Monday, January 23, 2012

Up in Smoke 2?

By Rick Manning

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that government-owned General Motors’ showcase electric vehicle, the Chevy Volt does not have a problem with catching on fire in spite of two test vehicles becoming engulfed in flames weeks after being subjected to test crashes. With 8000 Volts out there, and at least one mysterious fire in the garage of an owner to go along with the fires in the NHTSA garages, one has to wonder if the findings have more to do with the Obama Administration’s desire to promote the Volt rather than a real concern about consumer safety.

That is the kind of question that would never exist if the government did not own more than one third of General Motors. Remember, the NHTSA is the same agency that fined Toyota millions of dollars for an alleged acceleration problem that caused accidents, only to discover months later that the problem was a trial lawyer fabrication in order to fleece the corporate giant.

During the extensive media coverage of Toyota’s “safety” problem, General Motors vehicle sales jumped as the Japanese automaker struggled to keep its reputation for making a reliable vehicle intact.

And that is ultimately one of the practical problems of the Obama General Motors bailout. Every action by a regulatory agency dealing with the company comes into question, and every action against a competitor gets scrutinized as potentially being motivated by self-interest rather than public safety.

The Chevy Volt itself should survive or fail based upon the marketplace of consumers. However, the seeming regulatory push to save the brand must have Ralph Nader spinning in his grave. Okay, Nader isn’t dead, but his silence is certainly deafening.
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