The latest news in the ongoing saga that is the Chevy Volt is that there have been two instances where the battery packs have caught fire following crash testing by the NHTSA. Yesterday, General Motors stepped up to the plate with an unprecedented damage-controlling offer: Volt owners concerned about the safety of their electric ride can request a free GM loaner vehicle until the issue is resolved. Apparently, that offer includes the Corvette.
Our friends at Jalopnik had a copy of the letter that GM’s North America President Mark Reuss sent to all current Chevrolet Volt owners announcing the loaner program. As the text included the sentence “We will provide you a GM vehicle to drive until this issue is resolved”, Jalopnik’s Editor Ray Wert called up a few folks at GM and asked “Can you get a Corvette loaner if you’re scared your Chevy Volt will explode?”
GM responded to the question with an absolute yes. They will put you in a Corvette loaner if that’s what you desire.
“Theoretically if you wanted to get into a Corvette, the customer’s Volt Advisor will work to get them into one,” said GM spokesperson Greg Martin.
“Obviously the intent of this program is not to provide a long-term Corvette test drive, but our priority is to make sure the customer is satisfied.”
Martin says they are not anticipating a huge rush of Volt owners to request a Corvette or Camaro because they presume that the type of personality that buys a Volt isn’t interested in horsepower.
We are glad to see GM step up here and do the right thing with its customers come first strategy. But truthfully, the thing that surprises us the most is the fact that GM and Jalopnik are still on talking terms following Los Jalops outing earlier this month of the 2014 Corvette in these renderings.
Here’s the full letter from GM NA President Mark Reuss
Dear Volt Owner,
You may have seen the recent news articles regarding the NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) safety investigation of the Chevrolet Volt. I’m writing you today with more details that, I think, will put things in perspective and make you feel better about your Volt.
First and foremost, I want to assure you of one very important thing: the Volt is a safe car. The Volt continues to have a 5 star overall vehicle score for safety in NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program. It was also given a Top Safety Pick Award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
There are good reasons the Volt is safe. Our team has put more than one million miles into making the Chevrolet Volt as safe as it is remarkable. After all, our families, neighbors, co-workers and friends are among those who own the cars we’re tasked with designing, engineering and manufacturing.
Here are the facts behind the most recent news articles. In May, the NHTSA ran one of its most severe crash tests at a test facility in Wisconsin. The Volt battery was damaged and the coolant line was ruptured. Three weeks later, an electrical fire involving the test vehicle occurred.
NHSTA, working with GM engineers, has been running a program of severe impact and intrusion tests on Volt battery assemblies as part of its effort to understand and replicate the May 2011 incident. Thanksgiving night, NHTSA told us that one of the batteries tested was involved in an electrical fire similar to the one that took place in Wisconsin. As a result NHTSA has begun a preliminary investigation of Chevrolet Volt battery assemblies.
We are aware of no real world consumer incidents that have produced a similar result. These recent tests show a very rare set of circumstances: A severe impact resulting in the battery and coolant lines being compromised. And then the passing of a significant amount of time before an electrical fire may take place.
The Volt is as safe as conventional vehicles for its occupants – before, during and immediately after a crash. When electrical energy is left in a battery after a severe crash it can be similar to leaving gasoline in a leaking fuel tank after severe damage. It’s important to drain the energy from the battery after a crash that compromises the battery’s integrity. GM and NHTSA’s focus and research continue to be on battery performance, handling, storage and disposal after a crash.
Even though there have been no customer incidents, we’re taking steps to ensure your peace of mind. If you are in any way uncomfortable driving your Volt as a result of this information, we want to make it right. We will provide you a GM vehicle to drive until this issue is resolved. Contact your Volt Advisor to make arrangements or to answer your questions. If you are not aware of your specific Volt Advisor, the contact information is: phone: 877-4-VOLT-INFO (877-486-5846) email: [email protected]
We take enormous pride in Volt and what it represents-a new era of electric vehicles that can reduce dependence on gas, reduce air pollution, and more. On-going collaboration between the government, manufacturers and other stakeholders will enhance post crash protocols and accelerate acceptance of electric vehicles.
There is nothing more important to us at General Motors than the safety of our customers. We will continue to aid the NHTSA investigation in every way possible.
We stand 100% behind the quality and safety of the Chevrolet Volt – now and always.
Thank you for being a Volt owner. By the way I am also a Volt owner, my daughter drives it every day and she will continue to do so.
President GM North America and Volt Owner (#1457)