2011 Chevrolet Volt: A Federal Case?
January 18, 2012
Here's an incendiary name for a congressional hearing: "Volt Vehicle Fire: What did NHTSA know and when did they know it?"
That's the topic on the docket for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Jan. 25. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif) also has grilled NHTSA over CAFE standards and Toyota's unintended acceleration incidents.
In this case, Issa says that politics were involved when NHTSA didn't publicly disclose until Nov. 12 that a Chevrolet Volt caught fire while it was stored in a garage at a NHTSA testing center. The fire broke out three weeks after a side-impact crash test in May. GM has made adjustments to the Volt's battery, but NHTSA says its investigation is ongoing.
In an interview with Fox Business Tuesday, Issa called the Volt a "fiery failure" that GM was "coerced" into building because it was a recipient of a federal bailout. He said GM CEO Daniel F. Akerson will testify at the hearing next week.
"Here is one of the big points. This may have been a bridge too far, too quick for General Motors," Issa said in the interview. "If you push a company to make a show car, and you push them from Washington, you're almost inviting these problems and then if in fact you ignore the problems, you invite fires and disasters."
Issa says his committee wants GM -- and all automakers -- to put safety first.
Take a look at the 4-minute Fox Business interview and let us know what you think -- were politics built into the Volt?
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor