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Fri., Jan. 6, 2012

General Motors will strengthen the structure around the batteries in its Volt electric cars. (Associated Press)
General Motors will strengthen the structure around the batteries in its Volt electric cars. (Associated Press)

GM modifying Chevy Volt to prevent battery fires

LOS ANGELES – General Motors Co. said it will make modifications to the Chevrolet Volt after a series of fires occurred following test crashes of the plug-in hybrid vehicle.

GM said the fires were caused by a coolant leak that occurred when the battery pack in the vehicle was punctured during the tests of severe side crashes by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The fires occurred hours to weeks after the tests as the coolant leaked and eventually created a short circuit.

The automaker will add structural reinforcement that better protects the battery pack from puncture or a coolant leak in a severe side crash, said Mary Barra, GM’s senior vice president of global product development.

It will also add a sensor in the reservoir of the battery coolant system to monitor coolant levels and add a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to help prevent potential coolant overfill. The fix will add about three pounds to the weight of the vehicle.

Los Angeles Times

Silver prices soared 74 percent in 2011

Silver prices averaged $35.12 per ounce in 2011 – a 74 percent gain over 2010’s average price of $20.19 per ounce, according to the Silver Institute.

The strong growth in prices last year was fueled by investor demand and industrial uses for the metal, said Michael DeRienzo, the Silver Institute’s executive director.

Prices for other precious metals also jumped last year, he said. Average palladium prices were up 39 percent, gold was up 28 percent and platinum rose 7 percent in 2010.

Becky Kramer

Avista subsidiary buying Dallas rival

Ecova, a subsidiary of Avista Corp., plans to purchase a Dallas competitor that specializes in energy management.

LPB Energy Management procures energy for its clients and helps them manage their utility costs. The privately held company has annual sales in the $18 million range.

Ecova expects to complete the purchase by the end of the month. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ecova, formerly known as Advantage IQ, uses detailed energy data to help companies operate their facilities more efficiently. Ecova will have nearly 700 commercial clients after the purchase, officials said.

Becky Kramer

Former Bing Crosby home fetches $4 million

A Toluca Lake home still referred to as the Bing Crosby Estate despite a succession of other entertainment industry owners has been bought for $4.02 million. The property came on the market two years ago at $10 million.

The singer and actor lived on the property from 1936 until early January 1943, when the 20-room house there was gutted in a Christmas tree fire, according to Los Angeles Times archives. Crosby was out at the time of the fire. His wife, Dixie Lee, and their four sons escaped injury.

The rebuilt Southern Colonial that stands on the site has six bedrooms, 5  1/2 bathrooms and five fireplaces in 7,132 square feet. There is a living room with a marble fireplace, a billiards room and a den with a wet bar.

Subsequent owners included actor Andy Griffith in the 1980s and actor Jerry Van Dyke and his wife, Shirley, who sold the home in 1997 for $1.93 million, public records show.

Los Angeles Times


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