GM Plans to Accommodate Concerned Chevy Volt Owners, Not Launching Official Buyback Program

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While GM does want to qualm any fears that its Chevrolet Volt electric car may catch fire after a crash, the company doesn’t have plans to launch an official buyback campaign for customers. Chevrolet will, however, offer other GM cars as free loaner vehicles to any Volt owner worried the electric car might catch fire.

The Detroit News and other outlets reported that GM would offer to buy back many of the Chevrolet Volts sold so far. A GM spokesman, however, told us that was a misinterpretation of CEO Dan Akerson’s comments. Akerson said that GM would “consider” purchasing a customer’s Volt if that customer felt unsafe driving it and specifically complained to GM. Even so, there are no specific plans in place for a widespread buy-back program. GM also does not plan to issue a recall or stop-sale notice on the Volt at this time.

Akerson’s comments reflected GM’s goal of easing any concerns Volt owners have about fire risks. To that end, the company will give owners a free loaner car (any GM vehicle other than the Volt) while the electric car’s battery pack is investigated. Only about 33 customers have asked to swap their Volt for a loaner car -- a tiny number, given that Chevrolet has sold 6468 examples of the Volt since fall 2010.

GM announced last week that it was working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine whether the lithium-ion batteries in the Chevrolet Volt posed a fire risk. Several Volts damaged in government crash tests later caught fire or emitted sparks from the battery pack, prompting the investigation.

GM and NHTSA haven’t yet determined what might cause the Volt’s battery pack to catch fire after crashes. CEO Akerson said in an interview with Reuters yesterday that the company might consider redesigning the battery pack, as one report suggests a damaged coolant line caused the battery to overheat.

Sources: The Detroit News, GM

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