NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

General Motors Willing to Buy Back Volts

December 5, 2011

General Motors (GM) will buy Chevrolet Volts back from any owner who is afraid the electric cars will catch fire, the company's CEO said Thursday, reports the Associated Press.

  • GM CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said the company will purchase the Volts because it wants to keep customers happy.
  • Three fires have broken out in Volts after side-impact crash tests done by the federal government.
  • Akerson said that if necessary, GM will recall the more than 6,000 Volts now on the road in the United States and repair them once the company and federal safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.

The fires happened seven days to three weeks after tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  GM has said there's no threat of fires immediately after crashes and that no Volts involved in real-world crashes have caught fire.

Still, NHTSA has opened an investigation into the fires and has asked other companies that make electric cars for battery testing data.  NHTSA said the safety testing hasn't raised concerns about electric vehicles other than the Volt.

  • The Nissan Leaf, a fully electric car and the Volt's main competitor, has not had any similar fires after crash tests or real-world crashes.
  • The Leaf battery is cooled by air rather than a liquid used to cool the Volt battery.

Source: Tom Krisher, "GM Willing to Buy Back Volts," Associated Press, December 1, 2011.


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