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USA: Volt Safety Confirmed; New PHEVs Announced; Countering Media Misinformation

January brings good news about the resolution of issues about Volt safety, announcements of many new PHEVs to come, many new sources of anti-plug-in criticism and misinformation — and finally, a response mechanism — and lots of other resources for CalCars-News readers who haven’t had a chance to keep up with the latest developments.

NEW PLUG-IN HYBRIDS COMING INTO VIEW: the wave of announcements continues, with production PHEVs now expected including the Opel Ampera, Ford Fusion Energi, Honda Accord, Mercedes B-Class E-Cell, Volvo XC60, Audi A1 e-tron, Mitsubishi PX-iMIEV, possibly a Lincoln version of the Fusion and a Cadillac version of the Volt, and others at the concept stage, plus, of course, many pure EVs.
NHTSA CLOSES BOOKS ON VOLT FIRES: The National Highway Transportation Administration’s review of fire-related issues on the Chevy Volt has been closed. The NHTSA’s official statement: http://www.nhtsa.gov/­About+NHTSA/­Press+Releases/­2012/­NHTSA+Statement+on+Conclusion+of+Chevy+Volt+Investigation . GM’s precautionary measures announced Jan 5 for same-day February installations, have been approved. GM’s statement welcoming the end of the investigation at: http://www.chevroletvoltage.com/­index.php/­volt-blog/­18-volt/­2583-nhtsa-closure-of-volt-investigation-.html.

ONCE MORE ABOUT FIRES: We’re glad to see more and more people compare the significance of a handful of fires weeks after crash tests with hundreds of thousands of conventional vehicle fires a year: http://thinkprogress.org/­romm/­2012/­01/­08/­398210/­iran-electric-cars-and-our-stuck-narrative-gas-powered-vehicles-catch-fire-180000-times-a-year/ . Oh, and did you or anyone notice when Ford just recalled 286,000 SUVs over a potential fire hazard? http://news.yahoo.com/­ford-recalls-450-000-minivans-suvs-defects-183215451.html

NEXT: CONGRESSIONAL QUIZ: Meanwhile, the head of NHTSA and GM’s CEO Dan Akerson will testify Wednesday at a Congressional subcommittee hearing that Volt critics hope could extend their “fear, doubt and uncertainty” strategy. (On a parallel track to another House hearing Wednesday for cleantech critics reviewing the State Department’s decision on Keystone.)

OTHER MOSTLY GOOD NEWS FROM GM: Volts produced for sale in California after Feb 6 will have Low Emissions Packages making them eligible for the 40,000 stickers allowing HOV (car-pool) lane access, and for a $1,500 state tax credit on top of the federal credit. We continue to hear that every car produced sells quickly. But GM has said it might scale down production plans from its goal of 45,000 US and 15,000 international Volt sales in 2012: http://gm-volt.com/­2012/­01/­10/­gm-says-it-if-necessary-it-will-cut-volt-production/ and http://www.autonews.com/­apps/­pbcs.dll/­article?AID=/­20120112/­OEM05/­120119914
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