Over at Plugin Cars Tom Moloughney recently wrote and article titled, “Hysteria Over Chevy Volt Fires Motivated by Politics”. In the article Mr. Moloughney forms a hypothesis that there is a double standard out there concerning cars — gas powered cars get treated one way and electric and hybrid cars are treated another way. Mr. Moloughney makes and interesting and strong argument.
A lot of people write for the internet these days and on a range of topics so broad it can be hard to comprehend. Here at Gas2, we like to do as much independent research on a topic that we can before it appears on the site. Yet, sometimes a writer from another site hits on a topic so uniquely that we feel it must be shared with our readers as well.
The Chevy Volt is arguably the most mainstream eclectic/hybrid vehicles (EV) on the market. The add campaigns for the Volt have been huge, hell the thing even had its own Transformer up on the silver screen. Recently, however, the Volt has taken a hit. Sales of the Volt have been slow; politicians have denounced the Volt, and the much published fire issue with the Volt has left a mark.
It is on the issue of the media frenzy that surrounded the Volt fires that Tom Moloughney bases his arguments. Moloughney’s hypothesis is that there is a double standard out there concerning cars and that electric and hybrid cars are being held to a higher standard than gasoline powered cars. It is an interesting idea, and throw into the mix Moloughney’s question as to do electric cars need to be safer than gasoline cars, and one is left with an interesting conundrum.
To back up his argument Mr. Moloughney compiled a list of automobiles that have been recalled for fire related issues over the past two years. Mr. Moloughney’s list and write up follows:
“On August 22 of this year, Audi began a recall of their 2011 & 2012 R8 Spyder vehicles. It seems a fuel line can rub against a heat shield in the engine compartment and catch FIRE.
A few days earlier on August 15, Ford announced they would be recalling 2007 Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego’s because there were inadequate welds on the fuel filler pipe and gas tank which could leak and in the presence of an ignition source, catch FIRE.
Last month BMW announced they are recalling 32,000 of its 2008-2011 cars (select 5-series, 7-series, X5’s & X6’s) because of a faulty electronic circuit board that could damage the water pump of the car and lead to a FIRE.
On July 29 of this year, Daimler trucks of North America recalled certain 2010 & 2011 Saf-T-Liner C-2 school buses because “The intake air grid heater may short circuit and fail due to excessive internal temperatures. A short circuited grid heater could result in a FIRE and injury to vehicle occupants.” I wonder who might be the vehicle occupants of a school bus? Ya think school buses full of children possibly catching FIRE is a bit more newsworthy than a couple Volts catching fire weeks after NHTSA crash tests? I do!
Then there’s Honda. Last year Honda recalled 646,000 Fits because a faulty power window switch could cause a vehicle FIRE. That’s a lot of recalled cars. I swear I don’t remember seeing this in the headlines for a few weeks last year. On September 12, 2011, Ford began a recall of certain model F-150’s and F-250’s from various years between 1997 and 2003. The reason: The fuel tank straps were defective and could break. This would cause the fuel tank to possibly separate form the vehicle while it was being driven and come in contact with the ground. In other words, it can literally fall off while you’re driving down the highway. This obviously poses a FIRE hazard.
In October 2010, Chrysler recalled about 26,000 cars and pickup trucks because power steering fluid can leak onto a hot engine and cause a FIRE. In June of 2010 Toyota announced they were recalling approximately 13,000 Lexus HS 250 H after testing revealed that the car could leak fluid during a rear end collision and cause a FIRE.
Let’s not forget in March 2011 when Mazda recalled 52,000 Mazda6 sedans. I remember this one did make the news for a day, but only because of how strange the problem was. Mazda said the problem was because “a certain type of spider may weave a web in the evaporative canister vent line and this may cause a restriction of the line.” Blocking the vent line can prevent air from getting into the gas tank. This results in negative air pressure inside the tank. That can lead to a crack in the gas tank and the possibility of a FIRE.”
After reading through the list, fact checking, and checking the Gas2 site there were defiantly some of the stories on Moloughney’s list that Gas2 did not cover – yet we are still covering the Volt fire and its impact.
What I am saying is that Tom Moloughney makes a great point. Electric and hybrid vehicles have been under the public microscope for years now. Is it the fear of something new/ fear of change? Or are powers at work here deliberately trying to give hybrids and EVs a bad reputation?
Republican Congressman Mike Kelly, who owns are car dealership, has made pubic his opinion that there is no market for the Volt and recently introduced legislation to repeal the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. It should come as no surprise that Republican Congressman Mike Kelly is directly involved with the Phillips-Conoco oil company.
It is not hard to connect the dots around Republican Congressman Mike Kelly and his line of interests. We know that the big oil companies are not too thrilled about the advances of the EV and hybrid market either. Also widely known is the fact oil companies do have deep pockets and are able to push their agenda when cornered.
But, we also know that some consumers have legitimate worries about driving EVs. Concerns like having no place to plug the car in while on long drives or in rural communities and concerns that their trusted mechanic might not be able to work on their new EV. These are valid issues that must be addressed if EVs are going to really take off.
Yet, for now, it seems that it is best to ignore the negative attention; if you have EV related questions ask and if you are curious about EVs go for a test drive. As Tom Moloughney has shown fire is a hazard that all types of cars face — you just might not hear about it on the evening news.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison