General Motors just announced that it will buy back Chevy Volts from concerned customers. The move, meant to ensure customer satisfaction, follows a government investigation of two post-crash tests conducted over concerns that the Volt’s battery can burst into flames under certain conditions.
GM CEO Dan Akerson told the Associated Press that GM will repurchase a Volt at owner request, but did not announce an official buyback program, according to the Detroit Free Press. GM also offered loaner cars to Volt owners worried about their cars’ safety. The Chevy Volt is a lithium-ion-powered hybrid car powered with an onboard electric motor that powers the car when the battery charge runs low, explained NewsInferno.
About 6,400 people own Volts and 33 requested a loaner, which is, said GM spokesman, Greg Martin, “A microfraction” of the owner group. Of an official buyback program, Martin said, “We are considering it,” reported the Free Press.
NewsInferno wrote that two instances of Chevy Volt battery fires took place after the cars sat idle for at least one week. Both cars had previously been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which prompted its official Volt investigation. To date, fires have not been reported by Volt owners.
The crash tests punctured the Volts’ batteries; leaking battery coolant is believed to be the culprit in the fires that took place in both undrained batteries, said the Free Press.
Lithium ion batteries are used in all-electric cars, including the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster, said NewsInferno. Nissan Leaf pure-electric cars have not suffered battery fires, to date, following crash tests; however, the Free Press noted that the Leaf’s battery is air-cooled and constructed with a steel cover, unlike the Volt’s battery. The Volt runs on its battery for about 35 miles before switching to its gasoline generator, whereas the Leaf runs fully on batteries, with a 70-mile range between charges, explained the Free Press.
GM said the only way it would issue a recall of the Chevy Volt is if the NHTSA deems a recall necessary, but said it would send a technician to drain the battery of any Chevy Volt involved in a crash, said the Free Press. GM also said it is looking into altering the Volt’s battery design, but does not plan on switching from its liquid-cooled battery, which, allows the car to perform better in colder temperatures.
The repurchase announcement was made the same day that Consumer Reports released a survey that named Volt owners the most satisfied of all car owners, said the Free Press. But, that survey was conducted prior to the government initiating its investigation the prior week.