Tag Archive | "Chevrolet Volt"

Kelley Blue Book Names 10 Best Green Cars of 2013

Irvine, Calif. — Kelley Blue Book named the 10 Best Green Cars of 2013 on its website, www.kbb.com.

The No. 1 green car was the 2013 Nissan Leaf. Nissan reduced the Leaf’s starting price by $6,000 for 2013, meaning that after the $7,500 federal tax savings, drivers can go all-electric for about $22,000. Rounding out the top five were the 2013 Tesla Model S, 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Chevrolet Volt and the 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in.

“A growing number of both eco-conscious drivers are going ‘green’ when it comes to the new car they choose to drive, and auto manufacturers have primed the pump with the widest array of offerings in the green car segment than ever before,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.

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GM Reportedly Halting Chevy Volt Production To Pare Down Excess Inventory

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – Reports have abounded in the last week that GM is temporarily halting production of it’s Chevrolet Volt line in the plant here. The reports, first published in Automotive News, note that sources have said the shut down will be from Mid-September until Mid-October, and will both allow GM to bring the supply of the Volt in-line with current demand. At the same time, the plant will also temporarily stop production of the Chevrolet Malibu as well.

According to widely circulated reports, during the shut-down, the 1,200 workers will be given unemployment compensation for the period, which will amount to roughly 90% of their usual pay.

GM has struggled to match production of the Volt to consumer demand, selling 13,000 so far this year. Dealers are reporting enough inventory to last 84 days at the current sales pace, which explains the temporary halt in production. The Volt uses a lithium-ion battery for the bulk of it’s power, with a small gasoline engine for times when the battery runs low. It retails for $40,000.

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Sales of Battery-Powered GM Volt Gain

DETROIT— General Motors Co. sold 1,529 battery-powered Chevrolet Volt cars last month, a 34 percent increase from November, amid a U.S. investigation into whether the car’s battery poses a fire risk.

More than one-third of those sales were to corporate fleets; a larger proportion than in previous months when about 10 percent of Volts were bought by corporate and other fleet customers. GM said last month was the first time the company had enough supply to fill orders from corporate buyers, which pay the same price as retail buyers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The auto maker, worried that the investigation could hurt sales of its high-stakes car, is watching Volt sales closely as it pushes for a resolution to questions a from federal safety regulators about whether the battery could catch fire following a severe crash.

“There has been uncertainty in the market, but we believe that uncertainty will go away,” said Alan Batey, vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet. He said sales will rise as more of the vehicles becomes available.

GM missed its target of 10,000 sales for 2011, the Volt’s inaugural year, by about 2,300 sales. The auto maker says a supply shortages hampered sales and the company has adjusted the way it allocates cars to dealers in an effort to make sure cars are going to the places where demand is highest.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started an investigation into the Volt’s lithium-ion battery pack in November after three of the batteries sparked or caught fire days or weeks after being severely damaged in crash tests. GM has said a coolant leak is behind the problem and it is working on a fix.

The auto maker is targeting 45,000 U.S. Volt sales in 2012. It also plans to export 15,000 of the Detroit-built cars to Europe.

Nissan Motor Co. sold 954 Leaf electric cars in December, bringing its annual tally to 9,674.

GM on Wednesday said its December U.S. auto sales rose 4.6 percent, to 234,351, from a year ago. Full-year sales increased 13 percent to 2.5 million.

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U.S. Regulators Examine Welds in Chevrolet Volt Fires

DETROIT – U.S. safety regulators are combing over five Chevrolet Volts to determine whether welded parts near the 400-pound battery contributed to fires that occurred following government crash tests.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a memo on its website, said it wants to know if crashes caused changes in welded areas on the underside of the vehicle, where the battery rests, reported The Wall Street Journal.

NHTSA asked its test center to take pictures of the vehicle’s “floorplan/crossmember near the battery tunnel,” and asked that the work be done “at the “earliest opportunity.”

General Motors Co. is working with NHTSA to address the issue that caused sparks or fires in three battery packs following crash tests by the agency.

GM engineers believe they can fix the battery and retrofit cars already on the road without an extensive redesign, people familiar with the situation said.

The company says a damaged coolant line is behind the problem.

In the crash tests, a break in the coolant line caused coolant to leak onto wiring in the battery. After time, the coolant crystallized, causing a short.

GM has said repeatedly that the cars are safe. NHTSA said Volt owners shouldn’t worry. No incidents have been reported in real-world driving and the NHTSA fires happened after weeks or days.

Whether GM’s fix is as straightforward as the company believes it to be will depend of NHTSA’s determination of the risk involved in the cars.

If NHTSA determines the Volt presents “a serious risk of injury” it would trigger a process that would lead to a recall, according to the agency’s guidelines.

If not, GM gets to decide what course of action it will take and would not typically require approval from NHTSA.

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House Panel to Probe Volt

WASHINGTON — A House panel will hold a hearing next month on the Chevrolet Volt and the Obama administration’s investigation into fire risks in the extended-range electric vehicle.

The announcement came as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday he believes the Volt is safe. He denied that the government withheld news of a fire in a crash-test vehicle to protect Detroit-based General Motors Co, reported The Detroit News.

“I believe the Volt is safe to drive,” LaHood told reporters after testifying before lawmakers on an unrelated matter.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday that one of its panels plans to hold a hearing in late January on the Volt battery issue, according to committee spokesman Jeff Solsby.

The hearing by the committee’s panel on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending also will look at the government’s investigation into fire risks.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the subcommittee panel, said he wanted to know if the government had been candid about its investigation into the Volt.

“It gives us great concern that recent reports indicate important safety information may have been omitted in testimony before our committee just a few weeks ago,” Jordan said in a statement. “This is a serious situation that our committee will look further into.”

The committee held a hearing on fuel economy standards and heard from officials of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Questions weren’t asked about safety problems with the Volt.

GM spokesman Greg Martin had no comment on the hearing.

Conservative commentators have sharply criticized the Volt and the government’s investigation, asserting the Obama administration was trying to protect GM. As part of a $49.5 billion bailout, the Treasury still holds a 26.5 percent stake in GM.

LaHood said the government wasn’t trying to protect GM by not immediately disclosing a fire in a crash-tested Volt.

“We’re not in the business of protecting the auto industry. We’re in the business of making sure cars are safe,” LaHood said.

Last month, NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into the extended-range electric vehicle for fire risks after two fires in Volt battery packs.

One fire happened on Thanksgiving, seven days after a battery pack was crash-tested.

The first was in early June, three weeks after a May 12 NHTSA Chevrolet Volt crash test in Wisconsin.

The blaze burned three other cars. NHTSA didn’t disclose the initial fire — or the fact it had sent letters to automakers asking questions about battery electric vehicles — until early November, when Bloomberg News reported the incident.

NHTSA hasn’t asked GM to stop selling the Volt. It has no reports of real-world fires or complaints.

GM has offered loaner vehicles and has agreed to buy back cars.

General Motors is working on upgrades to the Volt battery containment system to prevent a fire from occurring days after a crash.

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G.M. Offers to Buy Back Hybrid Volts From Owners

DETROIT — In a rare move, General Motors said Thursday that it would buy back Chevrolet Volts if owners were concerned about fire risks. It also promised to comply with any changes to its battery pack recommended by federal regulators.

In an interview with The Associated Press, G.M.’s chief executive, Daniel F. Akerson, defended the safety of the plug-in hybrid vehicle but said the automaker would purchase Volts from unsatisfied customers, reported The New York Times.

A G.M. spokesman, Rob Peterson, confirmed the buyback offer. “If there’s a customer that wants to sell back their Volt, we’ll buy it back from them,” Mr. Peterson said.

Such a buyback is unusual for car companies, which typically institute recalls when regulators or customers report problems with cars or parts. Ford, however, offered to buy back older model Windstar vans last year after investigations into rear axle problems.

The Volt has come under scrutiny after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said on Nov. 25 that it had opened a defect investigation into the car’s 400-pound battery pack.

The company on Monday offered free loaner cars to all Volt owners while a federal investigation continued into the potential for postcrash fires in the car’s lithium-ion battery.

Two Volt batteries caught on fire after crash simulations, the agency said. One fire occurred three weeks after the battery was damaged, and a more recent test resulted in a fire one week later. Another pack emitted smoke and a spark in the aftermath of a crash test.

In a separate interview with Reuters, Mr. Akerson said that G.M. would make changes to the Volt’s battery pack if they were recommended by federal officials.

Mr. Peterson said the company would alter the packs “if there’s an engineering solution required.”

Some Volt owners are not concerned about the inquiry. “It just has to be treated carefully in the event of a crash. I really am not worried,” Eric Rotbard, a Volt owner who is a lawyer in White Plains, said in an interview on Monday. “We just have to get more comfortable with the technology. It doesn’t seem to be any less safe to me.”

The latest developments came the same day that G.M. reported that November was the best month for Volt sales since the car was introduced late last year.

G.M. said it sold 1,139 Volts in November, bringing the year’s total to 6,142.

However, the company acknowledged for the first time that it would not achieve its target of selling 10,000 Volts this year, even after allowing dealers to sell demonstration models last month to increase inventory.

The head of G.M.’s Chevrolet division, Alan Batey, said that missing the sales target did not diminish the car’s positive effect on the brand.

“This vehicle is more than just how many do we sell every month,” Mr. Batey said in a conference call with reporters. “It is a magnet around everything we’re trying to do to showcase the brand.”

The Volt was the industry’s top-scoring model in this year’s Consumer Reports customer-satisfaction survey, the publication said Thursday, with 93 percent of owners saying they would buy one again.

G.M. executives have repeatedly defended the safety of the Volt since the federal inquiry opened, noting that there have been no reports of fires in real-world crashes.

The company has asserted that the bigger issue is how the lithium-ion battery is handled by emergency personnel and maintenance technicians after an accident.

G.M.’s product development chief, Mary Barra, said Monday that the car’s battery should be depowered immediately after a collision to avoid any possibility of a fire.

“This is not a conventional automobile,” said Joseph Phillippi, an industry analyst with the firm Auto Trends. “We are talking about high-voltage batteries, and they need special treatment.”

So far, 33 Volt owners have requested a loaner vehicle since the offer was made, and 230 people have contacted their dealers with questions, Mr. Batey said.

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