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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.

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Battery Fire Investigation Closed – But Volt’s Problems May Not Yet be Over

GM CEO to testify before Congress.

by on Jan.23, 2012

A NHTSA investigation into possible problems with the Chevy Volt battery pack has been closed.

The Chevrolet Volt got a clean bill of health, last Friday, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closing its investigation into potential problems with the plug-in hybrid’s battery pack – but that doesn’t mean General Motors’ problems with the Volt are over, as a Congressional hearing is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

The Volt controversy stems from a fire that occurred last spring, weeks after one of the battery cars went through a federal crash test.  A second Volt battery pack caught fire after being tested in November.  That triggered an investigation by the NHTSA – as well as hearings by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, California Republican and committee chairman Darryl Issa contending that the government agency initially tried to cover up the original fire.

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Meanwhile, GM, noting that there have been no real-world reports of battery-related fires, nonetheless announced on January 5 that it will make a number of small but significant modifications to further reduce the likelihood of problems with the battery pack.

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