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Transpo Chief LaHood Denies Hiding Volt Defect

NHTSA facing Congressional scrutiny.

by on Dec.09, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson is being grilled by a Republican House leader over Volt battery concerns.

The nation’s top automotive regulator is denying his department attempted to hide a potentially serious safety problem with the Chevrolet Volt.

Despite waiting months before revealing that one of the plug-in hybrids had caught fire after a May crash test, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his department needed time to see what actually caused the fire in a yard used to hold vehicles after they were tested.

The incident – and a second test-related fire, last month, involving a Volt – have raised concerns about the safety of the Chevy hatchback’s battery pack.  But while the DoT’s automotive arm, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has begun a formal investigation of the Volt, the initial delay has led critics to question if there was a political motive at work.

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“Absolutely not true,” countered LaHood when asked about the criticism, which is largely being fueled by Republicans, including California Congressman Darrell Issa.


Feds Step Up Investigation in Wake of New Chevy Volt Fires

New tests raise additional concerns.

by on Nov.28, 2011

NHTSA has now launched a formal investigation after an additional fire in a Chevy Volt battery pack it was crash-testing.

Already concerned about a battery fire that followed the spring crash test of a Chevrolet Volt, federal safety regulators have opened a new investigation as the result of additional fires involving Volt’s lithium-ion batteries.

Company officials have already blamed the initial incident on a failure to follow proper procedures following the crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they contend the Volt is safe despite the latest fires.  But the new study could create a serious problem for the automaker as it gets ready to push for a six-fold increase in sales of the plug-in hybrid next year.

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In a statement, GM said it has “worked closely” with the NHTSA and wasn’t surprised by the news the agency would launch a formal investigation.  But the maker also declared the volt “is safe and does not present undue risk as part of normal operation or immediately after a severe crash.”