Coolant likely cause of Volt fires, says AP source

GM is strengthening the Volt's battery pack to prevent coolant leaks in accidents.

Ironically, the liquid coolant that keeps the Volt's lithium-ion battery from overheating on the road is likely what caused it to catch fire three weeks after a crash test. But Volt drivers don't have to worry about coolant catching flame in the same way they might worry about gasoline spills. A source briefed on the Volt's investigation told the Associated Press that crystallized coolant resulted in an electrical short, causing the battery to catch fire.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has been … Read more

GM's Lansing, Mich., plant meets Energy Star standards

General Motors isn't just interested in building energy-efficient vehicles; the company now says its Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant is the company's first U.S. facility to become Energy Star certified. This means the plant has met strict energy performance levels set by the EPA from 2010 to 2011.

The Michigan plant, which builds the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse, was designed to meet the optimum energy efficiency in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning without using steam, the company said in a press release.

The plant, which opened in 2006, has energy and water conservation features … Read more

So far most Volt owners passing on GM's buy-back, loaner offer

It's going to take more than a couple of battery fires to shake the confidence of most current Volt owners--so far only 24 people have taken General Motors up on its offer to buy back their extended range electric vehicles.

The Volt is being investigated by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration because of fires that started in the liquid cooled lithium-ion battery three weeks after side-impact crash tests were performed by the organization. Proper post-crash safety protocols were not followed by NHTSA engineers, which requires the Volt's battery to be drained of power until repairs are … Read more

Why Chevy Volt sales matter less than you think

commentary If anyone thought the Chevy Volt would "save" General Motors, take a look at the first-year sales figures.

The auto giant yesterday reported that it sold 1,139 Chevy Volts in November, bringing its total to date to 6,142. That means, barring a massive purchase by a fleet owner, GM will miss its first-year goal of selling 10,000 electrically driven Volts, a target the company now expects to hit early next year. (Nissan has sold 8,720 all-electric Leafs.)

Detractors will no doubt say first-year Volt sales prove that electric vehicles are not ready for … Read more

GM willing to buy back Volts from worried owners

Volt owners can get a loaner while NHTSA investigations are under way, or GM will take the vehicle off their hands entirely.

Little known fact: OnStar is alerted whenever a Volt is involved in an accident, and within 48 hours GM dispatches a team of technicians to drain the vehicle's battery, which is the proper safety protocol for the vehicle, until it is fully repaired.

But that EV safety protocol may not be good enough for the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association, and it may be cold comfort for worried drivers reading headlines about Volts catching fire three … Read more

Chevrolet invests in greenhouse energy conversion

Chevrolet revealed more details regarding one of 16 new "green" projects the company is funding. Chevrolet is helping Metrolina Greenhouses, in Huntersville, N.C., convert its heat source from natural gas to renewable biomass, the company said in a press release.

Metrolina Greenhouses is a 6.1-million-square-foot facility--the equivalent of 120 football fields--and is now expected to burn 36,000 tons of waste wood from land clearing each year as a heating source.

The heat-source conversion project is part of a five-year, $40 million investment funded by Chevrolet.

"As a large-scale operation delivering approximately 70 million plants … Read more

Feds open inquiry into Volt battery safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday opened a formal investigation into the safety of the battery packs in the Chevy Volt following a series of collision tests.

In three tests since May, the NHTSA has found that damage to the Volt's battery resulted in a fire after a side collision and a rotation of 180 degrees, a test meant to simulate impact with a pole or tree followed by a rollover. In each case, the line which carries coolant to the batteries was ruptured.

In the initial test, battery temperatures rose following the simulated crash and rollover, … Read more

GM to invest $61 million in Spring Hill assembly plant

General Motors has announced it will invest $61 million to update equipment in its Spring Hill, Tenn., assembly plant and retool the facility.

According to the automaker, the plant is being retooled for new products and will be capable of producing a variety of products. The investment will also create 594 hourly jobs and 91 salaried positions.

The Spring Hill plant will begin production of the Chevrolet Equinox in the second half of 2012. Power train and stamping operations for the Chevrolet Traverse are still operating at the plant.

GM will also invest $183 million for midsize vehicles to be … Read more

GM opens engine plant in Uzbekistan

General Motors today announced the opening of an assembly plant in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. GM opened the power-train plant with local venture partner UzAvtosanoat.

According to the automaker, facility is GM's first engine plant in the Central Asian country. The plant is tasked with producing more than 225,000 new fuel-efficient Ecotec 1.2L and 1.5L engines for use in GM small passenger cars.

The new plant will produce finished machined components such as cylinder heads, cylinder blocks, and crankshafts. The plant has been equipped with the latest technology and has the flexibility to switch between production of engine … Read more

GM responds to Chevy Volt fires

GM ended up in the hot seat after a Chevrolet Volt caught fire three weeks after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-tested the vehicle, reportedly leading the transportation organization to question the safety of lithium ion batteries.

The fire, which damaged several vehicles parked near the defunct Volt, may have started in the plug-in's battery. The NHTSA subsequently launched an investigation into the safety of electric battery technology. GM released a statement this afternoon responding to the news and concerns that its vehicles could be fire hazards.

"First and foremost, I want to make this very clear: … Read more