NHTSA Investigation of Chevrolet Volt Vehicles - Volt Owner Satisfaction Program Update
January 5, 2012: A little over a month ago GM brought to everyone's attention efforts by GM and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to better understand the cause of a post-crash electrical fire that occurred after NHTSA crash tested a Chevrolet Volt. We are posting this information today to inform you of GM's solution to this issue.
GM remains firm in their belief that the Volt is a safe car - before, during and immediately after a crash. Although there have been no real world customer incidents, GM is taking precautionary steps to ensure your peace of mind. The focus of this investigation has been on what happens days or weeks after a severe side pole impact test, followed by a roll over. GM is enhancing the vehicle structure and battery coolant system to improve battery protection after a severe crash. GM will notify current Volt owners in February 2012 to schedule service to make these modifications.
If you have any questions, GM will be hosting a web chat on Friday, January 6, 2012, at Noon EST that will specifically address details. Please join the chat at http://www.chevroletvoltage.com/index.php/volt-blog/18-volt/2564-chevrolet-volt-battery- web-chat.html. If you aren't able to join the web chat, you can read it later at the link above. If you have any additional questions, please contact your Courtesy Chevrolet Volt advisor. The contact information is 877-4-VOLT-INFO (877-486-5846) or Voltda101@gmexpert.com.
GMs mission is to provide its customers with the best vehicles on the road. Among the many benefits and attributes GM strives to provide its customers, safety is the most important. It's the ultimate piece of standard equipment GM can offer.
General Motors is tremendously proud of our owners' overwhelmingly positive response to the Volt. There is no greater compliment to GMs Volt team than to have its owners rate Volt the highest of all makes and models on Consumer Reports Annual Satisfaction Survey.
Thank you for standing by the Chevy Volt during this experience. It's been very gratifying to read the supporting comments many of you have posted on Volt's Facebook page and other forums.
Q&A January 5, 2012
Q1. How will current Volt owners get their cars fixed? Who can customers call to get more information? What is the process?
Volt owners will be notified by General Motors of the Customer Satisfaction Program. They can call their Volt Advisor or their dealer for more information. Customers unaware of their specific Volt Advisors can call 877-4-VOLT-INFO (877-486-5846) or email: Voltda101@gmexpert.com.
Q2. Will these modifications cost the customer additional money?
All modifications will be made without cost to the customer because they are covered under new vehicle warranty.
Q3. How long will it take before my car is returned?
The work could take a day or more depending on a given Chevrolet dealer's
service department work load.
Q4. Are you still going to buyback Volts now that you have an enhancement available?
A buyback program was put in place for customers who were concerned about the safety of their vehicle after NHTSA announced its investigation. Now that an enhancement has been developed, this buyback program has concluded.
Q5. How are we handling customers who have previously requested a buy back?
We will work with customers who are requesting a buyback to process their transactions. Now that the enhancements are available some may wish to withdraw their repurchase request
Q6. Will customers be able to keep their loaners until the "changes" are made?
Yes. Once modifications have been made to a customer-owned Volt, they can return their loaner car to the dealership and pick up their Volt.
Q7. When will Chevy dealers have the necessary parts to begin the enhancements?
Chevy dealers will have parts available in February. Owners will be individually notified when modifications are available for their vehicle.
Q8. Why will it take until February before the enhancement can be completed?
Parts need to be manufactured, packaged, inventoried, and shipped to the dealers.
Q9. Will the same enhancements be made to new Volts? If so, what is the timing?
The enhancements are being incorporated into the Volt manufacturing process as production resumes this month. (week of Jan. 16)
Q10. What are the changes to the battery pack?
There are no changes to the Volt battery pack.
Q11. How will you determine which customers get the enhancements first? We expect to have an ample supply of parts in February. Similar to other customer satisfaction programs, customers will be notified when parts are available in their area?
They can work directly with their dealer to schedule the service when it is convenient for them.
Q12. What are the changes to the vehicle structure?
The vehicle safety structure that protects the battery pack will be reinforced with additional metal structure integrated into the underbody to help prevent intrusions into the pack in a severe side collision. These modifications will be made on Volts in the field at Chevrolet dealerships; and,
When production resumes at Detroit Hamtramck, we're integrating similar structural enhancements into the body to help prevent similar intrusions.
Q13. What are the enhancements to the battery cooling system?
We will install a sensor to the battery cooling reservoir bottle to monitor coolant levels. If the coolant falls below the recommended level, the customer will be alerted to have the battery system serviced.
We will also add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent coolant overfills.
Q14. Do these changes make the Volt safer during a crash?
The Volt is already a safe vehicle. (Reference IIHS Top Safety Pick)
These added enhancements are designed to make the Volt even safer
several days after a severe side crash and provide our customers peace of mind
Q15. Is the cell chemistry part of the issue?
Cell chemistry is not part of the issue.
Q16. Why were the issues that led to the NHTSA investigation missed during testing?
They were not "missed." By thoroughly inspecting all the components and systems after all our crash testing, we never experienced one of our crash vehicles sitting for weeks, fully powered and with a coolant leak.
This condition does not pose any safety risk to a driver or occupant. We tested the Volt's battery system for more than 285,000 hours, or 25 years of operation before it was on sale.
Q17. Do you regret using a liquid cooling system?
No, we choose liquid cooling because of the benefits it provides for overall battery life and as the best option for battery management in the Volt.
It's the reason we're able to provide our customers with an eight-year or 100,000 mile warranty, which has become the industry standard for battery warranties.
Q18. Why did GM stay quiet for so many months after the initial fire in Wisconsin?
We did not and still don't consider this test issue an unsafe situation for current Volt owners. We have not stayed quiet about this but instead have been in regular dialogue with the NHTSA since we were informed about the June 6 incident. We are taking the actions we are announcing today to safe guard the peace of mind of our customers.
Q19. What is the difference between a Customer Satisfaction Program and a Recall? They seem to do the same thing.
There is a difference between a Customer Satisfaction Program and a Safety Recall. In a Customer Satisfaction Program, an automaker makes the decision on its own to provide a remedy for a non-safety related defect. A CSP can have a defined time that repairs will be done for a customer. A Safety or Non-compliance recall, by contrast, remains open and has more formal requirements, such as notifying the NHTSA within five days of a company decision to conduct a recall and prohibiting the sale of a vehicle until the defect is remedied. NHTSA also posts the safety defect notice on its website and monitors completion rates.
Q20. What about Volt vehicles in dealer inventory. Are they OK to sell / purchase?
Yes they are. As we have stated, the Volt is a safe vehicle. The enhancements being made to the Volt are to ensure customer peace of mind. A customer can take delivery of their Volt and start enjoying it. Once the parts are available, the customer will be notified to schedule a service appointment to make the enhancements at their dealership.