(GM - Get Report)
is working to improve the Volt battery, while Republican legislators are looking to investigate whether the Obama administration withheld news of the battery fire investigation.
In other words, it appears, GM wants to fix a problem in the car that it considers the symbol of its future, while Congress wants to make a case against a company that some consider
a symbol of the president
The Detroit Free Press
, quoting sources, reported Wednesday that the automaker is considering alternatives including reinforcing vulnerable sections of the battery's case. GM is also considering laminating the circuitry inside the battery case and better protecting the cooling system from leaking in a crash,
The moves follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's announcement on Nov. 25 that it is opening a formal safety defect investigation to assess the risk of battery fires in the Volt, after the agency's testing of the vehicle led to
two cases in which fires developed
in the car's lithium-ion battery
GM is weeks, not months, away from announcing fixes to the battery, the
Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday that one of its panels plans a January hearing on whether details of the NHTSA investigation were covered up.
"It gives us great concern that recent reports indicate important safety information may have been omitted in testimony before our committee just a few weeks ago," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, in a prepared statement. "This is a serious situation that our committee will look further into."
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters on Tuesday that the Volt is safe to drive and denied charges that the government withheld news of the fire in the crash-test vehicle in order to protect GM.