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So far most Volt owners passing on GM's buy-back, loaner offer

GM is offering Volt owners the choice of a loaner car or vehicle buy-back while NHTSA conducts its investigation into the extended range electric vehicle's battery. But so far only a few dozen people have taken them up on that offer.


It's going to take more than a couple of battery fires to shake the confidence of most current Volt owners--so far only 24 people have taken General Motors up on its offer to buy back their extended range electric vehicles.

The Volt is being investigated by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration because of fires that started in the liquid cooled lithium-ion battery three weeks after side-impact crash tests were performed by the organization. Proper post-crash safety protocols were not followed by NHTSA engineers, which requires the Volt's battery to be drained of power until repairs are completed. Although GM says it stands by the safety of its vehicle, it has offered to purchase the Volts from wary customers to keep them satisfied.

Repurchase price will vary for each vehicle (probably based on condition and mileage) and owners will have to consult with a tax adviser if they've already claimed the $7,500 federal tax credit. That could be why only a couple dozen people want to get rid of the Volt all together. But it's also noteworthy that Consumer Reports announced last week that the Volt has the highest customer satisfaction rate of all vehicles, with 93 percent of owners saying they would buy the Volt again.

Although the repurchase program isn't generating much interest, GM's offer of a loaner vehicle until the NHTSA investigation of the extended range electric vehicle are completed is slightly more popular. GM spokesperson Greg Martin wrote in an e-mail that "less than a hundred" owners have been given loaner vehicles to replace Volts. Customers can choose from nearly the entire lineup of GM vehicles with a few exceptions. For example, any of the performance V-Series vehicles are not an option.

Other than that limitation, customers get the run of the house in choosing a car, said Martin. Replacement vehicles are decided by the owners and their respective Volt advisers, ranging from the fuel-sipping Chevrolet Cruze to the Equinox crossover. The vehicle will be loaned for the duration of the investigation. When asked when the investigation will be completed, Martin answered, "When we get it right."