U.S. dealers order fewer Chevrolet Volts amid NHTSA probe on battery fire

Article by Anita Panait, on January 24, 2012

The dealer demand for the Chevrolet Volt has been waning, as General Motors struggled to market the plug-in hybrid. Rob Peterson, a spokesman for GM, confirmed that "dealer ordering is down" for the Volt, as dealers were awaiting the resolution of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's probe into the risk of the hybrid's battery pack catching fire.

The investigation came after three packs caught fire days or weeks after the government conducted test crashes on the Volt. GM already announced a voluntary repair with aim of protecting the battery pack. NHTSA said last week it has closed the investigation, concluding that the battery pack poses no significant fire risk.

Though the probe is closed, Peterson said dealers are still waiting for things to settle down. "There's a lot of misinformation that has swirled over the past month," Peterson said.

In New York, GM wanted its 14 dealership to receive 104 Volts but dealers only took just 31 units, a source privy with matter said, noting the same dealers ordered 90%  of other vehicles they were allowed to take. In California, Brett Hedrick turned down all six Volts allocated to him in December 2011 and January 2012, after selling only 10 units in the January-November period. 

GM uses the "turn-and-earn" system, under which the company allocates vehicles to dealers according on their past sales volumes and inventory levels. Hedrick, however, said that the system was crazy, as his dealership never sold more than two Volts in a month.

The Voltec propulsion system uses both the engine and pure electric drive allowing the Chevrolet Volt to go for up to 350 miles.

The battery is composed of the lithium ion battery pack that is made in Brownstown Township, Michigan. The 16-kWh T-shaped battery pack weighs 435 pounds and supplies the 149 horsepower electric drive unit the energy it needs to go for up to 50 miles. That is 50 miles of no emissions and no fuel used.

Chevrolet Volt battery gives users the highest standards of safety, value, performance, quality, reliability, and durability. The car brand is very confident with the battery that it gives users a 100,000-mile or 8-year warranty. GM engineers have conducted at least a million miles and 4 million hours of validation testing on these Volt battery packs since 2007. That includes the pack’s nine modules and hundreds of prismatic cells. As a result, the validation, test, and development teams were able to satisfy thousands of specifications, as well as validating the battery’s more than 160 parts. Around 95% of these components were engineered and designed by GM.

GM executive director for global electrical systems Micky Bly said that their customers have been looking for technology that will help them cut their reliance on petroleum, and the Volt is their answer to this demand, with its top-notch value, quality, safety, reliability and performance.

As the battery juice runs out, the Volt will switch to extended-range mode. Power will be derived from the electric drive unit instead of the 1.4L gasoline-powered onboard engine. This switch will give you 310 miles more.

The Volt provides evidence that electric cars can also be spirited, with top speed of 100 miles per hour and torque of 273 lb.-ft at low speeds. The Volt can easily accelerate from standing still to 60 miles per hour in 9 seconds or less.

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