Dan Akerson gets ready to defend Volt before US House Committee

Article by Anita Panait, on January 25, 2012

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson will appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to testify for the Chevrolet Volt. In a five-page copy of his testimony, Akerson said the Volt has received "a disproportionate level of scrutiny" by critics of the company and the Obama administration. GM’s CEO insists the Volt is safe despite a recently closed probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a possible risk of fire in the car’s battery pack.

 He noted that the Volt is a technical showcase for GM and "establishes a beachhead in the electric car segment for future profits in sales." He, however, mourns that because the Volt was rolled out in the wake of GM's government bailout and during a tense political season, it has become a political lightning rod.

Akerson said that it’s unfair for the Volt to be treated as “a surrogate for some to offer broader commentary on General Motors' business prospects and administration policy." He concluded that these might be the reasons why federal regulators opened a probe into the Volt's battery safety.

NHTSA commenced a probe in November 2011 into the Volt’s battery pack after two incidents wherein the pack caught fire or emitted sparks in the days or weeks after the crash tests. The car’s battery also caught fire in June, three weeks after the NHTSA finished side-impact testing.

The agency recently closed the probe, concluding that the Volt or other electric cars pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. The agency said it believes that a modification to reinforce the Volt's battery pack will make the car safer.

Voltec propulsion system forms the heart of the Chevrolet Volt. This system mixes a purely electric drive with a range extending and fuel efficient engine. This helps the Chevrolet Volt reach 350 miles.

Volt's long lasting battery measures 5.5-foot and weighs 435 pounds. The T-shaped battery pack provides 16 kWh and is made in Brownstown Township in Michigan. The lithium-ion battery supplies energy to the 149-horsepower electric drive unit. Using only the battery, you can go anywhere from 25 miles to 50 miles depending on the driving techniques, temperature and the terrain.

The battery is designed to give you utmost quality, value, performance, safety, reliability and durability. Plus you are protected by a 100,000 mile or eight year warranty.

Starting from 2007, the carmaker's engineers have done at least a million miles and four million hours of testing on these battery packs, as well as its 288 prismatic cells and nine modules. These testing, development and validation teams have met thousands of specifications while also validating the batteries’ 161 parts. Most of these parts are designed and manufactured by GM, only 5 percent are not.

GM executive director for global electrical systems Micky Bly says that the company's customers are now committed to reduce their dependence on petroleum, so the company is matching that commitment by coming up with vehicles that give customers the highest levels of safety, value, performance, reliability, and quality.

Once the battery's juice runs out, the Chevrolet Volt will switch to extended range mode. Power will now come from the 1.4 liter 84 horsepower engine allowing you to drive for 310 miles more.

The Chevrolet Volt shows us that electric driving is never boring. It can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour and has torques of 273 lb.-ft. at low speeds. You can go from standing still to 60 miles per hour in around 9.0 seconds and you can reach a quarter of a mile in 17.0 seconds.

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