Few Chevy Volt Owners Take Up GM Buyback Offer

Although General Motors (GM) said it will buy back its Chevy Volt hybrid car from any owner concerned about the chance of a battery fire, few Chevy Volt Owners have taken up GM’s buyback offer.

To date, GM has agreed to buy back about one dozen Chevy Volts, said GM spokesman Selim Bingol, wrote USA Today. Meanwhile, a government investigation continues on the “extended-range” electric car.

As we reported previously, there have been two instances of Chevy Volt batteries catching fire after sitting idle for a week or longer following a crash. In both cases, the vehicles had been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The fires prompted the NHTSA to launch an official investigation of the Volt. No fires have been reported by people who bought Volts.

The NHTSA began looking at the batteries following a fire at a Wisconsin garage where the agency was storing a wrecked Chevy Volt. The fire occurred this spring, three weeks after the Chevy Volt was damaged in a side-impact crash test. GM had blamed the agency for the fire, alleging the blaze occurred because the lithium-ion battery had not been deactivated properly.

The NHTSA has since been able to replicate the battery fire during three tests conducted earlier last month. While the first test, conducted on November 16, did not result in a fire, a battery pack on a second Chevy Volt caught fire a week after it was subjected to a crash test on November 17. A Volt crash tested on November 18 resulted in the emission of sparks and smoke from the battery.

The hybrid Chevy Volt is powered by a lithium-ion battery and has an electric onboard motor that powers the vehicle when the charge runs low. The crash tests punctured the Volt battery, and leaking battery coolant could have caused the fires in the two undrained Volt batteries.

Just “a few dozen” Volt owners have taken GM up on its offer to buy back their cars, according to Bingol, who added that some officials at GM, including its CEO, Dan Akerson, are considering buying one of the returned cars, wrote USA Today. Meanwhile, before completing the buy back, GM is speaking to every owner to better understand their dissatisfaction and see if they can improve how the owners feel about their cars. “If the only way we can make them happy is to repurchase it, then we will,” Bingol said, reported USA Today.

A few dozen other owners have taken up GM’s offer for a free loaner car while the investigation is ongoing, said spokesman Greg Martin. As we’ve written, GM’s buyback offer falls short of an official buyback. “We are considering it,” Martin previously said of a possible buyback program. GM has promised to send a technician to drain the battery of any Volt involved in a crash, and is considering altering the design of its battery. GM also said it would only issue a Chevy Volt recall if the NHTSA deems it necessary.

News of GM’s decision to repurchase Volts from worried owners came the same day Consumer Reports released a survey naming Volt buyers the most-satisfied U.S. vehicle owners, with a whopping 93% saying they would definitely buy the car again. The survey was taken before the NHTSA announced its Volt investigation.

GM is offering its customers the purchase price of the car, including taxes and fees, and less a usage fee based on the miles the owners drove their cars, said USA Today.

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