24 Chevy Volt owners to take GM up on its offer to buy back their recently-purchased extended-range electric vehicles following the launch of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The probe was prompted by an incident of a fire starting in the Volt’s liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery packs three weeks after the NHTSA performed a crash test. What is perhaps the most important fact of this entire kerfuffle, however, is that NHTSA engineers did not follow proper post-crash safety protocols, which call for the Volt’s battery to be drained of power until repairs are completed.
The administration subsequently released findings of crash testing two other Volts, one of which produced sparks while the other didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. To add irony into the equation, Consumer Reports revealed last week that the Volt has the highest customer satisfaction rate of all vehicles, with 93 percent of owners declaring that they would buy it again.
For its part, General Motors is standing by the safety of the Volt — which has sold 6,142 units in 2011 and 342 in 2010 — by offering to purchase the vehicles from concerned customers in the name of customer satisfaction. Of course, the buy-back price will vary for each vehicle based on true market value factors such as mileage and overall condition. Making matters a bit more complicated is the federal tax credit: customers who have taken advantage of the $7,500 incentive will most likely need to see a tax advisor.
Besides the buy-back program, GM is also offering a loaner program that offers customers a loaner vehicle for the duration of the NHTSA’s investigation. This program is proving to be more popular, with “less than a hundred” Volt owners having requested loaner vehicles to temporarily replace their Volts, said GM spokesperson Greg Martin. The loaner program offers nearly the entire lineup of GM vehicles — with a few exceptions. Cadillac’s high performance V-Series vehicles, for instance, are not on the eligible loaner’s list.
No matter which way one spins it, GM is adamant on setting the record straight and digging into NHTSA’s findings: when asked when the investigation will be completed, Martin answered, “When we get it right.” According to some reports, GM may have to shell out $9 million — or $1,000 per Volt — to fix the issue
with some duct tape by laminating electric circuitry and reinforcing the cooling system.