In a rather unusual move, General Motors (GM) is offering to buy back Chevy Volts.

The offer came from GM’s CEO Daniel F. Akerson during an interview with the Associated Press. He stated GM would buy back Volts if the owner was dissatisfied or concerned about safety issues after the recent reports of the battery catching on fire after crash tests.

Chevy-VoltThe story started back in May, when a Chevy Volt battery was damaged in a side impact test inducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Just over three weeks after the test crash, the car caught on fire while being stored in a test facility’s parking lot.

That prompted the NHTSA to conduct additional tests. Of three batteries tested, one caught on fire and another sparked and smoked a week after a simulated crash. GM was notified that the NHTSA was opening a safety defect investigation. The NHTSA also stated that owners of Chevy Volts that had not been in a serious accident should not be concerned.

GM responded within days, offering Chevy Volt owners a free loaner car if they were concerned about their vehicle’s safety. GM also pointed out that the NHTSA did not store the crashed Volt ‘properly’, as they recommend draining the battery after a serious crash. Today, GM added to that, saying they are alerted to crashes through the OnStar safety system, and they send a team to drain the battery within 48 hours.

GM’s offer to buy back the Chevy Volt led to some confusion today. At first, it appeared to one-up the free loaner car offer, but later a spokeswoman from Chevy said the buy back offer was not new, but it was all part of the same free loaner car offer.

We pointed out earlier this week at CP that the Chevy Volt was Consumer Reports’ top-ranked car for customer satisfaction. With that being the case…and the fire issue allegedly only occurring a week or more after a serious crash… and, according to GM, the fire concern is eliminated by draining the battery after a crash; we suspect GM will not have to buy back very many Volts. Unless the ongoing investigation uncovers a more serious threat – then all bets are off.