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Chevy Volt Gets Green Light for CA Carpool Lanes

What would sell better: a carpool sticker or a gun rack?

by on Feb.24, 2012

The first carpool-ready Chevy Volts are now rolling into California showrooms.

It’s often the little things that matter – like the little sticker that buyers will now be able to attach to the bumper of the Chevrolet Volt that qualifies the plug-in hybrid to drive in the carpool lane on California highways even when there’s only one person in the vehicle.

Actually, that’s not such a small advantage for a motorist who can shave precious minutes off the daily commute. It’s one reason why the Toyota Prius long did so well in the traffic-choked Golden State – buyers sometimes paying as much as $5,000 more for a used hybrid with one of the limited stickers attached.

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Unfortunately, the first Volts off the assembly line didn’t fall into the so-called P-ZEV – or “partial-zero-emissions vehicle” – category required to get the carpool sticker even though they could drive up to 30 miles or so entirely on battery power. Now, General Motors has corrected that problem and the updated Chevy Volt will not only get to drive solo in the carpool lane – saving an estimated 36 minutes a day in Southern California – but also earn a $1,500 state rebate.


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.


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.


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.