
It is the nature of any thing designed to store large amounts of energy in a small space. Batteries, gasoline, hand-grenades. It was just found that in this specific scenario, there was a specific scenario where liquid would enter the electronics controlling the battery and allow ignition.


RE: Politics......
By FaaR on 1/20/2012 10:59:33 PM , Rating: 2
It's not somewhat of a serious issue no, because no sane person would crash their hybrid/electric vehicle and then NOT have the battery pack removed for inspection.

This is a complete non-issue.


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