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USA: Chevy Volt gets caught in Washington crossfire

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Chevy Volt became a political punching bag on Wednesday, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of hiding fire risks from the public, and General Motors saying its signature electric vehicle unfairly got caught in political crosswinds.

Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Oversight regulatory subcommittee, said it was disturbing that U.S. safety regulators waited six months to open a formal investigation after their own crash tests uncovered fire risks.

He speculated that the administration may have been preserving its own interests. President Barack Obama has heavily promoted electric vehicles like the Volt, and his administration oversaw a U.S. government bailout and bankruptcy restructuring of GM in 2009.

GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson had his own theories about how politics influenced the probe. He told the hearing that the Volt got “disproportionate scrutiny” because it became a surrogate for election-year politics and commentary on GM’s business and Obama administration policy.

“We did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag. And that, sadly, is what the Volt has become,” Akerson said.
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