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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Nation/World

GM to Offer Battery Buy-Back Program

With mounting customer doubt about the Chevy Volt, GM has offered to buy back vehicles from Volt owners.

With growing concerns over possible battery fires, General Motors announced Thursday they would buy back any Chevy Volt from owners who thought their cars were at risk of catching fire. GM CEO Dan Akerson told the Associated Press that the cars are very safe, and the company was only looking to buy back vehicles to ease customer concerns. 

Crash tests performed by the federal government found that Volts run the risk of catching fire after side-impact collisions. Three fires started during these tests, but started one to three weeks after each collision. GM claims that no Volt involved in real accidents out on U.S. roads have caught fire, but says they will be willing to recall all Volts if necessary. 

The recent battery scare has caused concern for green vehicle owners, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the Volt is the only electric vehicle at the center of this particular problem.    

Ira Kalb is an assistant professor of clinical marketing for the USC Marshall School of Business, and he says GM is doing everything they can to save their image as a leading American car company.

"If something is wrong with a product, you expect a company to take care of the problem," Kalb said.

Kalb also says the public expects a company to take responsibilities for their products and that is exactly what GM is doing.

"The public wants GM to admit there is a problem, apologize, and limit the scope of the problem," Kalb said. "They are trying to do everything the can to recover and protect their corporate image." 

GM announced earlier this week that the company would provide loaner cars to Volt owners who wanted their cars to be inspected. Akerson told the Associated Press that GM wants to assure customers that the fires only broke out after extreme situations.

There are currently 6,000 Chevy Volts on the roads, and only 16 owners have shown an interest in the loaner program.

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