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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RE: Politics......
By Iaiken on 1/20/2012 1:36:11 AM , Rating: 3
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:

"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.

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
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.

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