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NHTSA closes investigation on Chevrolet Volt

1/23/2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into the Chevrolet Volt fire incident, clearing General Motors of any wrongdoing. Now, the brand begins the long road toward repairing the vehicle's image.

Much like the Toyota recall scandal last year, where the automaker was also eventually cleared of fault, GM now faces the task of convincing a skeptical customer base that the incident was self-contained. The Volt only caught fire after it had been in a serious crash during testing. General Motors' argument was that the rupturing of the battery fuel cells was a danger with all electric vehicles, not just the Volt. The company also said that there was no danger for cars that hadn't been in very specific types of accidents, which also ended up being true.

"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,'" Alan Baum, principal of automobile-industry analysis company Baum & Associates, told Bloomberg. "It's been in the news."

Having a safe car is one key to avoiding accidents, but it means nothing if the driver does not keep up with their auto maintenance. A set of new tires, for example, can improve traction and reduce the chance of a flat tire, which could in turn lead to a loss of control.

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