It’s been a mixed day in the world of the American auto industry. While Ford Motor posted huge sales for November — propelled by a strong demand for SUVs — General Motors has been forced to make the unusual offer of buying back cars from consumers.
Tom Krisher at the Associated Press reports that GM is taking action in response to news that its highly touted electric Chevy Volts have been found to catch fire:
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said the company will purchase the Volts because it wants to keep customers happy. Three fires have broken out in Volts after side-impact crash tests done by the federal government.
Akerson said that if necessary, GM will recall the more than 6,000 Volts now on the road in the U.S. and repair them once the company and federal safety regulators figure out what caused the fires.
“If we find that is the solution, we will retrofit every one of them,” Akerson said. “We’ll make it right.”
The big problems with the Volt could spell trouble for electric cars as a whole. Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic explains:
It’s an unpleasant story for GM. But it’s also bad news for the rest of the electric car movement. The Volt is no ordinary sedan. It’s a standard bearer. When GM was seeking a bailout from Congress, it trotted out the plug-in hybrid electric Volt as proof that the company was changing its truck-obsessed ways. Since then, executives have taken to calling it GM’s “moonshot.” Fewer than 6,000 have been sold. But the company already has plans to use the Volt’s engineering on other models, such as a new Cadillac.