Friday, June 29, 2012

My interactions with the Public about the Chevy Volt

As a Volt owner, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to come to the conclusion that large numbers of our citizens have lost, or never learned to begin with, the ability to think critically.  What exactly does that mean to me?  If you have a passionate view on a particular issue, you should be able to articulate your position well, have that position grounded in facts that you have not just heard or read, but also verified, and be able to rebutt an opposing viewpoint.   A critical thinker should also, upon reflection and being exposed to new facts, be able to accept that his/her position may have been incomplete and consider the possibility it was entirely wrong to begin with.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people that are so passionately against the electrification of the automobile, they do not have the ability to think critically.  When the case for electric cars has more positives than negatives, and fixes issues on both sides of the political aisle, it should be a no brainer for us to support it.  But very rarely in this country can a Republican support anything a Democrat believes, or vice versa.

This is a parody of my interactions with those who lack critical thinking ability, an all too vocal group of individuals.  There is some adult language in the clip below, but nothing too terrible.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fire Recalls for other manufacturers

This really is only tangentially related to the Volt.  In the Volt's case, it is getting tied to the Chevy Cruze fire recall, even though they are completely different vehicles, with different engines and setup under the hood.  I took about 15 minutes to do quick google searches of car recalls that were related to fire hazards that were not General Motors cars.  I am absolutely sure I have missed a lot.  But to put the Cruze recall into perspective:

1.3 Million BMW 5,6 series for Fire Hazard

Possible Recall for 1,000,000+ Toyotas

646,000 Honda Fits

490,000 Ford Vehicles

235,500 Mini

168,000 VW TDI

167,000 Acura

79,275 Nissan

67,872 Jeep Wranglers

2800 BMW

1,000 Audi R8 Super cars
600 Rolls Royce Ghost

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Truth Matters: A Compendium of Volt and EV related articles

I come across articles weekly that speak to the truth of electric vehicles, and soundly debunk the arguments posed by the anti EV crowd.  I am creating this living blog entry in order to keep track of all this research in hopes it will aid others as they hopefully engage in thoughtful debates with opponents of electrification.  Granted, that isn't always possible.  But I hope this blog will supply you with facts, not rhetoric.

If you want to contribute a link to this article, please comment below and I'll add it in the appropriate section.  Please report broken links.

Subsidy Issues Examined:

Mackinac Electric Vehicle Study
The following links examine the exaggerated and factually incorrect report that states each tax payer is paying 250k for each Volt sold.

Indirect Subsidies to support our nation, and its reliance to oil

Government Accountability Office examines various government and non government expenses for Military Protection of Middle Eastern Crude; Concludes about 30 billion a year has been spent.

Academic Analysis of U.S. Military Expenditures to Protect the use of Persian-Gulf Oil for Motor Vehicles

Volt Sales Not from Fleet or Government

Fleet sales at bottom

Less than 2% of total sales YTD are to the government (includes military)

Domestic Drilling

Drilling won't lower gas prices.  It will reduce the foreign trade deficit, but that is about it

The Environmental Effects of Electric Cars

In a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, they concluded that electric vehicles are far cleaner than the average car in even the most polluted power grids, but are far better than even 50 MPG cars in the cleanest states.

Battery Issues

Battery prices are falling sharply

Lithium prices are up, but this has little effect on battery prices

New study supporting 'prices of batteries are going to come down greatly over time'

Batteries to be Recycled:

Grid Impact Issues

Many studies have been conducted.  The basic conclusions of these studies are that while EVs will present certain challenges to power providers, there are many things that can be done overcome the challenge, and that we can support a large adoption of EVs with proper planning.

EPIRI Study:

KEMA Study

Volt Sales

The Chevy Volt will outsell the Corvette in 2012

The Chevy Volt is the number one selling electric car, and outselling almost every other hybrid being produced

The TOP four traded cars are all foreign cars, and include the BMW 3 series

No, Virginia, Fleet sales are not inflating Volt sales [read the article, not the link]

Foolish Predictions

Read this CATO article published back in 2001 about a car that is now the number 3 top selling car in the United States

The Volt Fire Controversy

Both Garage Fires that were occupied with Volts ruled out as likely cause by both fire marshals (as well as NHTSA, GM, insurance companies, and other investigators)

NHTSA Conclusion that the Volt is safe

Popular Mechanics: Don't worry about the battery

Chevy Volt Cost

Snopes debunks one of the most outrageous email chains going, stating that electric vehicles cost 7x the cost of gas to operate

Is the Volt Too Affordable?

User provided Total Cost of Ownership Links

Misc Websites

The average Chevy Volt owner gets 120+ MPG combined

Lots of EV myths discussed here

Fox News segment how the Volt will help win the war on terror

Chevy Volt:  One of the most awarded cars on the road

This is a list of 'Upscale Midsize Vehicles' in which the Volt best some the nicest cars in the world

Foreign Trade Deficit as it relates to oil

The biggest Volt Owner forum

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Volt Fire Myth, Debunked

In the lovely twittersphere, there are some 'uninformed' individuals, through apparent lack of intelligence, critical thinking ability, or ability to properly research an issue, that would just as soon spread lies about the Volt than tell the truth. And more interestingly enough, when approached to correct some of the flat out lies, they continue to refute evidence that is plainly visible and published for all to see. When I find a person like this, it becomes plainly obvious that they have no intent to see or report the truth, and will only give to their readers as much information as they dare as to not cast doubt on their preconceived and ill formed beliefs. While there is good debate to be had about electric cars, let’s have the debate on the real issues, not fictitious ones.

We will start out with a bold statement, and prove it below:

At the date of this blog posting, there have been NO CONSUMER FIRES CAUSED BY THE CHEVY VOLT, either in garages or as a result of an accident. The ONLY fires were a result of government testing, the majority of which was done in a manner to purposely incite a fire through non real world conditions (the battery pack was setup to fail).

Let's examine a few issues....

1) There were two (to my knowledge) fires in garages in the last year that happened to have Volts parked in the garage. As reported in my previous blog entry (Responsibility in Journalism), Matt Drudge has been one of the main culprits of linking, prior to any investigation, the Chevy Volt to the garage fire. In BOTH garage fires, the Volt was ruled out as the probable cause.

Regarding the Conneticutt home:

“It wasn’t the cars,” Barkhamsted Fire Marshal William Baldwin told regarding the cause of a fire at the Barkhamsted residence of Dee and Storm Connors.

Regarding the North Carolina home:

When news first came out regarding this incident, many believed the culprit behind this fire could be the Volt, but Iredell County chief deputy fire marshal Garland Cloer says; “the source of ignition seems to be from outside the area of the vehicles.”

So, there you have it. Two Fire Marshals have removed most to any doubt of the Volt being the cause. Let's also not forget these fires were investigated by MULTIPLE sources. Car companies, power companies, insurance companies. People that know a little bit about this stuff and they have ruled out the Volt as the cause. Duke Energy also ruled out the charging station.

Let's talk about the NHTSA fires... This is the one that really got a lot of press attention. Here is the summary of what happened in a Nut Shell:

1) NHTSA received Volts for collision testing, and performed these tests at their contractor's site (MGA Research).

2) They performed 4 crash tests on 4/20, 5/6, 5/11, and 5/12.

3) The car received 5 Star Frontal and Side Impact Crash ratings.

4) On June 6, NHTSA was informed by MGA that the Volt that was impacted THREE WEEKS prior had caught fire and was destroyed outside the testing facility.

5) Through an extensive and long investigation, they determined that the fire was caused when the battery casing was cracked during the last side impact test, and coolant meant to manage battery temperature leaked onto the battery, causing a short and a fire.  The coolant leaked, when as a part of the test to simulate a rollover, they rotate the car in the air 360 degrees (circulating the ruptured coolant).

6) On 9/21 they repeated the side test on another Volt to attempt to recreate the accident along with 360 degrees rotation. The attempt did NOT succeed in producing a fire.

7) A this point, NHTSA, along with other government agencies, worked to recreate a condition that would purposefully puncture the battery housing and cause a coolant leak. The only way they could do this was remove the batteries from the protective shell of the car, and impact JUST THE BATTERIES with the sled.  After the impact, they literally rotated these batteries, in air, a full 360 degrees, making sure that the coolant would make contact with all parts of the battery (simulated roll over).  They did this on 6 batteries. 2 of the batteries caught fire several days after the testing. So they ran tests on a car battery in a condition that would not be found with consumers, that wouldn't be found in the vast majority of accidents, and even after this, were only able to create fires on 1/3 of the batteries several days after the impact.

8) NHTSA monitored EVERY major Volt crash (airbags deployed), and found not a single incident where a crashed Volt started a fire.  They also investigated the garage fires mentioned above.

8) General Motors, aware of these issues, voluntarily made an enhancement to the cage surrounding the battery that would further reduce the likelihood of a fire.

9) NHTSA closed the investigation, citing the Volt as being no more flammable than any other car on the road, being comfortable with the enhancements made by General Motors.


Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration closed its safety defect investigation into the potential risk of fire in Chevy Volts that have been involved in a serious crash. Opened on November 25, the agency’s investigation has concluded that no discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts.

BTW.  Want to know how many cars actually DO catch on fire a year?  250,000 of them.  About 1% of all cars on the road.  And not a single one of them, to date, is electric.

Eventually, something will happen, and a Volt will catch fire.  That’s what happens with any machine where massive amounts of energy are stored.  But taken in context, it’s nothing spectacular or unnerving.  Electric vehicles are safe to own and drive, and are here to stay.