You can pry the steering wheel out of Chevy Volt owners cold, dead hands (despite fiery rumors)

Heard about the Chevy Volt fires? Seems like you’re most likely to answer “yes” to that question if a) you’re a true car geek, or b) you get your news from right-leaning media. Conservative commentators have latched onto news about fires in two of the vehicles after test crashes as proof of everything from the immaturity of the battery technology to logical outcome of government investment in the auto industry. In response, General Motors has not only worked closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on its preliminary investigation, but also offered Volt owners loaner cars and even buy-backs to address potential concerns.

GM’s offers make PR sense, but may not be necessary: it turns out that Volt owners are already a very loyal bunch. The Volt Owners Group on Facebook has pivoted from enthusiasm and community to activism in the face of what it sees as unwarranted attacks on the vehicle. Earlier this month, the group issued an open letter describing both its members’ love of the vehicle itself, and its trust in safety protocols developed for hybrids and electric vehicles. Among those who signed the letter was former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, who told The Detroit News “This is the best car I’ve ever driven. I would refuse to turn it in….I feel entirely safe.”

Of course, enthusiasm is one thing; engineering and design knowledge is another. But the Volt Owners Group has some solid backing for its position: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for instance, is standing by its choice to award the Volt its highest safety rating. And despite efforts by conservative media to use these fires to its advantage, most Americans aren’t taking the bait (though sales of the Volt have still been lackluster).

So, what do you think? Has this news dampened your enthusiasm for electric vehicles? Do you trust government inspectors and the auto industry to keep unsafe cars off of the roads? Or are they just too expensive still? Let us know what you think (whether you own a Volt or not).


Image credit: peltierchevy at Flickr under a Creative Commons license