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Dealerships are turning down Volts GM wants to send them due to the recent battery fires and lack of sales

Earlier this month, GM announced that it was looking to pull in all 8,000 Chevrolet Volts off U.S. roads as well as the 4,400 for sale in showrooms for a battery recall. Volt dealers addressed the battery issues by adding steel to the plate that protects the EV's T-shaped, 400-pound battery. This steel would protect any penetration that could occur in an auto accident, and also evenly distribute the force of a crash. NHTSA tested the steel addition and announced that it would be a good fix.

Fixing the battery problem still hasn't made dealers feel any better, though. In fact, some Chevrolet dealers are turning away Volts that GM wants to ship to them partially because they're waiting for the fire situation to settle, and partially because the car just isn't selling the way GM wants it to.

Last month, GM sent 104 Volts to 14 dealers in the New York City market. The dealers only took 31 of them, which is the lowest rate take for any Chevrolet model in that particular market last month according to Automotive News.

Over on the west coast, Brett Hedrick, dealer principal at Hedrick's Chevrolet in Clovis, California, sold only 10 Volts last year total. For December 2011 and January 2012, he turned down all six Volt EVs allocated to him.

"[GM's] thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy," said Hedrick. "We've never sold more than two in a month."

This is particularly odd because Hedrick said he normally accepts most of the vehicles that GM allocates to his dealership.

GM sold a total of 7,671 Volts in the U.S. in 2011, which didn't quite hit the 10,000 mark the automaker was hoping for. Now, instead of pursuing the original Volt production goal of 60,000 units (where 75 percent would be for U.S. sales) for 2012, GM said it would simply make as many as customers wanted.

Rob Peterson, a GM spokesman, said that dealers were indeed making less Volt orders in recent months and that the dealers were "waiting for resolution of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation."

Back in May 2011, GM's Chevrolet Volt underwent a series of tests at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) facility in Wisconsin. Three weeks after a side-impact crash test conducted on May 12, the Volt caught fire while parked in the testing center.

The fire prompted an investigation of the safety of lithium batteries used in plug-in electric vehicles. Lithium batteries can catch fire if the internal cells or the battery case are pierced by steel or another ferrous metal. In November, NHTSA conducted three additional side-impact crash tests with three separate Volts, and two out of the three sparked/caught fire after testing.

These battery issues caught a lot of attention from GM, customers, NHTSA and now dealers. GM was more than willing to do whatever it took to fix the problem, including offering loaner vehicles to scared Volt drivers and buying back Volts from any owner that asks.

GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson was called to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in regards to the Volt's battery fires last year. This testimony coupled with the recent recall should hopefully offer some resolution and put worried minds at ease.

Source: Automotive News



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RE: Imagine That....
By gregpet on 1/24/2012 4:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
Just like you aren't going to take your totaled Yugo home and park it in your garage with the tank leaking gasoline on to the floor - you shouldn't take a totaled Volt home and park it in your garage!

It's really not that complicated. When you total a vehicle it needs to be handled properly (regardless if it is electric or gas)! The NHTSA clearly doesn't feel that an electric vehicle is ANY MORE dangerous than a gasoline powered vehicle with regards to a fire hazard.


RE: Imagine That....
By Reclaimer77 on 1/25/2012 9:14:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just like you aren't going to take your totaled Yugo home and park it in your garage with the tank leaking gasoline on to the floor - you shouldn't take a totaled Volt home and park it in your garage!


Are you even listening to him with your brain engaged? It's pretty obvious a car leaking fuel is a hazard. A wrecked Volt is NOT obvious. There's no way the owner can determine if the battery has been compromised or not. Or the severity of the collision required to damage it. We just don't know. Are you an expert in battery tech? Is your mechanic? Is the repair shop an expert so as to determine if the Volt can catch fire and burn the shop down? No. Nobody knows! That's the point.

You keep saying "totaled" Volt but there's no evidence that only wrecks severe enough to total the vehicle result in the battery being damaged. We just do NOT know at this point the safety parameters of the vehicle. And there's evidence that GM knew this and held back. This should have been handled before the car was even put on the market.


RE: Imagine That....
By Masospaghetti on 1/25/2012 10:04:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We just don't know. Are you an expert in battery tech? Is your mechanic? Is the repair shop an expert so as to determine if the Volt can catch fire and burn the shop down? No. Nobody knows! That's the point.

Just because YOUR not an expert doesn't mean nobody is. The only cases that resulted in fires were from punctured coolant lines. So if your logic that leaking fuel is obvious, then leaking coolant is equally obvious, not to mention the clearly visible side impact damage.

Obviously some mechanics won't know how to assess damage to a Volt until it (or more EVs, at least) have been on the market for some time, but the dealerships would. Any new technology is going to have a learning curve.

quote:
We just do NOT know at this point the safety parameters of the vehicle. And there's evidence that GM knew this and held back.

GM stated that the batteries needed to be discharged after a collision but the NHTSA did not.

Besides, the condition that produced the fire is not at all realistic in the real world:

As part of NHTSA’s test procedure, the vehicle was put through a “slow roll,” where it’s rotated at 90 degree increments, holding in each position for about five minutes. During the “slow roll,” an additional one liter (about four and a quarter cups) of coolant leaked. While in the 180 degree position, which is upside down, the coolant came in contact with the printed circuit board electronics at the top of the battery pack. Three weeks later this condition, in combination with a charged battery, led to electrical activity that resulted in the post-crash fire.


RE: Imagine That....
By Reclaimer77 on 1/25/2012 3:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
GM stated that the batteries needed to be discharged after a collision but the NHTSA did not.


And who's going to do that? The owner who can barely be relied on to change his own light bulbs? Billy Bob the wrecker driver with a high school education who's never seen an EV car in his life? The shop mechanics who's job is to fix the body and paint the car, NOT to disconnect equipment?

quote:
Besides, the condition that produced the fire is not at all realistic in the real world:


So now the NHTSA doesn't know how to test vehicles? Right, good argument. You know they test regular vehicles under MANY circumstances that might not happen in the "real world", and you should be thankful they do. Because we're driving, on average, the safest cars ever made because of it.


RE: Imagine That....
By Masospaghetti on 1/26/2012 2:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And who's going to do that? The owner who can barely be relied on to change his own light bulbs?

The same owner (or shop owner) who is supposed to disconnect the lead-acid 12v battery from any car after a crash.
quote:
So now the NHTSA doesn't know how to test vehicles? Right, good argument.

Not at all what I said. You (and others) like to claim that the Volt is a huge safety hazard when only an extreme, unrealistic scenario produced a fire.


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