General Motors has announced changes to the vehicle structure and battery coolant system in the Chevy Volt, in response to a government investigation into fires that broke out in the vehicle after test crashes. GM said it will strengthen an existing portion of the Volt’s vehicle safety structure, add a sensor to measure coolant levels, and add a tamper-resistant bracket to help prevent coolant overfill. The company will notify Volt customers when the modifications are available for their vehicles. Last month GM CEO Dan Akerson insisted that the cars are safe, but said that if necessary, GM will recall all 6,000-plus Volts now being driven in the U.S.
Ford plans to close the loop on plastic bottle recycling by collecting bottles from the North American Auto Show, which starts today in Detroit, and the International Consumer Electronics Show, starting tomorrow in Las Vegas, and using them as part of the feedstock for Repreve fabrics. Ford will use the fabrics in the Focus Electric and other vehicles, using about 22 recycled PET bottles per car. The company says the Focus Electric will be the first Ford vehicle with an interior made from “100 percent clean technology.” Over the past few years Ford has introduced a number of unusual materials into its vehicles, including carpet, blue jeans and soy (for gaskets and seals, and for seat cushions).
FedEx Express, Hertz, Navistar, Azure Dynamics, A123 Systems, CODA Automotive, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, ECOtality, Automatiks, GE Capital and others have formed the Electrification Leadership Council, which aims to overcome barriers to EV development. Its first project will be a large-scale demonstration project within a densely populated local market to create a model for EV deployment.
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. completed 68 natural gas fueling stations in 16 states last year, a 50 percent increase over its number of installations in 2010, the company announced. The installations included seven stations serving transit, 18 for refuse vehicles, 28 for airport, taxi and shuttle operations, and 15 supporting local and regional trucking and small fleets.