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GM, NHTSA Delayed Volt Warnings To Prop Up Sales

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the regulatory-capture-and-cronyism dept.

United States 344

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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344 comments

What do you expect? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307144)

Can't have the Government criticizing a Government Motors product now, can we? Especially if it's GREEN!

Ohhhh shit (2, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307156)

RIP once more, electric car. Dig you up in 20 years once the fallout of this conspiracy washes away. :-(

Re:Ohhhh shit (5, Informative)

grqb (410789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307258)

This is getting blown way out of proportion.

See this article for another view: http://www.economist.com/node/21541395 [economist.com]

Specifically the last paragraph:
"What is left unsaid in all this is the fact that conventional cars with a tank full of petrol are far greater fire hazards than electric cars will ever be. Some 185,000 vehicles catch fire in America each year, with no fewer than 285 people dying as a consequence. But, then, people have been living with the hazard of petrol for over a century. Irrationally, electric-vehicle fires are perceived as somehow more worrisome simply because they are new."

Re:Ohhhh shit (2, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307300)

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

You are half-right, though. From what I've read the Volt's battery is supposed to be drained after a crash to ensure it can't catch fire... which must be great fun for people who are responding to the accident.

Re:Ohhhh shit (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307676)

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 (3, Insightful)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307970)

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

You are half-right, though. From what I've read the Volt's battery is supposed to be drained after a crash to ensure it can't catch fire... which must be great fun for people who are responding to the accident.

A more pertinent question is whether the responders feel safe using the jaws of life on an electric car. Unless every emergency responder is required to learn where the various power conduits in every vehicle are located, or unless industry standardizes locations on a vehicle, you could add a bit of extra shock when you're trying to tear someone out of the car. So far there's relatively few models and most keep all of the high current stuff all under the hood, but it's not impossible that the battery will be up front with individual electric motors per wheel, or a motor in the back, or perhaps the electric heater might be located in the passenger compartment...

Re:Ohhhh shit (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307318)

Oh I know. Just like I know that nuclear power is actually relatively safe. But the fact is that electric cars (more specifically giant lithium batteries) are a technology that people are antsy about, and now there's been an accident (fully preventable if they followed the instructions of course), and a cover up. What do you think's going to happen?

Re:Ohhhh shit (-1, Offtopic)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307858)

Just like I know that nuclear power is actually relatively safe

Everything is safe when it isn't breaking. It's the breaking part that makes things unsafe and when nuclear reactors 'break' they are highly 'unsafe'. There's a reason why they have massive redundancies built into every single point of failure. Failure simply isn't an option with nuclear.

So while you can minimize the likelihood of failure from planned activities...it's the unplanned things, like tsunami's, that tend to really screw you up.

This is why nuclear is a bad option. It's ridiculously expensive because of the risks, massive redundancy needed and of course spent fuel storage for centuries. It will be necessary for another 50-100 years unfortunately but we'll get off it as renewable sources and battery tech gets better. They simply don't have the risks that nuclear will always have.

Re:Ohhhh shit (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308044)

This is why nuclear is a bad option. It's ridiculously expensive because of the risks, massive redundancy needed and of course spent fuel storage for centuries. It will be necessary for another 50-100 years unfortunately but we'll get off it as renewable sources and battery tech gets better. They simply don't have the risks that nuclear will always have.

You mean like hydroelectric? [wikipedia.org] (171,000 people dead from one accident, if you didn't click the link. I believe that is at least one order of magnitude more than have died, in totum, from nuclear accidents.) Other hydroelectric dams could kill at least that many again if they fail. Hydro failures are generally even more catastrophic than even the worst nuclear disasters have ever been. They also produce far more power than other renewable sources.

Blah de blah blah. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307562)

...with no fewer than 285 people dying as a consequence. But, then, people have been living with the hazard of petrol for over a century. Irrationally, electric-vehicle fires are perceived as somehow more worrisome simply because they are new."

That's more than the amount of people who die from terrorism every year. And yet we're spending billions and curbing our Constitutional Rights because of it.

What the fuck is my point? Life has risks and automobiles are the biggest risk to life and limb in our modern world and we need to get over it.

Sadly, we won't because people are stupid.

Re:Ohhhh shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307570)

Doesn't matter as long as the federal government and specifically the Obama administration gets smeared with it. That is my hope and change anyway.

Remember people associate GM and the Volt with government designed by committee crap. About as reliable and safe as a Yugo.

Re:Ohhhh shit (4, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307572)

to me it isn't so much as because it's "new" but rather because it is delayed.. in a normal car wreck if you have a fire it happens then.. not 3 weeks after the car was repaired.

I'd agree there is zero worry if it takes a puncture of the battery pack to cause this as that should be caught in inspection before it is sent out as repaired. what does bother me is the chance of it happening with the battery pack only experiencing a physical shock with zero outside indicators of damage. I want to know the real % chances of that happening.. if it is 50% then we have a problem.. my bet though is this isn't really an issue..

Re:Ohhhh shit (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307606)

I think part of the reason it was blown out of proportion was that a cover-up attempt was made. Had they come clean immediately and made the point you just made, the story would have died out almost immediately.

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307914)

I know it's offtopic, but Aptera went defunct a few days ago and they're the ones with the better design. How does a 200 mpg diesel (Gen0) sound or a 120-mile range EV for under $27000 (Nissan Leaf MSRP - $35200) with the lowest drag coefficient of any production vehicle and a top speed of 100+mph? It was a commuter car for the masses.

GM's bailout cost over $20B [conservativecommune.com] while Aptera was seeking $0.15B in funding. Aptera was denied and closed last week.

Aptera Employees Destroy Futuristic Vehicles After Shutdown [go.com] .

WTF guys?

Someone should buy Aptera's assets and reboot the company. It goes up for sale on Dec 20th-21st [marketwatch.com] .

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307962)

far greater fire hazards than electric cars

Until a large fleet of electric cars has appeared and aged in the real world, anyone claiming to know the relative fire hazard is a shoveling bullshit.

Stop accepting and promulgating bullshit.

Re:Ohhhh shit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307314)

Look, let's face it: current battery powered electric cars are shit. They will always be shit. They're a dead end, waste of time, and manufacturing the batteries is a horribly dirty and energy intensive process. Not to mention disposal when the batteries reach the end of their (short) lives.

If this helps kill of battery electric vehicles, then good. Perhaps then companies like GM will finally start to focus on solving the remaining few problems with Hydrogen fueled cars and we can get something people actually want.

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307376)

Oh hydrogen, that's much more practical! A gas that escapes through solids and has already burned a zeppelin-shaped black mark into humanity's consciousness.

Electric cars are NOT shit now and would be less shitty than ICE vehicles given a decade or two of development. I'm not sure we'll ever see that now. But enjoy jacking off to your anti-environmental victory.

Re:Ohhhh shit (2, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307466)

Electric cars are NOT shit now

Yes they are.

and would be less shitty than ICE vehicles given a decade or two of development.

Electric cars have had more than a century of development and they're still hopelessly inadequate compared to ICE cars. That's why our great-grandparents dumped electric cars as soon as the ICE came along.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307832)

More than a century of development? They were basically forgotten between the late 1800s/early 1900s and the '90s.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308050)

Electric cars are NOT shit now

Yes they are.

and would be less shitty than ICE vehicles given a decade or two of development.

Electric cars have had more than a century of development and they're still hopelessly inadequate compared to ICE cars. That's why our great-grandparents dumped electric cars as soon as the ICE came along.

Electric cars are shit only if you mean they are "the shit". http://www.teslamotors.com/ [teslamotors.com] Just because some companies make less than stellar electrics, doesn't mean all do. News flash, many (most) companies make gas cars that are shit as well.

Re:Ohhhh shit (2)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308054)

How about turbine powered electric generators (pick your fuel) which run a dedicated electric vehicle system. There's only so much more efficiency you can squeak out of the ICE these days. One could add a battery/capacitor system to run it off the grid for shorter trips. Jaguar made a pretty awesome prototype along these lines a few years back.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307480)

How is wanting hydrogen cars anti-environmental when they are far greener than these battery cars both to make and refuel?

Re:Ohhhh shit (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307530)

Because they are something between "far off" and "impossible." Like saying "I'm glad we got rid of this wind farm, better to work on cold fusion anyways!"

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307642)

How is it impossible? I suggest you Google "Honda FCX".

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307770)

A handful of concept cars with performance comparable to an electric. But the cars are no problem compared to the "hydrogen economy" they require.

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307532)

Oh hydrogen, that's much more practical!

Well yes, it is.

A gas that escapes through solids

Hydrogen doesn't "escape through solids" any quicker than gasoline evaporates out of your tank, you blithering idiot.

Electric cars are NOT shit now

Really? Show me a good electric car at a price and performance comparable to the equivalent gasoline car. Show me a good electric vehicle that doesn't take hours to charge. Please, do. It's O.K, take your time.

The few remaining problems with hydrogen are all solvable. The long term problems of batteries are not, unless we suddenly discover a super conducting material with an energy density that would put a thermonuclear device to shame whilst at the same time being safe and not requirement a horrendously dirty manufacturing process and we upgrade the entire electricity generating and distribution network to support millions of people plugging in their 100kA charging circuits for a quick top up.

Let's us all know if you see anything like that ever happening.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307664)

Hydrogen doesn't "escape through solids" any quicker than gasoline evaporates out of your tank

Depends on the tank (and gas cap seal) I suppose, since it escapes faster than helium:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium#Gas_and_plasma_phases [wikipedia.org]

Really? Show me a good electric car at a price and performance comparable to the equivalent gasoline car. Show me a good electric vehicle that doesn't take hours to charge. Please, do. It's O.K, take your time.

Do I get to compensate for the additional cost of gas that the ICE car requires? If so, I'll put forward the Mitsubishi i, which can charge to 80% in half an hour with a quick charger and costs in the low-$20k range. Compare with any other tiny economy 4-seater.

Failure then (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307830)

Depends on the tank (and gas cap seal) I suppose, since it escapes faster than helium:

Oddly a gasoline tank with holes in it will leak too. Imagine that, you need a tank that holds the material you are trying to contain.

Do I get to compensate for the additional cost of gas that the ICE car requires?

I'll put forward the Mitsubishi i, which can charge to 80% in half an hour with a quick charger

Fail. When you need a car now, 1/2 hour is unacceptable. You may as well take the bus.

Compare with any other tiny economy 4-seater.

You mean the ones that cost 3x-4x less (tax bonus doesn't count, I mean real cost), are far more robust, have 3x the range and in the end only cost about 3x as much to fill up yet you can fill them right away?

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307850)

You only get to add the cost of the gas to the ICE car if you also factor in the cost of the electricity and the price of installing that high-amperage circuit to charge your Mitsubishi i on the quick charger. Now how does the math stack up for you?

I wont even bother to mention the fact that the ICE car can drive much further on a tank than you can on your 80% charge, and the ICE can fill up in 2 minutes instead of 30. Because that would be a really cheap sho...oh, wait.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308010)

as a serious question, is the quick charger carried with the 'i'? Because the biggest problem with electrics right now besides fueling 'times' is places capable of offering such a quick charge.

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307742)

Hydrogen doesn't "escape through solids" any quicker than gasoline evaporates out of your tank, you blithering idiot.

Really?

Even with thermally insulated containers it is difficult to keep such a low temperature, and the hydrogen will gradually leak away. Typically it will evaporate at a rate of 1% per day.

Your car leaks like a sieve.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307976)

Show me a good electric car at a price and performance comparable to the equivalent gasoline car.

Well, to be fair, Hydrogen cars are going to be 'electric'. You don't BURN the hydrogen, you use a fuel cell.

This is one issue most people conflate. 'Electric' vs 'Hydrogen' is like 'Internal Combustion' vs 'Gas'. They aren't always the same things. We need more cars like the Volt in the sense that the propulsion is electrically powered. We can provide that electricity now via on board gas generators and switch to batteries or hydrogen fuel cells when they mature but we need to get the cars 'running' on electricity first. Doing both together is going to be a longer and harder process because the battery tech isn't there nor is the hydrogen fuel distribution system.

I'm a big fan of hydrogen and think it is the best answer long term, but we should focus initial efforts on making the fleet capable of operating electrically.

Re:Ohhhh shit (4, Informative)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307406)

RIP once more, electric car. Dig you up in 20 years once the fallout of this conspiracy washes away. :-(

Conspiracy? Please. Try reality.

There's no conspiracy here against electric cars. Compared to gas powered vehicles, they suck. It really is as simple as that. The technology for electric cars just isn't there yet, no matter how hard you wish it. It wasn't a conspiracy that the EV1 failed, and it's not a conspiracy that newer electric cars still stink. There is no laughing fat man in an expensive suit, lighting cigars with $100 dollar bills that's preventing electric cars from taking off. Call the rest of us back when someone makes an electric car that can go as far as a gas car, as fast as a gas car, and has passenger room and a sticker price and operating costs comparable to gas cars. When that happens, people will buy them, and companies will be in one quick hurry to sell them.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307458)

It was a conspiracy FOR electric cars that backfired. I know there's no conspiracy against them (unless I count the spewings of people like yourself, for whom extreme range is the only worthwhile trait of an automobile).

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307668)

"extreme" range is the only worthwhile *design goal* of a transportation device, in general, so long as the requirements of the passengers is met. How's that spewing anything?

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307708)

Why do you say range? Why not top speed, cornering ability, acceleration, wade depth, shinyness of paint or any other arbitrary metric?

Re:Ohhhh shit (2)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307950)

Because "range" is what you engage in transportation for - to get from A to B.

Speed isn't really important, because it's capped by speed limits anyway, so as long as your car can reach the speed limits, who cares?
Cornering ability is mandated by law - if your car sucks so hard at cornering, it won't get approved to drive on public roads. As long as it meets the minimum standard, who cares?
Acceleration is likewise unimportant for the actual purpose of transportation. As long as it's not totally ridiculous, having a poor acceleration will increase the length of your journey only a miniscule amount
Wade depth is unimportant while you're driving on roads, which is what these vehicles are designed for
Shiny paint is unrelated to transportation, and can be serviced by an afterrmarket

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307952)

Range? Because I drive 600 miles on a semi-regular basis, with my family in a fully loaded sedan. No Electric Vehicle comes even reasonably close to this.

It isn't arbitrary metric, it is a real world metric. Top Speed (Assuming you mean 150 MPH, not 35MPH) is not a real world metric, when was the last time you drove your car at its rated top speed (top gear, petal to the metal)?

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307688)

Electric cars that backfire.... you're funny!

Re:Ohhhh shit (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307510)

I think he meant the conspiracy in TFA. That is, the fairly scandalous cover up of a safety hazard by a government agency to shore up a company's sales.

I wonder which low life official got a corporate back hander for that one.

Re:Ohhhh shit (1, Troll)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307436)

Unfortunately it will take a better company than the welfare case GM to build one that is any good.

Re:Ohhhh shit (2)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307638)

Shouldn't cars be fusion powered in 20 years?

Re:Ohhhh shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307792)

We don't need an "electric car", we need an "electric society" that understands that the cheap energy fiesta is coming to a close. Chemical energy generously brewed for us for free by Mother Nature for millions of years, all gobbled up in less than two hundred years.

We need to change our social model. The "100% employment (doing what?), urban sprawl, car-for-everything model" has to change.

That's HARD, though, so most Asperger's geeks will tend to cling to visions of human ingenuity overcoming all odds, or revive the dead, shambling zombie-like corpses of Space Age fantasies.

Not gonna happen.

Which car company do you work for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307180)

Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

Re:Which car company do you work for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307506)

Umm..that's a quote from Fight Club.

sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307330)

I hear Europe has a ton of diesel vehicles a ton with much better fuel economy. We can trust GM to not screw up diesels right? I mean how hard can it be. People have been making diesel engines for a hundred years.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307542)

European diesel vehicles can't pass US environmental standards.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307608)

Yeah, but with a little work they can. AND, they will still be more economical. Also a hell of a lot more reliable.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (2)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307626)

VW, Mercedes and BMW would take issue with that (incorrect) assertion. The sole reason most manufacturers don't sell their diesel cars in the US (this includes GM and Ford) is the perception that Americans won't buy them. A lie that should have been put to rest by the success of VW with their newer common-rail TDIs.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307700)

Not just perception, mostly wrong from those I've spoken to about the fuel. But unlike Europe, the US doesn't discount the price at the pump, even though it's still substantially cheaper than Europe.

TV is another matter. Real men drive oversized pickups, with Hemi lumps that guzzle petrol like a high performance car. But, in a pickup, you'll grow to 6' 6", lose 100lb of flat, gain, 120lb of muscle and some strange, never seen in real life, stubble. Checkered shirts are an optional extra.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (1)

shuz (706678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308042)

I am still waiting for the day when a small Nissan style diesel pickup truck is available in the US. Cars and SUV's both would benefit and meet a lot of efficiency goals in the US if there were diesel options. The number one, imho only, negative issue with small block diesels is that they have poor low speed acceleration and would cause way to may people to be good drivers. I find that my diesel has much better high speed acceleration compared to gas based due to the fact that my car doesn't have to downshift to gain extra torque so I don't lose overall power when stepping on it at 65 to get around that annoying SUV kicking up rocks at my freshly waxed paint job. Diesel also is far less likely to cause a giant fireball in a crash. The pressure required for it to instantly combust is higher than the tinsel strength of the fuel tank. Try holding a lighter up to a puddle of diesel fuel. It will burn but it takes a lot of heat and a bit of time and it does not burn quickly. Don't try the same with Kerosene (jet A) or Gasoline.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307336)

How did the sales make themselves wet?

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307344)

GM badly bungled the execution of this vehicle, making a tin-can low quality econobox into a $40K car that nobody wants.

They should never have let this guy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Brother,_Where_Art_Thou%3F [wikipedia.org] - design the thing

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307418)

The US auto industry has been incapable of producing a half-decent vehicle for decades now.

Oh C'mon! I got a 20 year old Crown Vic that still goes like a raped ape

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307422)

More then just incapable....unwilling, deliberate. GM had a functioning car 15 years ago. I'm to believe that technology has progressed so much that now they can't make one? More then just Wagner needs to be fired from that company.

Re:sales dampened themselves: the car sucks (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307684)

Is GM, a company that's been around over 100 years, truly this incompetent? Or is this whole progression -- design, execution, tax credits, coverup, part of a larger plan?

Can we get a /crackpot bin for crap like this? (1, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307208)

How does a crackpot theory like this make the front page? What's next JFK assassination theories or little green men tucked in freezers in Area 51?

Just a little bit of professional editorial work, that's all I ask.

Re:Can we get a /crackpot bin for crap like this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307338)

So, are you working in the Volt area or in another G.M. department?

Re:Can we get a /crackpot bin for crap like this? (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307372)

No, I'm a real person, not an astroturfing drone. I just happen to be a real person that is tired of crap conspiracy theories. This is supposed to be a geek site, not an x-files are real site!

Re:Can we get a /crackpot bin for crap like this? (3, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307640)

The summary is only referencing a BBC story. You don't get anymore mainstream than the BBC.

Slashdot is a news aggregator, and you can't really blame them for taking headline tech stories from probably the largest news service in the world.

Re:Can we get a /crackpot bin for crap like this? (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308028)

Calling this a "crackpot theory" is just plain naïveté. All of human history, including American history, is rife with this type of corruption.

Obama Motors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307214)

This is the hope and change that you voted for, liberals. Obama Motors must not be criticized at all costs!

Re:Obama Motors (-1, Offtopic)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307286)

Oh fuck off, you pussy.

Re:Obama Motors (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307364)

Totally. Burn him for criticizing the Obamessiah, peace be upon him.

Re:Obama Motors (-1, Troll)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307428)

Oh fuck off, you pussy.

With a coherent message such as this you must be an occupier.

Re:Obama Motors (-1, Flamebait)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307690)

trolololol you said "occupier" like a noun - because you can't handle the fact a movement can be composed of people from all walks of life. Life - you know - that thing you get when you stop toiling to sound like an ass.

Not surprise by Government Motors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307240)

Do you think that since the NHTSA possibly delayed the report because the governement actually owns a good chunk of GM? Hmmmm....

Re:Not surprise by Government Motors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38308026)

A comment that's anti obama and/or anti socialist. You will be modded troll.

government should have sold its shares already (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307262)

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.

Re:government should have sold its shares already (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307730)

can you imagine full penetration of one of these battery packs?

We're getting pretty close to rule 34 [xkcd.com] territory with that statement.

Fireproof, I guess (1)

cstec (521534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307280)

Fortunately, every other vehicle on the road is made of granite and thus incapable of catching fire...

Re:Fireproof, I guess (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307560)

Usually when you crash your car and it's going to catch fire it happens relatively soon. With the Volt it can look fine after a crash and then a few weeks later burst into flames in your garage.

Excuse me? (1)

Howard Roark (13208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307302)

Just where does it say "a minor impact?" For the battery to start a fire, it has to be punctured, and that is no "minor impact." In addition, the fires that occured in the NHTSA test happened days and in one case weeks after the crash test.

Compare this to the infernal fireball that you get seconds after you puncture a gas tank.

The only place a Volt will catch fire is in the scrap yard after it has been totaled provided that some moron didn't discharge the battery before throwing it on the scrap heap.

Re:Excuse me? (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307334)

Compare this to the infernal fireball that you get seconds after you puncture a gas tank.

Dude, you should watch less action movies.

Hint: in the real world, gasoline cars rarely explode when you fire a pistol at them.

Re:Excuse me? (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307578)

Dude, you should watch less action movies.

Hint: in the real world, gasoline cars rarely explode when you fire a pistol at them.

Not only that, but even shooting a full tank with tracer rounds will not make the tank explode. The heat and pressure needed to make a tank of gas explode is found more commonly in Michael Bay films than it is in an auto accident. Unless of course everyone started driving Pintos again

Re:Excuse me? (1)

foradoxium (2446368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38308022)

however, using explosive ammo will make the tank explode.

look up fpsrussia on youtube, the acr video.

just so we're still on track, not all pinto's were an issue. I believe it was only the sedan, at least I believe that's what an owner told me once. hehe

Re:Excuse me? (2)

Howard Roark (13208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307782)

Dude, you obviously haven't studied crash safety.

Let's look look at a famous crash test from the 1970's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgOxWPGsJNY&feature=endscreen&NR=1 [youtube.com]

I don't mean to single out the Pinto. It was, in fact , typical of many 1970's cars which had fuel tanks mounted behind the rear axle. Cars today are much safer.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307906)

But certain cars explode easily when they're in an accident. Ford's Crown Vic and Pinto, one of Chevy's pickup trucks. As to the 1/4 tank of gas, it won't explode but when it leaks all over the pavement and there's a spark there's no "boom" but there certainly is a WOOSH. Personally, I'd rather be killed instantly in an impact or by shrapnel than slowly roasted over a gasoline fire.

Re:Excuse me? (3, Insightful)

wizzerking (1036902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307380)

Have you not watched Mythbusters ??? Only if a stream of gas comes out of a tank, and pools will it burn. THERE IS NO CHANCE OF AN EXPLOSION WHEN THE GAS TANK IS 1/4 OR MORE FULL Stopping thinking like hollywood, and go watch mythbusters, or get an engineering degree.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307586)

Just because the car won't explode doesn't mean you won't die from the fire. Just a few months ago, near where I live, a family was roasted alive when a drunk rammed their stopped Jeep Cherokee from behind at about 40mph.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

wizzerking (1036902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307734)

Yes there are fires and tragedies do result from these fires. I was responding to the statement "Compare this to the infernal fireball that you get seconds after you puncture a gas tank." I did not mean that fires do not occur, as i alluded to in my statement "Only if a stream of gas comes out of a tank, and pools will it burn". I have never lost some one close to me due to car fires, but have lost 17 friends in car accidents from not wearing seat belts over my 45 years since high school. That experience as well as reports of 284 car fires each year compared to the 154 MILLION cars has led the applied mathematician in me to discount car fires as a lowly 0.01% of accident consequences. But when they( car fires) happen near to you they are of overwhelming importance. My apologies for not being more specific , and not being more"Human" and considerate.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307590)

Nonetheless, giant fires do happen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrollton,_Kentucky_bus_collision#NTSB_Summary [wikipedia.org]

Re:Excuse me? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307824)

Nonetheless, giant fires do happen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrollton,_Kentucky_bus_collision#NTSB_Summary [wikipedia.org]

According to the link, it took 4 minutes before the bus was fully engulfed and that a big part of the problem was lack of emergency exits (since the front door was damaged). I think anyone can agree that given minutes a vehicle can be filled with fire, but not in seconds like Howard Roark suggests.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307442)

Not so. For a battery to start a fire (your words), it need not be punctured. All you need to do is draw more current than the wiring is capable of carrying. Wires heat up, and then you get a fire. However, if you discharge the battery at a rate greater than the battery is designed for it is possible that it may explode or catch fire. Generally they just swell up.

And you do not always get a fireball when you puncture a gasoline take either - an ignition source MUST be present to ignite gas.

Life is cheap, it's costed into all car products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307312)

Manufacturers know precisely how well their products stand up to damage, as well as the consequences. Both GM and Ford have extremely famous cases where they knew they were selling faulty vehicles, but the cost from being sued, by their expert estimations, was less than the cost to make the product safer.

tl;dr: learn your history kids!

unsurprising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307326)

While it might be unsurprising

If you find it surprising the NHTSA covered up problems with a political favorite like the government subsidized Volt and its union/government owned manufacturer you're very naive.

Top of the line in utility sports (1)

suspiciously_calm (2490714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307350)

Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts

Re:Top of the line in utility sports (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307902)

Canyonero!
YEE-AH!

Double standards (4, Interesting)

qbast (1265706) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:Double standards (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307556)

As hard as it may have been to reproduce. The error did exist.

I experienced it myself. Not from pressing down a petal, but as I lifted my foot UP from the petal, my Prius began to accelerate.

Re:Double standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307610)

You have flowers in your car - maybe that was the problem!

Re:Double standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307740)

Pedal [google.com]
Petal [google.com]

Knowledge is power.

Re:Double standards (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307588)

Toyota. Funny name that. Almost sounds... foreign. Not like General Motors.

Of course, Chevrolet is a French name.

What's that other little American transportation related saying? Something about Boeing?

Re:Double standards (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307990)

A there was a problem. Toyota even fixed it.

Joan hasn't been involved with the NHTSA for 30 years. Also, I can only find what appear to be an out of context quote.

Electric Pinto? (3, Insightful)

dunnius (1298159) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307504)

Cool, another Pinto, but electric this time. I'm sure the story is overblown, but anything that stores energy is going to be a fire risk.

Re:Electric Pinto? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307894)

Cool, another Pinto, but electric this time. I'm sure the story is overblown, but anything that stores energy is going to be a fire risk.

Must be why we've heard so much about all those Soapbox Racers with their stored kinetic energy going up in flames.

Oh, wait...

Strat

Flaming battery vs. flaming gasoline tank? (0)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307812)

Trying to imagine a small car going up like a cheap Dell laptop vs. an exploding Pinto.... which one would I rather be in?

Just so you know (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38307878)

Joan ClayBrook was head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1981
30 years ago.

So,it's an opinion from someone who has no insight to the details.

Electric - gas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38307978)

Same issues occured when the auto industry 1st got it's feet wet. This is new-tech AND for certain is the next place to go
in terms of automobiles. Those commenting about "conspiracy" and such ought spend their time NOT reading garbage on
sites spewing that crap (goodness knows there's enough of them).

Stations are being built and I'd challenge anyone in a Volt to complain about acceleration, ride, steering, as well as cornering/maneuvering.
Nice in all those categories - temporary setback aside (geez - no one is perfect right?)

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