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GM, NHTSA Delayed Volt Warnings To Prop Up Sales 344

Posted by timothy
from the regulatory-capture-and-cronyism dept.
Lauren Weinstein excerpts the most interesting part of a BBC story about the safety hazards associated with the Chevy Volt — specifically, the risk that its battery pack could catch fire after even a minor impact. While it might be unsurprising that GM was reluctant to shout out safety warnings that would dampen early sales of its much touted hybrid, according to the linked story the NHTSA was as well, and for the same reason: "Part of the reason for delaying the disclosure was the 'fragility of Volt sales' up until that point, according to Joan Claybrook, a former administrator at NHTSA."
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GM, NHTSA Delayed Volt Warnings To Prop Up Sales

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:15PM (#38307196)

    Volt sales have been far below expectations. GM badly bungled the execution of this vehicle, making a tin-can low quality econobox into a $40K car that nobody wants. Really, did anyone expect otherwise from GM? Just wait for the real cars of this type from Toyota, Nissan (leaf) and others, and you won't have to pay $40K for a $20K car and it'll be more reliable. The US auto industry has been incapable of producing a half-decent vehicle for decades now.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:20PM (#38307262) Homepage Journal

    and took the loss to get it off the books. Then perhaps we could have been freed of these shenanigans. I know, I know, yeah it would have tanked the share price and cost other investors money but those investors purchased their shares knowing full well that government had no long term investment need.

    Instead we see politics as usual. From having GE (no taxes, many WH meetings) agree to buy a large number of these cars, we have the Toyota witch hunt earlier this year (even NASA's help could not find fault), and we have the battery issue where three batteries caught fire (one three weeks after a wreck, one a week after a simulated wreck, and one hours after a simulated wreck)

    We have GM sitting on nearly thirty billion in cash, hell they should buy their shares back. Oh wait, they are sitting on it because there is a fear they won't be able to properly fund the pensions for certain unions.

    The reason this battery issue is important is not just to those driving, but to those in the accident with these cars and those responding to the accidents. Whether they are first responders or the wrecker crews. I would have to assume there is a large amount of technical documentation for hazardous waste clean up, hell we freak out over diesel spills can you imagine full penetration of one of these battery packs?

    Another Administration and no real change; unless you count whose pockets the money goes in, it always comes out of ours.

  • Double standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qbast (1265706) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:26PM (#38307370)
    And on the other hand the same NHTSA was all too happy to jump all over Toyota when some morons could not remember which pedal is for braking.
  • Re:Ohhhh shit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 08, 2011 @04:46PM (#38307676) Homepage Journal

    It's true. My gasoline-powered cars catch fire all the time.

    I've only had one [kuro5hin.org] catch fire, and it wasn't even in a wreck. The difference between gasoline cars catching fire after a wreck and electric cars catching fire after a wreck is that the gas car will burn immediately, while it will take a week for the electric car. Nobody has died in an electric car fire (yet), but a lot of people have died in gasoline fires. Look at Pintos and Crown Voctorias.

  • Re:Ohhhh shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Defenestrar (1773808) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @05:20PM (#38308146)
    Nailed it. Replacing our entire infrastructure to generate, store, and transport hydrogen is the trick. So is the question of our source of hydrogen - it could still be oil based for a while. Our catalysts for splitting water aren't quite ready for industrial scale yet IMHO. Best plan I've seen so far is to dedicate a nuclear reactor to the provision of electricity for a catalyst assisted electrolytic splitting of water. I suppose you could do the same with a dam, but I bet it'd be easier to build a new nuke plant these days than it would to build a major dam.
  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @09:21PM (#38310648)

    And yes coal is far and away the most dangerous. But that's a different danger, those dangers are from normal operation. You 'could' filter out the CO2 emissions and other pollutants

    The irony is that burning coal has released far more radiation into the air than has been released by nuclear accidents

    Fun trivial - If you extracted the trace uranium from 1 ton of coal, it can be used in a nuclear reactor to produce more power than burning the coal provides..

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