GM Faces Uphill Climb to Repair Volt Reputation

Consumers, citing price and questions about unproven technology, said they are less likely to be interested in buying a plug-in vehicle.

Published: 26-Jan-2012

ral Motors Co. (GM) begins the task this week of repairing the image of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in vehicle after federal regulators closed their investigation into a battery fire.

GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson and David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are scheduled to testify Jan. 25 before a panel of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform committee. The panel is probing the response to a June 6 fire in a Volt three weeks after the car was crash-tested.

While NHTSA closed its investigation last week and said electric vehicles are no more prone to fires than other autos, Detroit-based GM is left to mend the Volt brand’s reputation and sellers of other electric cars may face additional hurdles in boosting sales, an auto analyst said yesterday.

“It’s not unlike a story that’s written that says somebody has committed a murder, and the next day they say, ‘Oh they didn’t, sorry,’” said Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates, an automobile-industry analysis company in West Bloomfield, Michigan, in an interview. “It’s been in the news.”

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