General Motors said today that a “couple dozen” Chevy Volt owners have indicated that they plan to take the company up on its offer to buy back Volts from customers worried about potential fire dangers raised, by a recently announced NHTSA test. Last week, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson told the Associated Press that his company would do everything it could to alleviate customer concerns over the issue, including providing a temporary loaner vehicle or even an outright buyback.
“I think in the interest of General Motors, the industry, the electrification of the car, it’s best to get it right now than when you have — instead of 6,000 — 60,000 or 600,000 cars on the road,” Akerson said at the time.
But today, Automotive News reported that GM first heard about a Volt catching fire after an NHTSA crash test six months ago, and chose to keep the issue quiet until the agency could complete further testing. NHTSA didn’t disclose the incident to the public either.
The fires created in NHTSA testing didn’t start until weeks after the crash, and many electric vehicle supporters have pointed out that the gasoline tanks found on ICEs have always posed a far greater risk to driver safety than lithium ion batteries after an accident.
Early indications are that most Volt customers will hold onto their vehicles. An open letter signed by 230 Volt owners, including Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, stood in support of GM and NHTSA’s handling of the issue:
“Volt owners are glad that the NHTSA, GM, and other manufacturers have now implemented protocols for electric cars in a variety of circumstances… We are keeping the keys to our Volts. We love our Volts and we feel safe driving our Volts,” read the letter.