GM CEO Called to Testify Before House Panel on Volt Fires
January 19, 2012 9:50 PM
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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."
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
1/20/2012 12:27:26 PM
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
1/21/2012 11:51:44 PM
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.
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