Apr 18

Garage fire ignites controversey over the Chevrolet Volt

 

News about a home garage fire in Barkhamsted, Conn. has prompted pundits to show their stripes as either for or against GM, the Volt, electric cars and other somewhat related subjects.

Straight news stories over the weekend were more fair minded – as they should be – but opinions also flared, some with a rhetorical intensity seemingly greater than the actual damage the Volt allegedly caused.

Likewise, those in favor of the proposed roll out of electric vehicles urged benefit of the doubt.


The award-winning Volt has its share of critics too.

In fact, while GM-Volt.com is in this latter category, waiting and seeing is the only intellectually honest position. In the absence of evidence to do otherwise, it is what the authorities are doing.

As of this writing, nothing has been reported as to what caused a garage fire containing an electrically converted 1987 Suzuki Samurai SUV and a 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

The house in which the blaze occurred belongs to Storm and Dee Connors. They reported the fire around 4:15 a.m. Thursday. A firewall prevented the rest of the house from catching fire.

Connors is himself a volunteer firefighter. He converted the Samurai years ago, and said he did not think the electric vehicles caused the fire.

This did not stop criticism from heating up from such sources as the National Legal and Policy Center which made inductive leaps broader than a fire break dug to contain a spreading wildfire.

From a fallacious springboard, a screed ensued about GM’s quality, taxpayer-supported bailouts, and more, prompted only by a supposition about the house fire that has yet to be proven.

Other reports, such as by the UK’s Daily Mail also cast doubt on electric vehicles with the title “So much for carbon footprint: Green driver’s hybrid cars may have sparked garage fire.”

Of course it is their right by the First Amendment to editorialize all they wish, but so much for being innocent until proven guilty – note also that one of the more severe verbal lashings was published by a legal advocacy group.

On the other side of the fence, GM spokesman Rob Peterson was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying, “We suspect the Volt was more the victim of the fire than the cause.”

Actually, when we called Peterson Friday, he broached the subject, and made sure we knew where things stood, saying he knew GM-Volt’s readers will want to know.

“Everybody seems to be leaping to this conclusion, that it is somehow related to the Volt,” Peterson said, “Let’s let the experts do their jobs. Let’s let the fire marshal determine this. There’s a lot of circumstances that go into this. And there’s a lot of engineering that went in the Chevrolet Volt.”

Peterson said Global Electric Vehicle Executive, Doug Parks wrote a statement on behalf of Chevrolet, but one can nonetheless observe how polarizing the Volt has been from this incident.

“You can already see some of the right wing pundits lining up, trying to take their jabs without even waiting to hear from the fire marshal,” Peterson said.


Although it is still under investigation, the Connecticut fire in which a Volt and a home-made EV were burned prompted Chevrolet Volt Global Vehicle Line Executive Doug Parks to reiterate the company’s safety commitment.

Larry Gillen, fire chief for the Village of Riverton, one of the communities that responded to the fire, told the Detroit Free Press no cause has yet been determined.

He said GM will be sending its own investigator as well.

It is possible the house wiring was overloaded by two EVs charging at once. It is possible something did go wrong with either the Volt or Samurai.

We don’t know. So far all we have seen for certain is that some people’s passions are smoldering under the surface – more ready to flare up than dry brush in a desert.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 80


  1. 1
    Xiaowei1

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (6:35 am)

    hmmm. Next time there is a fire anywhere, let’s just say, “the UK’s Daily Mail could have lit that fire!” its true… they COULD have… improbable… but true!

    Please excuse the over generalisation, but media in the UK are not known for quality journalism – that much is not improbable and is very much true…


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    Mikeinatl

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (6:38 am)

    There was a home-built electric Suzuki SUV also being charged in the garage? That is the first time I have heard that little piece of evidence. If I am the Fire Marshall I might lable that Suspect #1.
    But obviously the only prudent thing to do is wait until the actual cause has been determined, by both the local authorities and by GMs investigators.

    But I will say this. If there is some defect in the Volt or its charger that causd this fire, this event could be a blessing in disguise. It is FAR better to find out now and be able to address the problem than later when the damages and losses could be much greater. Remember, no one was injured and the damage was contained to the garage.

    I am always a bit surprised and perplexed to see pundits politicize the Volt. Volt was not designed as a political statement, but rather an ingenious engineering solution to some of our nations biggest problems. Every new wave of tecnology that brought major improvement has had its detractors, from the first electrical, natural gas and phone lines run into homes to the first automobiles, planes and trains. But the truth of a genuinely better idea always seems to win. The Volt does not lend itself to a ten second sound-bite. It is a slightly more complicated story, like many game-changing technologies. But patient explanation and raving fans will eventually prevail.

    Now, lets all wait for the facts of this fire and move on from there.

    Go Volt!


  3. 3
    nasaman

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (6:40 am)

    For some perspective, we all need to remember that the energy content of 2 gallons of ordinary gasoline is enough to propel an average conventional car roughly the same distance as a fully-charged Volt battery. Further, gasoline is far more flammable than ANY of the Volt’s solid or liquid components (except, of course, for the contents of the Volt’s own gasoline tank). BTW, the Volt’s gas tank is pressurized, thereby making it very unlikely to allow gasoline vapors to escape.

    Finally, millions of homeowners (myself included) have portable tanks of gasoline in their garages or utility rooms for use in riding mowers, trimmers, emergency generators, outboard motors, etc, etc, and while these tanks are nominally air tight to prevent highly-flammable gas vapors from escaping, the modern portable tank is made of plastic (thus easily melted or burned thru by sustained external flames). I believe it’s highly unlikely the Volt itself could have been the cause of this garage fire and that the State Fire Marshall’s investigation should clearly establish that.


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    Raymondjram

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:03 am)

    AS an EE, and after reading about all the advanced engineering that went into the Chevy Volt, I will predict that the Volt was NOT the cause of the fire. I predict that the fire was started by the circumstantial overloading of the charging circuit, feeding two EVs. The owner could also be an EE, but I don’t believe he took extra care with the charging system.

    The images I saw of the burned Volt shows that it suffered external burns, not internal. When the reports arrive, I know that the Volt will be excluded as the cause.

    Now, does the First Amendment obligate the press to print a correction article, with the public apology of the publisher, and with the same size and location of the original incorrect article? I thought so!

    Raymond


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    charlie h

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:57 am)

    The right-wing press is full of jerks who distort the news to their own ends? Golly. Who knew?

    Now for the bad news… the lawyers are going to be salivating over this. New Technology + Tragedy = Opportunity.


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    EWiggins

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (8:07 am)

    Raymondjram: AS an EE, and after reading about all the advanced engineering that went into the Chevy Volt, I will predict that the Volt was NOT the cause of the fire. I predict that the fire was started by the circumstantial overloading of the charging circuit, feeding two EVs. The owner could also be an EE, but I don’t believe he took extra care with the charging system.The images I saw of the burned Volt shows that it suffered external burns, not internal. When the reports arrive, I know that the Volt will be excluded as the cause.Now, does the First Amendment obligate the press to print a correction article, with the public apology of the publisher, and with the same size and location of the original incorrect article? I thought so!Raymond

    So the pictures did not show the volt burned inside? I would think if the Volt only suffered damage on the outisde and not as much inside or underneath, then the volt probably did not cause it. As for overloading the circuit, isn’t a circuit breaker suppose to prevent this? How many amps does the 120 volt charger pull?

    I would also not rule out arson. It would be one way to get bad publicity going on GM or the Volt. A lot of people are pissed about GM getting money from government, even if GM pays it back. Think of how many people will hear/read ‘Volt caused a house to burn’, but will never hear ‘Volt was cleared of house burn.’

    I sure hope the Volt did not cause this otherwise this will be a major blow to the Volt. I am sure this has/will cause some loss of sales of Volts.


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    flyingfish

     

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (8:28 am)

    From a selfish standpoint, maybe this will keep the price down on the Volt until they become available at my local dealer! I’m sure the dealers have been clapping there hands in the over how much the Volts will be in demand based on $4-5 per gal gas.


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    Texas

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (8:52 am)

    329,500 vehicle fires, 565 civilian deaths, 1,825 civilian injuries were reported in 2002.
    Public fire departments responded to 329,500 vehicle fires in the United States during
    2002. These fires caused 565 civilian deaths, 1,825 civilian injuries and $1,392,000,000
    in direct property damage.

    http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/osvehicle.pdf

    Perspective…


  9. 9
    lousloot

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (8:54 am)

    Nothing to see here, move along…

    It was just a matter of time before someone had a grage fire with a VOLT parked inside… And typical that
    it would be blamed. Will this hurt the Volt? I don’t think so… at this point, any press is good press. It gives “us” a chance to explain to our friends how electric cars work.

    Yea, electrical fires will be caused by overloaded/faulty circuits caused by the amperage pulled by a recharging Volt.

    charlie h:
    The right-wing press is full of jerks who distort the news to their own ends?Golly.Who knew?

    Now for the bad news… the lawyers are going to be salivating over this.New Technology + Tragedy = Opportunity.

    You mean the NIMBY croud? Whoever your hobgoblin is i suppose… politics is everywhere — and unfortunately the VOLT is very political. Lets face it, “electric car burns down garage” is a catchy tag-line, and one we will be seeing more of.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (9:46 am)

    If I were a PR firm hired to derail electric vehicles.. what would i do? I’d put out news stories blaming electric cars for any scary event. Garage fire? High electric bill? Yep!

    Someone sitting in a blackout who even thinks electric cars are to blame would be quickly turned against them. Especially if its a major city and it is very hot, or cold. Especially if it goes on for days and people die. There would be angry mobs lashing out against all EV’s. Look out for that story on fox news!


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    Engineer

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (9:50 am)

    Guess what? They have insurance. so They’ll be getting another one.

    But I like how professional the video was, no one made any conjectures to indite the Volt or electric cars in any way.

    What I want to see out of this, is how well the battery survived after the fire. I’m sure GM will be interested as well.


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    CorvetteGuy

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:11 am)

    A “home-made” electric car, or the Volt with years of testing and development behind it…..
    Hmmm. Let me think… Which of these could it be..?
    If I were a reporter looking for the big headline… Think. Think. Think.


  13. 13
    Mark Z

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:19 am)

    Everyone should be be reading a most excellent post made over the weekend in the forums that pretty much clears the Volt as being a cause.

    http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?7421-volt-burned-in-ct.&p=67816#post67816

    I hope Jeff will re-write the 5th paragraph of today’s topic to move the last word closer to the garage and away from the Volt. Here’s how it should be written:

    “As of this writing, nothing has been reported as to what caused a garage fire containing an electrically converted 1987 Suzuki Samurai SUV and a 2011 Chevrolet Volt.”


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    Adarondax

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:30 am)

    The following appears in the most recent blog posting of burned garage owner Storm Connors:

    http://www.stormselectric.blogspot.com/

    “This is certainly not a recommended safe practice.

    Hook together all the extension cords you can find and plug in the rectifier. See what the charge rate is in amps. If it is over 10 amps, borrow some more extension cords. (The extension cords lower the voltage.)”

    Sounds like he may have been pushing the envelope. This article is a really good follow-up

    http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1058475_electric-car-fire-flaming-garage-shows-media-ignorance


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    Tim Hart

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:32 am)

    The only reason that could possibly be newsworthy is that a Volt was in that garage. And the Volt is in the great position of being the car that’s on everybodies mind. And that is because it is at present the best, most advanced car in the world.


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    Nelson

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:33 am)

    Facts are facts.

    · According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one out of five reported fires is a car fire. In fact, 18 percent of all fires takes place on a highway or other road and involves a motor vehicle.

    · Also according to the NFPA, 33 car fires are reported every hour across the country, with one person per day dying in a car fire accident in the years between 2002 and 2005.

    · According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 258,000 vehicle fires in 2007 and 385 deaths. There were 1,675 injuries.

    http://www.chandlerlawgroup.com/library/national-vehicle-fire-statistics.cfm

    Volt#671
    NPNS!


  17. 17
    Jackson

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:51 am)

    The Volt has an onboard data communications capability, and loads of sensors. Why not give it the ability to call for help; with alerts to a smartphone, blowing the horn, and/or making a direct call to the fire department? This would be a “first” as far as I know. With minimal development cost, A Volt could quickly become known as an asset in a garage fire (regardless of cause).


  18. 18
    Jeff Cobb

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:52 am)

    Mark Z,

    The subject in this sentence that caught fire is the garage. Is this sentence really that ambiguous or suggestive the Volt was the cause? I am unclear whether you mean anything else by saying how it “should” be written.

    I wrote: “As of this writing, nothing has been reported as to what caused a garage containing [insert what was contained by the garage] to catch fire.”

    The question alluded to is what caused the garage to catch fire?

    Further, it is true the Suzuki and Volt did “catch fire” as well as the garage. So far no potential source has been cleared that we know of.

    But no where do I say the Volt should be looked at as a likely cause for the fire. Is that your concern?

    The sentence is accurate. I agree your sentence is a bit clearer. I thought about changing it just as a courtesy, and would change it if I thought what I wrote was outright inaccurate. I think however that by the rules of English the sentence is OK, and the article is abundantly plain from start to finish that the Volt is not being said to be the fire’s cause!

    It would be inconsistent for me to suggest the Volt was the fire’s cause in one sentence when the rest of the piece says otherwise.

    Is not the over-riding topic about giving the car the benefit of the doubt? Do I not say that up front before the sentence in question? Does it not say above this paragraph what the Volt “allegedly caused?” (As I write as coming from critics who I imply are not fair minded).

    I don’t mind fixing mistakes, Mark, but this is splitting hairs.
    :)


  19. 19
    Steverino

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:56 am)

    Time for Autoweak to do another staged video. This time they place a Volt in a garage and set fire to it, while the Prius (kept outside the garage) is deemed undamaged and sent for fire extinguishers.

    Was there a Volt in Japan when the reactors blew? This explains so much. :-)


  20. 20
    Jackson

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (10:59 am)

    “You can already see some of the right wing pundits lining up, trying to take their jabs without even waiting to hear from the fire marshal,” Peterson said.

    They were already in that line, already seated for that show. Many already equate the Volt with the Prius (which they see as a left-winger’s “smug-mobile”), believe it’s main reason for existence is “green-ness” (when in fact it is energy security), or were already pissed by “government motors” and the highly visible endorsement of the Obama administration.

    This illustrates a good reason why we should avoid injecting political bias on this site: there is already far too much of it out there.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:00 am)

    According to the United States Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated average of 316,600 intentional fires are reported to fire departments in the United States each year causing injuries to 7,825 firefighters and civilians. In 2006, ten firefighters died as a result of arson. In addition to needless injury and death, an estimated $1.1 billion in direct property loss occurs annually.
    http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/arson/aaweek.shtml

    Officials have not ruled out arson from the embittered Hummer owners on Center Hill Road.
    http://www.wfsb.com/news/27541598/detail.html


  22. 22
    Jackson

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:16 am)

    Truman,

    This is only a suggestion:

    Download this pic (or go to Google Images and download your own):

    f21mdj.jpg

    Go to http://www.gravatar.com and follow the instructions to link it to the email address you use to make a comment: it will replace the smiley face in the upper left.

    We can’t have enough dead presidents here. ;-)


  23. 23
    neutron

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:20 am)

    (click to show comment)


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    Jackson

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:24 am)

    neutron: I am not a “right winger” by any stretch of imagination but this comment is a stupid cheap shot.

    Well, you don’t listen to the talk shows, that’s for sure.

    neutron: The two major headwinds I see for the VOLT is it was over promised and under delivered (many folks are very forgiving on this point) and, for now, the price is too high.

    Hmmm. You sound more like an electron to me.


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    Loboc

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:25 am)

    This guy is a hobbyist. It is way more likely that his hobby (electrical circuitry, soldering iron, temporary jumpers, extension cords, etc.) caused a fire than anything else. I seriously doubt that proper permits and inspections were done in his garage!


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    neutron

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:39 am)

    (click to show comment)


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    neutron

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (11:43 am)

    Jackson,

    You are correct.
    Every time try to listen everyone seems to think is is better to talk at one and shout down a position before it is presented. So, in my opinion, it is not worth my time and it is more interesting to find info on sites like this and other blogs.


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    Mark Z

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:12 pm)

    Jeff,

    I agree it’s not a mistake, but imagine a reporter quoting the end of the paragraph to change the meaning. With the media on a witch hunt against the Volt, it’s important not to publish any text that can be misinterpreted.

    Also, many people scan the topic, and those few words at the end of the paragraph could get in their brain without the earlier text. It bothered me when I read it and I had to reread the entire paragraph to correct the perception of what caused the fire.

    After thinking about this entire news story, I hope one thing does occur. People need to clean out their garages of fire hazard materials to decrease the chance of this from happening again. EV owners must make sure their circuits are not being overloaded and are in excellent condition.


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    Noah Nehm

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:16 pm)

    Back in 2008, a Prius modified by Hybrids Plus, a very solid and reputable firm, caught on fire due to a manufacturing error. By 2009 the company went out of business. The point is, if a fire can happen to a professional PHEV conversion, it is more than likely that it happened to one built by a hobbyist.

    When all is said and done, it will be the Suzuki that will be fingered as the culprit.


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    Noel Park

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:19 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: A “home-made” electric car, or the Volt with years of testing and development behind it…..
    Hmmm. Let me think… Which of these could it be..?

    #12

    My thought as well. +1

    Or the garage wiring. I bet that garage wiring will become an issue going forward. The Volt only draws 15-16 amps at 220, but the BEVs require a 40 amp circuit, so I wonder if that makes them more problematic, especially with jury rigged do it yourself garage wiring? I wonder how many amps the Samuri was drawing?


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    Jeff Cobb

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:21 pm)

    Mark Z,

    So you are telling me you really want me to change it any way?


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    Dave K.

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:26 pm)

    A fire needs air, fuel, and heat to burn. We know the garage contained enough fuel and air. Let’s give the investigators time to locate the heat source. We don’t have the knowledge to point fingers at this time.

    My Volt #555 is performing very well. Have had no issues with recharge or heat in any way or form. Now have well over 3000 miles on the odometer with less than a tank of gas being used.

    NPNS

    VoltX2.jpg?t=1303143834


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:47 pm)

    Mark Z,

    Mark, I changed it at your request. Right or wrong, it’s not a big deal, but thought I’d stick to my guns initially anyway.

    I think people are right when they bring up topics of ICE cars burning or nearly any other sort of mishap. Accidents happen. It is the collateral damage of progress. Not desirable, but they have happened for all the history of technology, and are bound to happen again.

    People have been immolated in burning cars. Nothing so severe thank goodness has happened that I know of with a production EV – yet, but certain people will still latch onto anything with little reasonable justification.

    Either they are not thinking clearly (certainly possible in many cases), or they are willfully twisting issues for their own purpose.

    Of the two, the latter is more reprehensible from people who ought to know better. One of the issues I broached is one of intellectual honesty, fair-mindedness, and higher values this society says it was founded upon.

    What does it say when advocates for these great values can’t even stick to them in order to prove their points?

    It is a sad state of affairs with the polemics we hash through today. Deliberate muddying of issues, ignoring of all the facts – this is simply a disingenuous pushing of subjective opinions and agendas at all costs.

    I do not think the ends justify the means. Your concern over my sentence being grabbed out of context further solidifies this moral and ethical crisis which is the reason why America is so divisive on so many topics, the Volt being just one of the latest.


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    Lithiguy

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:53 pm)

    Saints they are. I’m sure when Toyota had their acelerator problems (which were proven to be driver error except for one case), these same GM people said the same thing, “let’s all be calm here and let the investigation take its course. Remember, innocent until proven guilty”. I believe that was very very very likely the way GM handled the Toyota situation.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (12:58 pm)

    CorvetteGuy,

    Yeah, and an automaker never had a recall before. Shake your head man! Wether or not this was caused by the Volt, YES< it is POSSIBLE that it was. That is not far fetched.


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    Jackson

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:11 pm)

    neutron: The battery is in a struggle to get to 40 miles per charge and the generator gives a milage equivalent of 30 to 40 mpg has slowed me way down.
    These revelations, as posted on this site during development, did cause a lot of comments among this group.

    I’d suggest that you look at the forum posts and comments written by actual Volt owners before assessing battery range and CS-mode efficiencies. Much of what you’ve heard came from car magazine reporters who routinely thrash the vehicles they are reporting about (in order to get a feel for their performance). Also, many of the early real world range reports were made in cold weather; a factor which will have a negative effect on battery range, including for the competition.

    neutron: You are correct.
    Every time try to listen everyone seems to think is is better to talk at one and shout down a position before it is presented. So, in my opinion, it is not worth my time and it is more interesting to find info on sites like this and other blogs.

    I can’t watch the Fox shows either, for that same reason. It’s never a discussion, it’s a shouting match; with everyone talking at once. FWIW I was actually talking about the radio talk shows; where this isn’t generally the case (with the notable exception of Shoutin’ Shaun “Call-itus Interruptus” Hannity). Actually, I guess you might call it “monitoring” more than “listening.”

    neutron: I am not a “right winger” by any stretch of imagination but this comment is a stupid cheap shot.

    My purpose in bringing it up at all is to point out that you likely haven’t heard most of the cheap shots: the Right’s dissing of the Volt is consistent and vicious; and all of the mouthpieces are united in their opposition. (Most of them had lucrative ad contracts with GM, which were pulled following the 2008 election; enough to explain most of the vitriol, IMO).


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:20 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: A “home-made” electric car, or the Volt with years of testing and development behind it…..
    Hmmm. Let me think… Which of these could it be..?

    I’m going to poke the bear in its den…..

    That’s one way of looking at it but the fact is:
    A “home-made” electric car that has been there for maybe a few years BEFORE the Volt and has obviously never burned the garage, then the Volt is introduced to the dynamics.
    Let me think… Which of these could it be..?

    /my 2cents, I blame the heat that the electrons made in the copper wires. :-P


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:22 pm)

    Top Gear at it again? lol

    Another used battery pack available? No, NOT the Suzuki’s.


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:24 pm)

    Dave K.: My Volt #555 is performing very well. Have had no issues with recharge or heat in any way or form.

    But you don’t have a 100% EV AND the Volt charging at the same time. So heat won’t be any issue for you.

    /just poking the bear…..


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    CaptJackSparrow

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:26 pm)

    T 1: Another used battery pack available? No, NOT the Suzuki’s.

    I was thinking the same thing. Man that batt pack could power my trailer home all night!!!

    /maybe 2 trailer homes in the trailer park!


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:31 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: I was thinking the same thing. Man that batt pack could power my trailer home all night!!!

    /maybe 2 trailer homes in the trailer park!

    Possibly not after being cooked at house-fire temperatures. I think GM (and LG) should claim Kudos if it can still store any charge at all.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:35 pm)

    Jackson: Possibly not after being cooked at house-fire temperatures. I think GM could call for Kudos if it can store any charge at all.

    I aint seen any pics of the Volt from this fire but IMHO, the batt pack is most likely still 100% GOOD.

    /but If GM dont wantit, i’ll gladly take it off their hands.
    //sadly for me thoug, they’ll want it for possible “Failure Analysis” examinations. :-(


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:51 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: I aint seen any pics of the Volt from this fire

    akjyuq.jpg

    2uhlunl.jpg

    See also video link in article above.


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    Mark Z

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:55 pm)

    Jeff,

    Thank you. I appreciate your comments on the subject and would normally not be sensitive except for the media attention. Above all, I and many others appreciate the excellent work you are doing to keep GM-Volt as the best resource for information on this amazing vehicle.


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    charlie h

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (1:59 pm)

    (click to show comment)


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (2:02 pm)

    Folks, garage fires happen.

    They regularly happen as a result of vehicle fires.

    That’s why some folks get an insurance break when their garage is a separate structure from their home.

    There’s no conclusion as to which (or if either) vehicle started this fire.

    Vehicle fires aren’t going to go the way of the dinosaur because we switch to electric vehicles.

    My gut feeling is that the Volt did not start this fire. And considering the Volt only contained a few gallons of gasoline (unlike the 20 or 30 gallons most gas-burners would hold), it was far less of an accelerant than most cars on the road would have been.

    And that was very likely a large part of what kept the fire from causing further damage. And loss of life.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (2:03 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: IMHO, the batt pack is most likely still 100% GOOD.

    CaptJackSparrow: they’ll want it for possible “Failure Analysis” examinations.

    I’d really like to hear the results of that analysis. Could be, you’re right; and if so, that speaks very well of the Volt under extreme conditions, such as a high-speed collision.

    What we should see in this incident is it’s potential for good news, as well as the unfair, ignorant press screed we’re likely to see in the near term.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (2:09 pm)

    Jackson: See also video link in article above.

    Great Gooogly Moooogly!
    That was a Car-BQue!

    /i’d still take the batt pack off their hands lol…. :-)


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (2:55 pm)

    Im sure there were never any garage fires caused by GASOLINE>


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (3:13 pm)

    i’m a little teacup
    full of hate
    touch my little handle
    ooooh, that feels great


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (3:19 pm)

    Adarondax: The following appears in the most recent blog posting of burned garage owner Storm Connors:
    http://www.stormselectric.blogspot.com/
    “This is certainly not a recommended safe practice.
    Hook together all the extension cords you can find and plug in the rectifier. See what the charge rate is in amps. If it is over 10 amps, borrow some more extension cords. (The extension cords lower the voltage.)”
    Sounds like he may have been pushing the envelope. This article is a really good follow-up
    http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1058475_electric-car-fire-flaming-garage-shows-media-ignorance

    The guy’s blog shows an appalling disregard for basic engineering analysis and safety practices in the conversion of his Suzuki. That he was figuratively playing with fire became very literal.

    It makes me wonder if he’d started to tamper with either the Volt or its charger interface.

    This is all speculation, but based on his blog, I think he’d created a time bomb in his garage that would have gone off whether the Volt was there or not.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (3:26 pm)

    Jackson: What we should see in this incident is it’s potential for good news, (my emphasis) as well as the unfair, ignorant press screed we’re likely to see in the near term.

    ATTN GM: BULLSEYE, JACKSON —SMARTEST COMMENT SO FAR TODAY— & ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!!


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (3:36 pm)

    After a pretty strong burning smell and a near epic disaster here – I almost had a fire in my toaster in my kitchen. Can you imagine the press: “Common GE products may have caused catastrophic house fire”. ;-)

    You have to think with the guy’s blog entries about voltage, extension cords and so on – he may have wired himself a mess and paid the price with a fire by overloading a circuit. If both cars were on a 30A breaker 120V circuit, who knows what was going on heat-wise on that wire.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (4:30 pm)

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    Apr 18th, 2011 (5:26 pm)

    Re Jason’s note above: The Hartford Courant says, specifically, that the fire rekindled in the Volt.

    They could be wrong, of course. Time will tell.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (5:37 pm)

    Well, IMHO, this has not changed my mind to order a 2012 Chevy Volt, as soon as my local dealer is ready to take my order!!!!

    :-)


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (5:52 pm)

    Hey, I have a question.
    Does the Volts home charge station have to be installed by a specific company or whatever? I recall they (GM) had to contract a company to “Assess” the home/Garage before installing.
    I wonder if that happened? Did the install tech check the wire gauges to make sure there wan enough for both cars to charge?
    Or did the owner rig it himself? I know the converted hooptie was but how bout the Volts charge station?


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (5:57 pm)

    When your experiment has a sample size of one, it’s pretty hard to draw any conclusions.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (6:07 pm)

    Xiaowei1
    Please excuse the over generalisation, but media in the UK are not known for quality journalism

    Perhaps you would like to pit the National Enquirer against the Financial Times…

    The UK’s broadsheets are generally very high quality. The tabloids are certainly not as high quality, but the generalisation that “media in the UK are not known for quality journalism” is not excusable.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:01 pm)

    The thing that is making me concerned here is the length of time it is taking to come up with a definitive cause of the fire. You would think if it was a simple case of a cigarette dropped in the wrong place or even arsen, the fire marshall would have already came forth and said as much. Praying to God that the Volt doesn’t get the blame.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:31 pm)

    charlie h: The Hartford Courant says, specifically, that the fire rekindled in the Volt.

    If, as the Cap’n suspects, the battery somehow survived the fire; burned insulation on the wiring might have allowed conductors to touch: resulting in a short-circuit (and re-ignition). Of course, this is only speculation; and not in any way a suggestion concerning the start of the first fire.

    2a0m4k9.jpg


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:34 pm)

    Fire Update from GM:

    Updated: April 18, 2011, 5:30 p.m. EDT

    “Our engineering experts have inspected the Chevrolet Volt severely damaged in a garage fire in Barkhamsted, CT. We believe the findings indicate the Volt was damaged by the fire, not the cause.

    “The garage and its contents, including the Volt and a hand-built Suzuki Samurai EV, were heavily damaged in last Thursday’s fire.

    “While the Volt’s battery pack sustained damage, it was not extensive enough or of the type that would suggest that it caused the fire. In addition, there is clear evidence based on moderate damage to the cordset and charging system that neither component caused the fire.

    “The vehicles had been left in the garage for investigators and insurers to review when a second incident occurred earlier today. Smoke was seen coming from the damaged Volt and the fire department responded quickly. We continue to support the department in its investigation, sending our experts back to Connecticut to continue working with fire marshals.

    “We’ve spent more than a decade developing the technology which went into Volt. As such, it has a wide range of active and passive safety systems to ensure our customers are protected.

    “The most important thing to remember is that everyone is safe and fire investigators are working diligently to determine the cause. We’ll share more information as it becomes available.”

    - Doug Parks, Global Electric Vehicle Executive


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:52 pm)

    You know what? I hate to say it but the guy who owned these two electric cars is a clown.

    No, seriously, he is a clown! A professional clown! Seriously!

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/storm-connors/1b/100/4a5


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (7:58 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow:
    Hey,I have a question.
    Does the Volts home charge station have to be installed by a specific company or whatever? I recall they (GM) had to contract a company to “Assess” the home/Garage before installing.
    I wonder if that happened? Did the install tech check the wire gauges to make sure there wan enough for both cars to charge?
    Or did the owner rig it himself? I know the converted hooptie was but how bout the Volts charge station?

    The Volt home charge station does NOT have to be installed by a specific company. However, local regulations may require installation and inspection be performed by people meeting certain qualifications.

    If, however, you choose to benefit from certain subsidy programs, you will have to use installers provided by the folks running the subsidy program.

    In my case, I had a licensed (and practicing) electrician install the SPX charging station that I had purchased. I provided the breakers and other parts. It is in my nature to usually not take advantage of subsidies or discount programs. For instance, I despise the grocery store loyalty programs, and tend to shop at stores that don’t have them. I do intend to claim the $7500 tax credit at my next filing.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (8:23 pm)

    CaptJackSparrow: I blame the heat that the electrons made in the copper wires.

    Every time I’ve seen reports of fires on tv there is ALWAYS a report from the Fire Marshall as to the cause. Did the reporter that jumped on this story EVER get a quote from the Marshall, or did he just run with the story to get his paycheck for the week.

    I agree. It was probably the old wiring in an old house that could not handle the load. The “SmartCharger” for the Volt would have cut itself off if the line voltage was not right.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (8:31 pm)

    It will be interesting to see if the news even reports that it wasn’t the Volt. I suspect not since that’s not interesting or damaging. As stated earlier I would imagine that it was bad house wiring or the custom built electric SUV sitting next to the production (has to actually meet standards) Volt.

    I feel very bad for that family. They are trying to do some good for the world, this happens, and now they are in the middle of a political cluster. I hope GM will allow them to get on the short list for another Volt.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (9:16 pm)

    Jackson,

    Ah ha… Did not know about the ad contracts. But true to form entertainers, like Rush…., will do and say anything to get listeners that are looking to hear any negative about anything… true or probably not.


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    Apr 18th, 2011 (9:36 pm)

    Jackson: I’d suggest that you look at the forum posts and comments written by actual Volt owners before assessing battery range and CS-mode efficiencies.Much of what you’ve heard came from car magazine reporters who routinely thrash the vehicles they are reporting about (in order to get a feel for their performance). Also, many of the early real world range reports were made in cold weather; a factor which will have a negative effect on battery range, including for the competition.

    re: My comments about battery range and generator MPG are gleaned from many sources including Volt drivers. I also have experience driving hybrid cars and they do not always live up to their claims either. Living in a COLD climate (Michigan) amplifies these issues. (I do not remember reading clear disclaimers about cold weather issues in the ads).
    I assume time will tell the real ranges when there are enough drivers operating in the average conditions across the US. Besides, as noted in one of my earlier posts, let us see what changes there will be in the 2012 Volt. Will they tweak thing to make the original claims the norm?


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (12:36 am)

    Gotta love it — Fox News Nation is running a story (stolen from the Daily Mail) under a patently false headline — “Two Chevy Volts Catch on Fire in One Week”, and not a single commentor below the story even notices — too busy spouting their single-minded, right-wing rhetoric.

    http://nation.foxnews.com/chevy-volt/2011/04/18/two-chevy-volts-catch-fire-one-week


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (6:39 am)

    I’ve been reading some of the ridiculous stories regarding the Volt and how it somehow caused the fire (noting a lack of any evidence to prove this). Moreover, i have been reading ridiculous posts by people who seem to think because the government in the US helped GM, GM’s products are of poor quality, socialism has taken over (not that they seem to know what socialism is), and for some reason the government as a whole is evil (not saying why its evil but i won’t go into that), etc… I’m mean, there is hysteria that the volt caused a fire, and no objectivity at all; oh, and It’s all Obamas fault for some reason. did i miss something? can someone please explain 2 things:

    1) why is it the concept of socialism is SOOOO hated in the US? Or should I say selected parts because any government must have some aspects of socialism (pensions anyone?); and you do know governments set up corporations all the time, yes?
    2) don’t take this personally – why is it there are so many crazy people who can’t see logic living in one country? what the heck does Obama have to do with the Volt being burnt in a garage fire? I know a lot of crazy people here in OZ, but no-one would make such a leap of faith and blame our prime minister for things unrelated to government – well the opposition would give it a go, but even they have limits.

    Sorry, from an outside stand point, most posts I read against the volt seem to have absolutely no basis – it’s like saying the moon is round, because we have 2 thumbs… I personally have found the volt to be one of the best cars ever made. It just makes so much sense, but still there are so many people having a go at the car for no reason what so ever. Its new people! It’s expensive because it’s new! When all the parts are mass produced, the price will come down! Go bag a BMW for being expensive…

    Sorry for the rant I’m just jealous I don’t have the opportunity to buy a volt! I also apologise for bagging on a select group of US citizens and am prepared to once again be flamed…


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (8:50 am)

    article-0-0BA5F3BB00000578-745_224x356.jpg Storm Connors

    Some guy named “Storm” (also a volunteer fireman) converts a Suzuki Samurai to electric drive, then charges his new Volt along with his DIY (Do It Yourself) electric Suzuki and burns down his DIY garage (built 40 years ago) and has not one, but two stories of his Chevy Volt catching fire posted in two days:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1378314/GM-investigate-Chevy-Volt-hybrid-sparks-second-week.html

    This incompetent DIYer has to be the worst Chevy Volt customer of the year.
    Do not get into any boat this guy has built…


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    Less-than-tree-hugger

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    Apr 19th, 2011 (9:49 am)

    Now – I am glad no one is hurt in this incident. That said – I liked the part in the article about this couple’s carbon footprint. It will take them more than a lifetime to get that back down to what my “less-than-tree-hugger” carbon footprint will be for my lifetime One burned garage is emits a lot of CO, not to mention a lot of other noxi-toxi into the air. Do you add these kinds of things to one’s carbon footprint? I am a bit unsure of the rules.


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (11:27 am)

    First, the serious reaction. We are all glad nobody was injured. All reasonable persons will refrain from passing judgment until the facts are determined. We all hope the interested parties refrain from attempting to influence the FM’s investigation and that the FM is competent.

    Next, the humor reaction. Of course people are going to have fun with this story. Yes, some people will try to use very pointed humor if their opinion of the Volt or GM is negative, but that is to be expected. However, we all have to keep a sense of humor and understand that comedians and wanna-be comedians could not lay-off a story like this that is simply just asking to be the source of jokes. Do not have a thin skin. Let it pass. The more you react with anger to the humor the more jokes that will be made. I know I laughed at some of the jokes I heard.


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (11:32 am)

    Independence Hall:
    First, the serious reaction. We are all glad nobody was injured. All reasonable persons will refrain from passing judgment until the facts are determined. We all hope the interested parties refrain from attempting to influence the FM’s investigation and that the FM is competent.

    Next, the humor reaction. Of course people are going to have fun with this story. Yes, some people will try to use very pointed humor if their opinion of the Volt or GM is negative, but that is to be expected. However, we all have to keep a sense of humor and understand that comedians and wanna-be comedians could not lay-off a story like this that is simply just asking to be the source of jokes. Do not have a thin skin. Let it pass. The more you react with anger to the humor the more jokes that will be made. I know I laughed at some of the jokes I heard.

    What an odd response and analysis. Most of what I’ve seen out there is not people “having fun with this story”, it’s mean-spirited, ignorant, small-minded attack completely devoid of humor — for instance this Fox News Nation story, that gets the story completely wrong.

    http://nation.foxnews.com/chevy-volt/2011/04/18/two-chevy-volts-catch-fire-one-week


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (11:47 am)

    Christof,

    What an odd response to my analysis. Obvious mean spirited attacks made before the facts are in are not appropriate and should be taken for what they are. Of course people with an agenda, both for and against the Volt and GM are going to attempt to capitalize on anything they can, justifiable or not. If you find that surprising, then you need to get out more often.

    My position is that you have to expect people to make jokes about the issue. A good friend of mine was asking friends to come up with new names for the Volt based upon the news story. Yes, some of the responses were funny. That doesn’t mean that the people participating have any agenda for or against the Volt or GM. Just as I remember people making jokes about Toyota automobiles accelerating out of control. Some was pointed and with an agenda. Some was just in good humor because the people know a good source of material when they see it. I know a few radio personalities that ran with this because they could get good airplay and listener participation.

    The point is that you need to react appropriately and proportionately. A venomous reaction to good spirited humor just makes the person reacting seem unreasonable and even unbalanced. Worse still, it encourages more humor because of the reaction it gets. If you never learned that lesson, then I guess I understand your reaction.


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (5:12 pm)

    Independence Hall,

    Of course I understand that you respond with humor to comments that are intended to be funny/joking.

    I personally haven’t seen any of those comments about the Volt fire or heard them. You appear to be implying that most responses out there have been humorous. Read the comments in the string below the Fox News Nation article I provided the link to, and see if you think most of them are “humorous”.

    http://nation.foxnews.com/chevy-volt/2011/04/18/two-chevy-volts-catch-fire-one-week

    And, no I don’t find mean-spirited, ignorant comments about plug-ins surprising at all — they’re the norm on the Internet.

    How to best challenge the folks spouting the negativity, that’s the real question — and I don’t know if I have the best answer to that.


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (6:05 pm)

    Looks like the Samurai was very much engineered by trial and error. He was probably still tinkering with it. Then there’s the Volt production vehicle subject to all sorts of regulations and liabilities. If I had to pick which vehicle to blame (it could have been something else obviously), I know which one I’d suspect.


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (6:12 pm)

    “This incompetent DIYer has to be the worst Chevy Volt customer of the year.
    Do not get into any boat this guy has built… ”

    To be fair, the cause hasn’t been determined. Maybe it was something other than the vehicles. Does look like things were done on the cheap as far as the Samurai conversion.


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    Apr 19th, 2011 (9:57 pm)

    Steve:
    “This incompetent DIYer has to be the worst Chevy Volt customer of the year.
    Do not get into any boat this guy has built… ”

    To be fair, the cause hasn’t been determined.Maybe it was something other than the vehicles.

    I also mentioned that he built the garage 40 years ago – wiring included.

    Suzuki or garage – either way, “Storm” has single handedly given Volt and “Government Motors” haters their biggest holiday yet. Either that, or some neighbor’s arson gave them the holiday.


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    George L

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    Apr 20th, 2011 (12:22 pm)

    A very good ground is important if you’re going to pull that much amperage.