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NHTSA Performing ‘Formal Safety Defect Investigation’ on Chevy Volt; Update: GM to Offer Loaner Cars

By Doug Powers  •  November 27, 2011 08:00 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Would you have expected anything less from Motor Trend’s Car of the Year?

From Autoblog:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a statement on its investigation into a Chevrolet Volt fire that occurred at the organization’s facilities. NHTSA had done a side-impact test on a Volt then parked it outside, and three weeks later Chevy’s plug-in hybrid caught fire. The battery was determined to be the cause, after its coolant line was ruptured during the side-impact test. That led the NHTSA to consider a ruling forcing hybrid and electric-car batteries to be drained after a wreck.

On Friday, NHTSA said it is opening “a formal safety defect investigation” to study the risks of fire in Chevy Volts that have been in major accidents. To be clear, though, the larger story is that this isn’t just about the Volt, this is about any vehicle with a battery pack, with NHTSA gathering “additional information about the potential for fire in electric vehicles involved in a crash…”

The NHTSA obviously knows it’s working on thin ice when it comes to popping lucrative (for some) “green” bubbles:

NHTSA issued an unusually lengthy, even apologetic, statement saying electric vehicles have “incredible potential” to reduce gasoline consumption but said it was necessary to determine whether the batteries in electric cars are safe.

There’s one positive aspect of practically every wildly expensive taxpayer-supported product that is pushed by the government for reasons other than consumer demand: The inevitable recall won’t inconvenience very many people.

Update: GM is offering loaner cars to concerned Volt owners. The loaner will be a Hummer H3 (just seeing if Al Gore’s paying attention).

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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Categories: Automakers, Delphi

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