General Motors Takes No Satisfaction in Tesla’s NHTSA Investigation

DEC 2 2013 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 28

Cadillac ELR Gets A "Charge" In LA

Cadillac ELR Gets A “Charge” In LA

Some might think that General Motors is celebrating internally after getting word of the NHTSA conducting an investigation into the recent Tesla Model S fire, but the truth of the matter is that GM takes no satisfaction in Tesla’s current situation.

Tesla Model S Now Under Formal NHTSA Investigation

Tesla Model S Now Under Formal NHTSA Investigation

Makes sense.

GM is reasonably well committed to plug-in vehicles, so any investigation related to the safety of plug-ins is not going to be one that The General takes lightly.

Sure, you could say that GM could take this opportunity to jump on Tesla, but then wouldn’t Tesla fire back upon GM if the tables get turned in the future?

We appreciate GM’s stance on this matter.  As a GM inside source told Ward’s Auto, General Motors is actually hoping that Tesla comes out unscathed because this investigation can affect consumer perception of all EVs.  And, according to Ward’s Auto, GM wants to see the entire EV segment “succeed.”

We’ll stand behind GM on that one.

Source: Ward’s Auto

Categories: Chevrolet, Tesla

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28 Comments on "General Motors Takes No Satisfaction in Tesla’s NHTSA Investigation"

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JakeY
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JakeY

The wording of the title is kind of misleading (to me at least). Sounds like GM wants the NHTSA to be even more strict (not satisfied with current investigation). Maybe changing “satisfaction” to “delight” would make it more clear.

Jesse Gurr
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Jesse Gurr

Sounds OK to me. The other way would be “is not satisfied with”. That would make it sound negative, saying that more should be done. The way it is to me makes it sound like GM doesn’t like that the NHTSA is investigating Tesla.

EVMD
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EVMD

Are we talking about NHTSA investigation of Tesla or Porsche?

acevolt
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acevolt

I think the NHTSA should focus on fires that resulted in casualties like the Paul Walker Porsche fire, not just a car fire covered under warranty:
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-paul-walker-crash-detectives-probe-porsche-speed-20131201,0,6600153.story#axzz2mLLp8SQG

Spec9
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Spec9

Well, even if there was no fire I suspect those people were toast. That car was really mangled. Speed kills.

ModernMarvelFan
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ModernMarvelFan

relatively speed kills….

David Murray
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David Murray

The question is, do we believe GM? Many accuse them to this day of still wanting to kill off the EV. This would be a good opportunity for them since Tesla is now forcing their hand to build EVs more than anyone else. If Tesla were to go under, that would be a weight lifted from GM. Of course now they have BMW and Nissan to worry about a little.

MTN Ranger
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MTN Ranger

That’s silly, electrification is the future and GM knows it. They have spent billions and will be bringing out new PEV products over time. Most manufacturers are waiting for battery technology to allow cheaper (i.e. profitable) high AER PEVs in the next few years.

Bill Howland
Guest

Yeah, this time I believe GM. When Elon Musk was criticizing the Volt of “Doing neither the job of a Gasoline or Electric car Very Well”, GM could have rightly complained and emphasized the Volts impecable in-service safety record, but they bit their tongue instead.

The Volt has other advantages as well. Even though the car’s computer systems are supposedly 50% more code than a Boeing 787, the system has no need of a sleep mode. The car comes to life in seconds, and has no “Vampire Drain”, nor bug-prone “Sleep Mode”. Then too, charging efficiency is very high, unlike my Roadster’s 55% typical in the summertime. There have been testimonials here on INsideEvs attesting to the intrinsic safety of the Volt, GM having nothing to do with those testimonials.

Bonaire
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Bonaire

My Volt must be broken since it does the job of an EV and an ICE very well. It just does not drive well over the speed limit as well as other overpowered road vehicles. Cruises at 65-70 incredibly smoothly.

Benjamin
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Benjamin

It cruises at 95 mph fairly smoothly as well 😉

Mark H
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Mark H

Fair question David. Story coming in the next day or so from an InsideEVs exclusive interview with EV1 Marketing Director John Dabels. Might give a little more insight to you very good question.

Justin H
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Justin H

Great choice of words GM.

vdiv
Guest
vdiv

Quote from the WardAuto article: ““You would be crazy, as a manufacturer, if you didn’t use [Voltec, the most-decorated propulsion system in industry history] in other applications,” [chief engineer-ELR at GM Chris] Thomason tells WardsAuto during a media drive of the ELR here.”

Ahem…

Where are those other applications, Mr. Thomason?

Bill Howland
Guest

Other application so far is the Caddy ELR. Since this car’s claim to fame will be “an inviting interior”, it is in some ways competing with the model S, and in other ways, being a luxury coupe, it has that market all to itself for a bit. As mentioned by Scott200’s analysis of cost (any where from $5000 more expensive to $14000 cheaper than a Model S depending on the “S”‘s options), many will perceive the ELR as an excellent value.

As far as safety goes, other automakers privately tire of being picked on by Musk, when it is his car that is causing the embarrassment, fires aside, by continually violating NHTSA’s policies,

Spec9
Guest
Spec9

The rest of the industry is probably a little annoyed at Tesla for these fires. Everyone else used less volatile chemistry mixes. Tesla, pushing the envelope on energy density in order to get huge range, chose batteries with cobalt in them that improved energy density but made the batteries a bit more volatile and made them more toxic. I wouldn’t say Tesla’s batteries are unsafe . . . but I think it would be fair to say that they are not as safe as the batteries in all the other EVs which have had no fires in ordinary road use despite lots of crashes.

Evil Attorney
Guest
Evil Attorney

This is an interesting point. Are there any good posts/articles that compare/contrast the chemistry, energy density, safety, lifespan, etc. of each car maker? I would love to see this site spend some time on the subject.

David
Guest
David

Lots of words, but where’s the source? Did GM actually say this? Some unknown insider?

Tom Moloughney
Guest

I believe this 100%. I know for a fact (from personal conversations with very high level management) that BMW is actually rooting for Tesla, well at least the people in the BMW i brand. Tesla’s success validates the market for high end electric cars – something that wasn’t really known for sure until Tesla made the Model S and it’s selling well. If Telsa tanked you can bet R&D for high end plug-ins would have been cut a bit.

That being said I’m sure there is some truth to Spec9’s comment also. At the LA Auto Show the folks at the i3 test drive pavilion were quick to point out the cells used in the i3 are much less likely to have a “thermal event” and if that does somehow happen, the coolant is r134a which will simply evaporate if a module is compromised as opposed to the liquid coolant used by Tesla which some have speculated may have served as an accelerant in the fires.

Jouni Valkonen
Guest
Jouni Valkonen

Germans did also the investigation and Model S was not lacking too much with safety.

GERMAN FEDERAL MOTOR TRANSPORT AUTHORITY (KRAFTFAHRT-BUNDESAMT) CONCLUDES REVIEW OF MODEL S INCIDENTS
http://www.teslamotors.com/about/press/releases/german-federal-motor-transport-authority-kraftfahrtbundesamt-concludes-review-m