GM would consider limited Volt buyback

Dec. 2, 2011 at 2:16 PM
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DETROIT, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. automaker General Motors Co. says it is offering loaner cars to owners worried about battery fires and would consider repurchasing cars in some cases.

The company, however, said it has not announced a buyback initiative.

GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson apparently caused some confusion when he spoke to reporters Thursday about the company's customer satisfaction program, inferring the company was willing to buy back cars from customers.

"In speaking with reporters on Thursday, ... Akerson reiterated what the company announced earlier this week," GM said Thursday in a statement on its Web site. "He did not announce any new initiatives. GM has established a Volt owner satisfaction program offering any Volt owner concerned about safety to contact his or her Volt adviser to exchange the Volt for a free GM vehicle loan until resolution of the issue."

A GM spokesman told The Wall Street Journal Akerson's quotes may have been misunderstood.

"His quotes were in the context of doing what is right for the customer and not the announcement of a new initiative as was insinuated by some reports," company spokesman Rob Peterson said.

Another spokesman, Greg Martin, told the Los Angeles Times GM would consider repurchase on a case-by-case basis.

"While the investigation is going on, we will do whatever it takes to allay concerns and keep our customers happy," Martin said, "and if that includes repurchase, we will work individually with any customer."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a preliminary evaluation of Volt battery assemblies last week after NHTSA test results caused electrical fires up to three weeks after a side pole crash test.

GM North America President Mark Reuss said Monday any Volt owner concerned about safety can contact his car dealership to arrange for a free GM vehicle loan until the issue is resolved.

"A vehicle loan program of this nature is well beyond the norm for a preliminary investigation, and it underlines our commitment to the vehicle and its owners," he said. "These steps are the right ones to take regardless of any immediate impact on our operations."

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