Just as federal regulators have ended their investigation into a battery fire, General Motors Co. is focusing on fixing the reputation of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in vehicle. On Wednesday, a panel of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform committee will listen to the testimonies of GM CEO Dan Akerson and David Strickland, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The panel wants to know what their response is to a Volt catching fire on June 6 three weeks after it was subjected to crash tests. NHTSA ended its probe last week as it concluded that electric vehicles are not more likely to catch fire than other models.
An auto analyst -- Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates, an automobile-industry analysis company in Michigan -- said that GM would need to repair the image of the Volt. He also said other automakers that offer electric vehicles would have to overcome more obstacles in order to boost sales. He compares it to a report of a person committing murder but the news is retracted the next day with just an apology.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said that the decision of the NHTSA to shut down its investigation was made according to the results of its internal testing and assessment. The NHTSA started to investigate the Volt on Nov. 25, over 5 months after the incident of the tested Volt catching fire after the tests. Government and GM investigators determined that the fire started when the battery coolant leaked in relation to the simulated rollover crash.
Volt’s first-year sales suffered after the fire became known. Even Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf felt the impact of the allegations. These cars are the first electric vehicles offered to the mass market after President Barack Obama established a target of 1 million electric vehicles being on U.S. roads by 2015.
The Chevrolet Volt has a sleek, bold, sleek, and performance-oriented stance that expresses its electrically driven capabilities. It also looks like a high-end, midsize sport sedan, thanks to its wide 61.2-inch front tracks, its 62.1-inch rear tracks, its 105.7-inch wheelbase, its wheels-out stance, its sculpted belt line, and its premium execution.
Bob Boniface, Director of Design at Chevrolet, says that the Volt is a revolutionary vehicle and that they wanted the design to make a sleek and dynamic statement. According to him, the car looks very technical, is refined in execution and characterized by interrelating surfaces that bring crisp and clean creases and edges.
The design and engineering teams worked closely with aerodynamicists in the company’s own wind tunnel in order to shape the Volt and to develop the most aerodynamic Chevrolet vehicle in the history of the brand. The Volt’s aerodynamicists reduced the amount of energy required to overcome air resistance, thus contributing to an electric range of about eight miles and an extended range of 50 miles.
Moreover, the Volt has a rounded, flush front fascia, as well as tapered corners and grille that enable air to flow easily around the car, thereby reducing drag. Sharp edges as well as a carefully designed spoiler control the air flow in the rear. Meanwhile, an aggressive rake on both the windshield and the back glass helps reduce drag and turbulence.
Whether inside or outside, the Volt’s element-to-element gap and its flush relationships are just as good – or are even better – as those of any other vehicle in the segment. Even all components of the car’s underhood compartment have met high standards of appearance that harmonize with the rest of the car using the same colors and grained surfaces.
The car’s rear liftgate appliqué in distinctive gloss black finish carries the signature Chevrolet bowtie and of the two Volt insignias (the other insignia can be found on the car’s forward quarter panel). You can choose from six available exterior colors: Viridian Joule Tricoat, Crystal Red Metallic Tintcoat, Silver Ice Metallic, White Diamond Tricoat, Black Metallic, and Cyber Gray Metallic.
Meanwhile, the premium five-door sedan’s interior has the signature Chevrolet dual cockpit design. It also offers comfort, space, convenience, and safety features, including 40/40 rear-folding seats and storage compartments. You can also choose from a variety of interior colors, as well as lighting and trim options.