WASHINGTON (WWJ/AP) – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the Chevy Volt is safe to drive even though the government is investigating fires caused by damage to the electric car’s battery.

LaHood told reporters Tuesday that his department isn’t trying to protect the maker of the Chevrolet Volt, General Motors, from possible repercussions from the government’s safety investigation.

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LaHood said his department isn’t in the business of protecting the automobile industry.

Transportation officials launched a formal safety investigation after a Volt damaged in government crash-testing and two similarly damaged Volt battery packs set off fire

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The company has offered to buy back any Volt if owners are concerned.

There are about six thousand Volts on the roads right now. A GM said he doesn’t expect many Volt owners to return their cars.

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