John Ransom

The Chevy Cruze, which is the same car, right down to the lug nuts as the Chevy Volt- minus, you know, the voltage- is being investigated for engine fires that Reuters says “in many cases completely engulfed the vehicles in flames.” 

So, let me be the first to apologize to General Motors.

I’ve been complaining about the negligible environmental benefits of the Volt, of the federal tax subsidies for the Volt and of the $23,000 difference in sticker price between the Cruze and the Volt.

And I’m willing to state here and now: I was wrong.

Quite obviously you were right, General Motors.

The environmental benefits of the Volt- which reports have shown only create relatively small fires contained in the engine compartment of the Volt- far outweigh the fires in  conventional General Motors cars, like the Cruze, which we now know may engulf the entire vehicle in flames.

“A driver in a 2011 Cruze Eco said the car started smoking near the engine bay,” writes Reuters. “The first flame appeared soon after the driver stopped the car and within five minutes, the Cruze was ‘totally engulfed,’ the complaint said. A warning light on the dashboard illuminated only after the first sign of fire.”

Compare that to the Volt, where fires only broke out after being left unattended subsequent to crash tests when apparently coolant mixed with the Volt’s unique, lithium-ion battery to cause the fires.

Sure, the battery of the Volt still has enough power to kill a man, but at least death would be instantaneous.

Also, you can see another way that "green" works: Just in the case of BTUs (British Thermal Units) created by the comparative fires, the Volt fire would tend to produce a lot less global warming than a fully engulfed Chevy Cruze would.

Good thinking GM.

What a progressive, forward thinking company.

The question then becomes: Is $23,000 worth it to prevent the entire vehicle from being engulfed in flames?

I have not done the math that General Motors design engineers did in coming up with the ergonomics and economics of fire protection.

John Ransom

John Ransom’s writings on politics and finance have appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Colorado Statesman, Pajamas Media and Registered Rep Magazine amongst others. Until 9/11, Ransom worked primarily in finance as an investment executive for NYSE member firm Raymond James and Associates, JW Charles and as a new business development executive at Mutual Service Corporation. He lives in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom.

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