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GM Says It Has Fixed Volt


General Motors (GM) says it has fixed its plug-in hybrid Volt, six weeks after regulators said they were investigating the risk of battery-related fires.

"The Volt has always been safe to drive," said Mary Barra, senior vice president of global product development, during a media conference Thursday. "Now we will go the extra mile to ensure our customers' peace of mind in the days and weeks following a severe crash."

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GM says its dealers will make repairs to the 8,000 Volts that have been sold.

GM said it will take three steps to address the issues raised in testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found two "combustion events," including a fire in a test vehicle three weeks after a crash simulation and another six days after a severe-impact lab test. NHTSA launched its investigation Nov. 25.

GM said it will strengthen the structure around the battery pack, offering protection in a severe side collision. Additionally, because the coolant leaked and came into contact with a circuit board near the battery after the NHTSA crash simulation, causing an electrical short, GM will add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels. It will add a bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to prevent overfilling.

Changes will be made to the existing fleet of about 8,000 Volts at dealerships starting in February. Changes to Volts still in production will begin imminently. The cost was not disclosed.

Barra noted that, during more than 11 months on the road and more than 20 million miles of driving by owners, Volt has not had any real-world incidents similar to the laboratory crash. She said no changes to the battery itself or its liquid cooling system are planned.

Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, says about 250 of the 8,000 Volt owners requested loaners or buybacks, which GM had offered, and the vast majority of the 250 requested loaners. While the NTSB has not said whether its investigation will continue, Reuss says "we are optimistic thisfixwill have a positive impact."

December was the Volt's best month for sales, with 1,529 sold, GM said Wednesday. It sold 7,671 over the entire year. Publicity surrounding the investigation did not reduce demand for the Volt, Reuss says, but he acknowledged that "the true demand is unknown."

"This remains a halo car for us," he said. "It is a breakthrough."

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