Consumer Reports Releases Plug-in Vehicle Survey Results, Says Volt Incident Misguided the General Public

In its 2012 Car Brand Perception Survey, Consumer Reports added a couple of questions to assess “America’s pulse” on plug-in vehicles. In particular, the magazine asked the general public questions pertaining mainly to plug-in vehicle safety.

Of the surveyed group, 43 percent of respondents believe that plug-in vehicles feel are as safe as gasoline-fueled automobiles and 20 percent deemed them safer. However, 28 percent fell that electrified vehicles are less safe than their gas-fueled counterparts.

While limited range was the most prevalent (77 percent) concern, fire risk during charging was a concern voiced by nearly half (44 percent) of the respondents. Other safety-related concerns included pedestrian safety due to silent operation (40 percent concerned), crash protection (39 percent) and post-crash fire concerns (35 percent), which ties directly to recent Chevy Volt incidents. At the bottom of the listed concerns were electric shock (30 percent) and accident avoidance (29 percent).

Consumer Reports Survey

In its 2012 survey, Consumer Reports assessed “America’s pulse” on plug-in vehicles and discovered that the general public has numerous concerns in regards to electrified automobiles.

According to Consumer Reports, most of these responses reveal that the general public is misinformed regarding plug-in vehicles. As the magazine so accurately states, “Exposure to such vehicles and more education should help consumers better understand that electrified cars have been proven safe alternatives to traditional cars. It is a shame the Volt incidents likely misguided consumers and potentially impacted the short-term adoption rate for this promising new technology.”

In December, Consumer Reports announced that the Volt had topped all cars in customer satisfaction, with a 93-percent rating, and the magazine gave the volt a highly positive review upon the car’s release last year.


  • Van

    Limited EV range is a valid concern, the first generation of EV’s fall short of a comfortable range, say 150 miles. Hybrids like the Volt and Prius PHV overcome the limited range with a range extender gasoline burning engine. Once EV’s come with about 42 Kwh of battery capacity, the range anxiety is will fade as more and more level 3 charging stations are installed.

    The fire risk during charging is valid because at high current flows, a damaged cord used for charging could overheat and start a fire. Time will tell if the risk results in fire frequency to be of concern. Perhaps when the EV is serviced, the charging cord would be tested and inspected and replaced as necessary.

    As far as silent running, I expect the digital proximity alarms will address this issue.

    Crash protect for the battery had to be beefed up in the Volt due to side impact. I expect further refinements in design will occur as a result of on road experience. This happened with gas tank design and placement issues as well.

    Post crash fire risk also is a valid concern, time will tell if high energy storage batteries are safe to be smashed.

    Cars have had high voltage systems within their confines for years, i.e. ignition system, but the size and scope of the high voltage system in EV’s might produce a higher shock hazard, especially post crash. Time will tell.

    Accident avoidance appears to be a non-issue unless, an EV could handle very well.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I find that the general public is generally misinformed about a lot of things when it comes to EV’s, hybrids and plug-in’s.

  • CharlesF

    Unfortunately the Volt is more political football than car. Maybe that should be more tar and feathers than car. The GOP has tied the Volt to Obama. Obama can do nothing right, so the Volt must be a huge mistake.

    Even PolitiFact gave a half true rating to: “Jim Jordan says subsidy for the Volt averages out to as much as $250,000 a car”

    It should have been mostly false by their own standards, not half true. Mostly false is given to statements that have a grain of truth, but as presented give the impression of something else. For one the figures used to come up with the figure take all of the tax refund money that is allocated for 200,000 cars and divides it by the 6,000 sold at the time. It also includes funds given to battery manufactures (some that do not even supply batteries for the Volt) and assumes that all of that went to the Volt.

    The statement that GM is the largest car seller in the world was also given half true, because it counted GM’s subsidiaries in China. Not sure if Toyota got credit for the China subsidiaries.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I’m sure when gas powered cars came out the same fears existed…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Used Cars Louisville Guy 29

    The Volt, I think,did get a bad rap when it caught fire. What were the circumstances that led to it? If I remember right the fire was caused by coolant. Well it’s still new technology and there are bugs to be worked out. Unfortunately you can’t think of every scenario that might happen and can only improve on what is known.

  • CharlesF

    The recipe for Volt fires:
    1) Total the car in a side collision
    2) Rotate the car (one that has a 5 star roll over rating)
    3) Do not discharge the battery
    4) Let sit for 3 days or more
    And it may catch on fire. In other words the congressional hearings are pure anti-Obama propaganda. Anybody that gets hurt along the way is just collateral damage.

  • Alcia

    I find that the general public is generally misinformed about a lot of things when it comes to EV’s, hybrids and plug-in’s.

  • ehe

    on google

  • George Parrott

    During the latest period I could find statistical information on relative to “car fires,” between 2003 and 2007 there were an AVERAGE of over 280,000 car fires per year or more than 31 per HOUR. None of those appeared to be from EVs,by the way. 480 people per year were killed in such car fires on average.

    Gasoline (and diesel) is a highly flammable substance…more more so than the charge contained in an EV battery, or so hard statistical data seem to suggest.

    Just yesterday here in Sacramento, three passersby received recognition from the police as “heros,” for they drug a couple of people out of a single car accident….just before the vehicle caught on fire! Apparently there will be no “political investigation” by our right-wing bigots on this “car fire” for such fires with conventional fuel vehicles are….NORMAL.

  • Tim Eum

    I doubt the negative governmental actions are because of republicans. Rather the overregualtion and the inspect everything oversight that Democrats love is probably more responsible for the slowing down the innovation of business than anything else. Who runs the auto inspection agency that investigated the Volt anyway — isn’t this run by an Obama appointee?

  • CharlesF

    Tim Eum, are you being sarcastic or are you that uninvolved?

  • MarkWbrooks

    A solid review of consumers concerns, each addressable in its time. The bottom line is that the volt has just kicked the door open for electric driving, and Gm, Nissan, BMW and every other major car brand are now rushing forward racing to find the right mix between new tech and price point. It time to cut the big oil lobby off at the knees by pulling the billions in yearly tax payer give aways to the drill baby drill oil companies and let the free market drive us into an electric future!

  • Jona

    Some organizations have begun to avoid the term accident. Although auto collisions are rare in terms of the number of vehicles on the road and the distance they travel, addressing the contributing factors can reduce their likelihood. semi truck accident attorney