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Opinion: A Waste of a Good Man’s Time

Safety is secondary when politics becomes theater.

by on Jan.30, 2012

GM CEO Dan Akerson at last week's Congressional hearing on the Chevy Volt.

So much of Washington is political theater, meant to do nothing except entertain, advance political ambition, or provide political cover.

Consider what happened here last Wednesday.

The augustly titled House Subcommittee on Government Reform and Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending called a hearing.

Was it to congratulate Detroit’s chief executives and workers on busting their tails to save the domestic automobile industry, the major component of American manufacturing? Was it to congratulate General Motors Co., three short years after going through bankruptcy, for regaining the global sales crown? Was it even to conduct a cursory review on how GM, 26.5% owned by the federal government, has been using taxpayer money?

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No. It was none of those things. Instead, the Republican-controlled subcommittee, which has subpoena power,  was “investigating” already explained and thoroughly understood, by anyone with the practical sense to understand such things, latent fires occurring in a few plug-in electric Chevrolet Volts days and weeks AFTER they had been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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?

Copyright 2011 by

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.