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GM to replace portable 120-volt chargers for Chevy Volt hybrids

Consumer Reports News: March 23, 2012 04:38 PM

General Motors announced yesterday that it is replacing the portable charging devices used to recharge the Chevrolet Volt from any standard 120-volt household electrical outlet. The new charger is said to have a thicker and more durable cable to enhance the charger's durability, said GM.

GM spokesman Randal Fox told Reuters that the beefier chargers "offer a more consistent charging experience" for owners than the current chargers which come standard with every Chevy Volt electric car.

"It's not a safety recall," Fox said. "It's more of a customer-satisfaction program."

Last year, Volt owners complained that the present 120-volt charger overheats during use and have even documented online videos of melted 120-volt chargers. And in November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating the car's internal battery packs after its own Chevy Volt caught fire several weeks after a NHTSA crash test.

However, NHTSA ended its probe of Chevy Volt fires in January, concluding the electric car posed no greater fire risk than other cars. "Generally, all vehicles have some risk of fire in the event of a serious crash," said NHTSA.

Consumer Reports own car testers have not had any issues with either the standard charger or battery packs of its own Volt test vehicle. And while our testers have noted various complaints and shortcomings in CR's logbook for the Chevy Volt, it is a CR Recommended electric vehicle.

As with conventional vehicles, GM will continue to refine its hybrid gas-electric car. In January, ahead of NHTSA's findings, GM announced it would upgrade the Chevrolet Volt by strengthening the structures that protect the car's batteries.

Current Chevy Volt owners will be notified of the portable charger swap out over the next few weeks, said GM, and will receive the beefier unit when the vehicles are brought in for the previously announced battery enhancements.

GM to replace Chevy Volt 120-volt chargers [Reuters]

Paul Eng

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