Update: GM Denies CEO Offered Volt “Buy-back”
Officials at General Motors are throwing cold water on remarks their CEO made last week, when he said the company will "buy back" Chevrolet Volts from any customers who are afraid the battery powered car will catch fire.
They say the CEO's comments were taken out of context and misunderstood.
A GM spokeswoman says the company "would ultimately consider all options to meet our customers' expectations, but the program is designed to ensure customers are satisfied and the program doesn't include anything beyond what we talked about on Monday. "
Translation: GM is not planning a Volt buy-back. Not right now anyway.
GM has set up a free loaner program for concerned Volt owners, but so far only a handful of people have taken advantage of it.
Worries about the Volt's safety surfaced after side-impact crash tests, where the cars' lithium ion battery packs caught fire days after the tests were complete. The National Highway Safety Administration says it will investigate into the battery's safety.
Tony Faria, auto industry expert and business professor at the University of Windsor, says Akerson's comments about a "buy-back" are causing public relations headaches for the automaker.
Faria says it appears Akerson was well-intentioned, but it's going to hurt the company more than it will help, because "...it makes it sound as if GM very confidently went forward and said, 'we're so confident in this vehicle...we'll buy it back if anyone is concerned.' This sounds like they've had second thoughts about it, which makes it [the problem] a little bit worse than what it really was."
The bottom line is that GM is not buying back any Volts, yet, but free loaners are available for any Volt owner who wants one.