General Motors says it will begin replacing 120 volt charging cords for more most of the Chevrolet Volt fleet, saying that change is related to power cords overheating and not the vehicles' lithium ion batteries bursting into flames after a crash. There have been consumer complaints regarding the charging cords overheating and the exchange program does not affect 240 volt cords. The company denies that the program is a recall, something NCCC frowns upon.
"If a company is stepping forward and telling people to have the cords exchanged due to overheating, it seems to me to be a safety issue that should be covered under a mandatory recall," says Brian Reitter, NCCC Vice President. "Calling it a customer satisfaction program undermines the seriousness of the issue, which can lead consumers to delay having the part replaced. What happens when a consumer misunderstands the seriousness of the issue and his cord overheats, catching the car, the garage and the rest of the house with it? How many consumers will have to be injured or killed before GM steps up and issues a mandatory recall? Customer satisfaction campaigns should be limited to non-safety related items, such as seat fabric wearing prematurely or measures taken to address unwanted engine noise, not safety issues."
The company has already come forward saying that it had made enhancements to the vehicle to include the structure and battery coolant system in order to reduce the risk of post-crash battery fires. In November 2011, a statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it would open an investigation regarding post-crash fires in the vehicle focusing on the lithium ion battery pack. In testing conducted in May of 2011, a post-crash fire developed in a garage three weeks after a vehicle had been damaged.
Sales of the Volt have been lower than expected, so low, in fact, that General Motors has temporarily shut down the Volt assembly plant in Michigan for five weeks.