Top 10 Automotive News Stories of 2011

Top 10 Automotive News Stories of 2011

3. Chevy Volt Safety Concerns

General Motors has undoubtedly turned a corner since emerging from bankruptcy debt free and the automaker is looking to rebrand itself with a lot of help from one car, the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt represents all the good qualities that GM wants to convey, including the automaker’s history of innovation, as well as a more environmentally friendly focus for the future.

Now suppose something with that all-important car were to go wrong? Like, Ford Pinto wrong. Well, that’s exactly what happened. Early in the year there were two highly publicized cases of Volts burning to the ground. The problem is, the cars were in garages with other vehicles, equipment and sometimes even flammable materials. And besides, who’s to say it wasn’t the charging system and not the car that started the fire anyway. Further investigation revealed that the Volts in question were not to blame, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was already on the case.

NHTSA crash tested the Volt back in June, and three weeks later the car in question went up in flames. What really made the story headline news were allegations that not only had GM held back this information, but NHTSA did as well, not announcing it until November.

With a great deal of uncertainly surrounding this new technology and a lot of politics (after all, GM was, for a time, government owned), Chevy offered to do whatever it could, from buying back cars to offering loaners. Further testing by NHTSA was done and a possible culprit seen as a coolant leak from the car’s lithium-ion battery back. NHTSA has promised further investigation and we can be sure that while the Chevy Volt Fire story started in 2011, it’s not going to end there.

The underlying story, however, is much larger, as a failed Volt could send General Motors spiraling into disaster. GM isn’t just counting on the Volt to rebrand the American auto giant, it has bet on the technology behind the car as the future of transportation, focusing much of its R&D in that direction.

  • Chris Van Auken

    First off, if GM (giant mess, God’s mistake, take your pick) is looking at the volt to rescue them, they are in worse trouble than we thought. The sales of the volt are dismal, and is selling them to government agencies mostly. And we know how efficiant governments are. It is not Pinto wrong. It is worse. Pinto’s could leak fuel which was a hazard no doubt. These things catch fire long after an accident. Talk about a time bomb. GM still owes the government most of the money they took. It is still owned by the federal government as far as I am concerned.

  • Steve

    I know why don’t you just slate General Motors. Talk about taking the easy way out.
    GM are a world wide automaker, the Volt needs to be a success. Did you report on why the Volt supposedly catches fire? Did you ask someone at GM for an interview to put the questions to them?
    Why did you not try to put any positive input in your article at all?
    You would need to be a proper journalist to do that I would imagine.
    You owe it to your home auto industry to do your job to your best ability, i would bet it pays your wages. It is easy to take a swipe at GM, no one is going to call round to you home and smack you in the face are they? I would like to!
    why not speak to someone at GM?

  • Jannis

    Get with it. The Volt is only being offered in 7 U.S. cteiis the 1st year. A 50% production increase for 2012 by adding the rest of the nation is not much of an expectation. Nice spin job GM.

  • brimoind

    Typical Jannis, you see a story  and pick out one thing to comment on and that is to show your negativity to General Motoprs nothing else! Great job, keep it up you will all be buying chineese cars soon enough, except that your economy will be in such a mess that most Americans will not be able to afford a car!
    Get with it and support the USA fool.
    By the way i am not American, i do not know anyone personally who is American and i have never been to America. I do know that there are an awful; lot of Americans who seem to support anything other than what they make locally though, a reason?
    It’s still your call, you are the superpower, for the moment anyway!