GM’s Dan Akerson to defend Volt at Capitol hearing image

GM CEO Dan Akerson is expected to defend the company’s Chevrolet Volt today, telling Congress the vehicle is safe and that politics is to blame for the intense scrutiny.

Critics have suggested regulators withheld information about the first fire to protect the Obama administration’s stake in GM.

Mr. Akerson, in his first testimony before Congress, will speak on Wednesday at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearing into a U.S. safety regulator’s handling of an investigation of potential fire risk involving the Volt’s lithium-ion battery.

The Volt has become “a surrogate for some to offer broader commentary” on GM and on President Barack Obama’s administration, which has promoted electric vehicles, Akerson said in testimony prepared for a U.S. House.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation on Nov. 25 into the safety of the Volt’s battery pack after its own repeated tests uncovered fire risks.
However interesting is that GM and NHTSA didn’t disclose the fire until Bloomberg News reported it in November.

The government ended its investigation last week, concluding that the Volt and other electric cars don’t pose a greater fire risk than gasoline-powered cars.

Some conservatives have linked NHTSA’s actions to the U.S. Treasury’s part-ownership of GM, secured in 2009, after GM received a total of $50 billion in restructuring aid under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

But GM denied that the administration is involved in its business.

“The administration’s been true to their word from the start and has not interfered in our business,” Greg Martin, a GM spokesman, said.