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Posts Tagged ‘chevrolet volt fire’

Electric Vans Likely to Save Owners Money

But battery cars likely to cost $1000s more, says new study.

by on Jun.20, 2012

Nissan is expecting strong fleet demand for the battery version of its NV200 van.

Electric passenger cars currently cost $5,000 to $6,000 more for their owners to buy and operate than an equivalent fossil fuel car over the vehicle’s lifetime, according to a new study by the Paris-based International Transport Forum (ITF).

But because of the different operating requirement, an electric delivery van costs is likely to cost as much as $5,000 less to own and operate when compared to a similar van running on gasoline or diesel, the same study found.

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The study also shows that:

  • The costs of reducing CO2 emissions by promoting electric cars, even with low-carbon sources of electricity, remain high.
  • In those cases where electric cars already compare favorably to fossil-fuelled vehicles, subsidies may be superfluous.


NHTSA Weighing in on Fisker Karma Fire

Plenty of finger-pointing but still no clear cause.

by on May.22, 2012

The Karma might look light and nimble but weighs nearly 5,300 pounds.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is the latest to wade into the debris trying to figure out the cause of a fire in a Texas garage, earlier this month, that consumed a Fisker Karma and several other luxury vehicles.

The conflagration was originally blamed by local authorities on the Fisker plug-in sports car but that initial explanation is being challenged by the carmaker – which pointedly revealed that the car’s lithium-ion battery pack was intact after the blaze.  For its part, Fisker has suggested there might even be some mischief at work, hinting that the fire might have been purposely set.

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For its part, NHTSA is simply describing the investigation as “ongoing,” and declining to join the finger-pointing.

“We are still engaged in that activity, and no determination has been made at this time,” Claude Harris, NHTSA’s director of vehicle compliance, said during an electric vehicle safety forum.


Did Fisker Karma Cause Garage Fire?

Conflicting reports on cause.

by on May.09, 2012

A Fisker Karma with company founder Henrik Fisker.

So far, the Fisker Karma hasn’t exactly set the automotive market on fire – but there are conflicting reports on the cause of a fire in a suburban Houston garage that destroyed one of the plug-in sports cars and several exotic vehicles, with one official pointing to the Karma.

The May 3 fire in Sugar Land, Texas seriously damaged a garage containing a Karma, Mercedes-Benz SUV and an Acura NSX.  While the lithium-ion battery on the Fisker appears to have been intact, the initial investigation pointed to the plug-in.

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Robert Baker, the head of the Bend County fire department’s investigating team told Auto Week magazine that he believed the Karam “was the origin of the fire, but what exactly caused that we don’t know at this time.”

The news would be a major setback for the California start-up, which has faced significant delays in its roll-out of new products, including the Karma, with its next model, the Atlantic, indefinitely delayed. Named for Danish auto designer Henrik Fisker, the firm has had a federal loan withdrawn and is racing to line up private equity to keep going.


Lutz Lashes Out at Volt Critics

by on Feb.01, 2012

USMC Captain Bob Lutz (ret.) climbs back into the cockpit to defend the Chevrolet Volt.

Former Marine pilot Bob Lutz has strafed some of the best-known conservative pundits for their criticism of the Chevrolet Volt, including radio host Rush Limbaugh and Fox New commentator Bill O’Reilly – the latter deserving what Lutz called “the Oscar for totally irresponsible journalism.”

The ever-outspoken Lutz, a former General Motors Vice Chairman, broke silence in the wake of last week’s hearings stemming from several fires that followed federal crash tests of the Volt and its battery pack.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration briefly opened and then quickly closed an investigation into the plug-in hybrid after General Motors identified the likely source of the problem and announced steps to reduce the likelihood of fires.

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But lawmakers used the January 25th hearing as a political set piece to raise questions about the 2009 federal bailout of General Motors and alleged improprieties by the administration’s top auto safety executive. Though those themes gained little traction during the hearings the Volt has become a popular whipping boy among conservative pundits like Limbaugh and O’Reilly, the latter making it sound like the battery cars routinely catch fire during a segment with TV pundit Lou Dobbs.

“That simply isn’t the case,” said Lutz, in a column for Forbes.  In a subsequent interview with the Detroit Free Press, he lamented the lack of “ethics” and “fairness” the conservative commentators demonstrated.


Did Feds Inadvertently Cause Chevy Volt Fire?

Feds didn't follow protocol after crash test.

by on Nov.11, 2011

Did NHTSA inadvertently cause a fire after crash testing a Chevrolet Volt?

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The spotlight is on the Chevrolet Volt following word that one of the plug-in hybrids caught fire while being tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But has learned that the fire was readily preventable had a few simple steps been taken after a Volt was put through a series of tests three weeks earlier.

Federal regulators have promised a full investigation of the spring incident in which the Volt caught fire and burned several nearby vehicles.  That has raised serious questions about the safety of its batteries, though GM officials say it may instead require adapting federal crash tests – as well as what happens in the field in the event of a real collision.

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The fire occurred at a private facility in Wisconsin where the NHTSA conducts crash tests on new vehicles.  On May 12, the battery car was subject to a so-called “pole” test, where it is rammed into a barrier at 20 mph to simulate a side impact.  The vehicle was then subject to what is known informally as the “rotisserie test,” where it is rolled over into various positions to test for leaks that might have occurred during the crash.

Ironically, the Volt did well enough to earn a five-star rating, the best possible.