GM CEO Dan Akerson to testify in probe over Chevrolet Volt fire

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 19, 2012

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has agreed to testify next week in front of a U.S. House panel related to the investigation of safety regulators regarding the Chevrolet Volt fire risks, GM spokesperson Greg Martin told The Detroit News. This will be his first testimony on Capitol Hill since he became CEO in September 2010. 

Headed by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is also expected to hear from David Strickland, who is the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The hearing is set for January 25, 2012, and is entitled "Volt Vehicle Fire: What did NHTSA know and when did they know it?" NHTSA opened an investigation in November into the fire risk of the Volt. In June, three weeks after an NHTSA crash test, one battery pack caught fire. Two more units caught fire in November, which are at least a few days after NHTSA crash tests.

This month, GM offered a voluntary modification aimed at preventing the battery pack of the Chevrolet Volt from catching fire after a severe crash -- a huge leap toward sidestepping a possible damage to the image of the halo vehicle.

GM is requesting its 8,000 Volt clients to bring the plug-in hybrid to their Chevy dealership in order to have the steel surrounding the battery pack reinforce, preventing it from being punctured during a crash. It also will add a sensor to the battery pack so that coolant leaks are monitored.

The dynamic yet sleek performance-oriented styling of the Chevrolet Volt easily reveals more than what meets the eye. Bob Boniface, director of design, even adds that in combination with its technicalities, the Chevrolet Volt is refined in a way where interrelating surfaces coexist in harmony to bring out clean, crisp edges and creases.

With electrically driven capabilities, this upscale, midsize sport sedan looking vehicle is supported by wide 61.2-inch (1,556 mm) front and 62.1-inch (1,578 mm) rear tracks, a 105.7-inch (2,685 mm) wheelbase, wheels-out stance, a sculpted belt line and premium execution.

The Chevrolet Volt is by far the most aerodynamic vehicle in the company’s history. Developed in GM’s own wind tunnel, aerodynamicists, design and engineering teams worked on reducing the amount of energy required to overcome air resistance. As a bonus, approximately eight miles of electric range and an additional 50 miles of extended range were contributed by its aerodynamicists.

To help ease air movement around the car and reduce drag, the Volt is designed with rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille. The rear portion on the other hand is designed to have sharper edges and a carefully designed spoiler – both functioning to control airflow. Moreover, to help reduce turbulence and drag, the windshield and back glass is fitted with an aggressive rake.

The interior and exterior are designed so that element-to-element gap and flush relationships on the Volt are improved and upgraded in comparison to other vehicles in the same segment. All areas are covered including the underhood compartment. Each component uses the same grained surfaces and colors, and strictly adheres to the highest standard of appearance so that it blends well with the rest of the car.

The signature Chevrolet bowtie and one of two Volt insignias are carefully situated on a distinctive, gloss black rear liftgate applique, while the other insignia is found on the forward quarter panel. The Chevrolet Volt is offered in six colors – Silver Ice Metallic, Black and Cyber Gray Metallic, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat, White Diamond Tricoat, and the 2009 national contest winning name, the Viridian Joule Tricoat.

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