Tags: akerson | volt | fire | hybrid | sales

GM’s Akerson: The Truth About the Volt Fire

Tuesday, 01 May 2012 05:50 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Politics are playing a role in criticism of General Motors’ plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Volt, according to GM’s Chairman Daniel Akerson.

Much of the criticism has come from critics of the auto industry bailout, and focuses on reports that a Volt caught fire following a crash test.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report in December 2011 citing the fire generated such huge press coverage that GM offered to buy back Volts from any owner who feared the potential for a fire.

An adamant proponent of the hybrid, Akerson set the record straight with Newsmax.TV on what exactly happened in the Volt “fire.”

“I drive one of them,” he says. “Zero emissions. I’ve now put 3,000 miles on my car. I’ve used one gallon of gas.”

As for criticism of the Volt, Akerson says: “It’s funny to me. I don’t have the luxury of seeing the world through a political prism. If you watch NBC they say it’s the greatest car ever made. You watch Fox, they say it’s the worst car ever made, and they say there have been explosions and fires. Let me give you a few facts: There’s never been a fire in a Volt. Never.

“When we tested it we purposely hit it, rolled it, and we did not discharge the battery. If you have a combustion-engine car that has an accident, after the first responders extricate you from your car, they drain the gas tank and they disconnect the 12-volt battery. Well, when we did this the car was totaled. We didn’t discharge the battery, which is first responder protocol. We put it in a junkyard, and three weeks later there was a smoldering fire. No explosion. No nothing.

“We’ve got over six million miles on these cars today and not one fire. There are 150,000 car fires a year in the United States with combustion engines. You have two to 10 or 15 minutes to get out of the car. In this instance you didn’t have three minutes, three hours, three days, you had three weeks to get out of the car.

“We then tested it eight more times. We couldn’t replicate that. If you were in the physics lab and you have nine experiments and you got one over here and eight over here, you’d say there was something wrong with the test procedure.”

The Volt, he adds, “has won every award worldwide. European Car of the Year. Five-star safety car.

“It’s been caught up in this political vortex. Copernicus said the universe didn’t revolve around the earth. He was a heretic. People saw his pronouncements, because they were new and different, through the prism that was theological. I guess today’s theology is politics. Base it on the facts and you’ll find this car is one of the safest cars on the road.

“So when people complain about five-dollar gas, I say buy a Volt.”

See other exclusive excerpts from the Daniel Akerson interview:

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