When General Motors Co. revealed in June 2008 its plans to manufacture the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, executives said that it was a "moon shot" intended to outperform Toyota Motor Corp. in technology leadership. Now, the vehicle has become the subject of a U.S. investigation after the fires that stemmed from its lithium-ion batteries a week after three crash tests.
On Monday, GM offered loaner vehicles to concerned purchasers, stating that its engineers will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to identify the cause as well as a way to fix it.
While engineers deal with the safety issues, the company is scurrying to make sure that the Volt's public image is not adversely affected. The vehicle was dreamed up under now-retired Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to beat the technology and environmental applause that Toyota received for its Prius hybrid.
According to CEO Jeremy Anwyl of Edmunds.com, the automaker did not introduce the Volt due to its commercial success, but because of its "can-do" motto -- their counter to the Prius.
"They will do everything they can to make sure people don't draw negative conclusions," Anwyl added. The probe in the Volt has the possibility to harm the image of electrified automobiles. Lithium-ion batteries, like those fitted in the Volt, are also installed in all-electric vehicles. The U.S. and California regulators as well as the automakers are relying on the increased use of electric power to comply with the strict standards on U.S. fuel-efficiency.