NHTSA’s fire-risk probe of Chevrolet Volt had impact on January sales

Article by Anita Panait, on February 2, 2012

General Motors only sold 603 units of Chevrolet Volt in January – attributed mainly to the negative publicity brought by the recently concluded investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The January figure was only half of the average monthly sales of 1,259 units in the October-December 2011 period.

This figure was also the worst since GM sold only 302 Volts in August 2011.

GM North America President Mark Reuss said it will take time for the plug-in hybrid sales to recover from the effect of the two-month probe by the NHTSA into the potential fire risk in the Volt’s battery pack. The agency commenced the investigation in late November 2011, after three Volt battery packs emitted sparks or caught fire days or weeks after the plug-in hybrids were subjected to government test crashes.

The NHTSA closed the probe on January 20, concluding that the battery pack poses no significant fire risk.

GM didn’t produce any Volt at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly site in January as it has yet to receive parts that would reinforce the steel protecting the battery pack to prevent post-crash fires.

GM spokesman Jim Cain said production will resume thus month as soon as parts arrive. Dealers have also been refusing to receive Volts deliveries for fear that they could not sell it due to low demand.

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