Print 49 comment(s) - last by Qapa.. on Feb 3 at 9:37 PM

GM only sold 603 Volts in January

General Motors' Chevrolet Volt has taken a serious beating over the past year or so after its battery fire issues were brought to light, and that beating showed as January Volt sales plummeted.

For the month of January 2012, GM sold a total of 603 Volts, which was significantly lower than December 2011's total of 1,529 Volts. GM sold a total of 7,700 Volts in 2011.

Chevrolet's plug-in hybrid electric Volt had a very up-and-down (but mostly down) 2011. In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a side-impact test on a Volt in its Wisconsin testing facility. Three weeks later, the Volt caught fire while parked in the testing garage, leading to an investigation of the safety of lithium batteries. Lithium batteries can catch fire if the internal cells or the battery case are pierced by steel or another ferrous metal.

In November, the NHTSA conducted three more side-impact crash tests with three additional Volts. Two of them sparked or caught fire while the third remained normal. From there, GM did everything it could to make customers happy, from buying Volts back to offering loaner vehicles to scared Volt drivers.

In early January, GM recalled all 8,000 Volts on the road as well as the 4,400 for sale in showrooms. The automaker added steel to the plate that protects the EV's 400-pound battery. The NHTSA said this fix did the trick, but GM CEO Dan Akerson still had to testify before Congress in regards to the fires.

The entire situation seems to have put the Volt in a bad light for some, possibly affecting the January 2012 sales numbers. In fact, former GM Vice Chairman for Special Advisor Design and Global Product Development Bob Lutz said earlier this week that the media ruined the Volt's reputation with negative coverage. More specifically, Lutz targeted "right-wing media."

"But the Oscar for totally irresponsible journalism has to go to The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, with, as its key guest, Lou Dobbs," said Lutz. "Amid much jocular yukking, the Volt was depicted as a typical federal failure. In attempting to explain why Chevy has sold fewer than 8,000 Volts, Dobbs states, flatly, 'It doesn't work.' He elaborates, 'It doesn't go fast and go far on electricity. What happens is it catches fire.'"

Source: The Detroit News

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No need to blame the media
By MeesterNid on 2/2/2012 10:50:22 AM , Rating: 5
Sticking a $40k price tag on a Chevy Cruze achieved failure pretty nicely on it's own.

RE: No need to blame the media
By rdhood on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: No need to blame the media
By bobsmith1492 on 2/2/2012 12:09:56 PM , Rating: 4
The Volt has a >300 mile driving range and can run on gas like any car. How hard is that to understand... sheesh.

RE: No need to blame the media
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/12, Rating: -1
By bobsmith1492 on 2/2/2012 12:46:40 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I understand why it's not selling. I drive an '89 Bronco II and probably won't ever pay more than $5k for a car. New cars are a total waste of money, especially one for $40,000.

RE: No need to blame the media
By gregpet on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: No need to blame the media
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/12, Rating: -1
RE: No need to blame the media
By Qapa on 2/3/2012 9:29:31 PM , Rating: 2
People are not stupid and I don't believe that was what was meant.

Still, most people are ignorant of what Volt really is.

And as marketing, if you need to explain, people lose interest - so this won't get across except for people who are reading and looking for it.

Also, even you are agreeing that explaining is a hard battle, just look at the points you mention as negatives that people use not to buy the car:
- "worse than hybrid because more expensive"
-- true, but can get cheaper in the long run, but you'd need to make estimates... no one wants to do that, if you even know that that was possible..;
- "avg person drive more than EV range"
-- that is simply not true, plenty of statistics pointing otherwise. Also if you can charge at your long term destinations (job, shopping, sports, etc) you can get even more EV range (maybe not all right now, yes...).
- "MPG isn't mind blowing"
-- considering this alone is just wrong! This must be combined with EV range. Again.. most people will see MPG and be done with it... they don't know it doesn't mean much alone. Examples:
--- person X drives 45 miles per day, MPG is only a factor for 5 miles a day, or 11%, so not that relevant
--- person Y drives 200 miles per day, MPG is a factor for 160 miles, or 80%, which is very relevant

Are you still reading?

Now the real question is, did every car buyer read about all of this or take this into consideration?

No. So no matter if this is an adequate car for lots of people it will be a hard sale until this knowledge gets more common.


Also, I personally believe that they made a mistake.. of sorts... because they are marketing it as an (ER)EV, which is:
- good for getting the gov. EV discount;
- bad because most people tend to think EVs have very limited range;

And finally, you shouldn't think that most people think like "you", "we", "us", or whatever other "small group of people that read some specific sites". Most people are not here. We are a few, even if a few thousands... The millions of car buyers are not here, not most of them. Most of them don't understand all this.

Hell, even lots of people HERE get p*ssed for some EV explaining and supporting comments (not talking about "it is great because I say so" comments).

So, how the hell do you expect common, uninformed people to know more?

RE: No need to blame the media
By idiot77 on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: No need to blame the media
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/12, Rating: -1
RE: No need to blame the media
By MeesterNid on 2/2/2012 1:15:54 PM , Rating: 5
hehe, no, I did mean "Chevy Cruze" as that's basically what this thing is...just with more batteries.

RE: No need to blame the media
By StanO360 on 2/2/2012 1:22:19 PM , Rating: 5
He could me Cruze, it's not a lot more car than the Cruze for twice the money, including a generous contribution from you and I both for GM and the Volt in particular.

I for one don't buy GM until they divest themselves from the government and repay the loans.

RE: No need to blame the media
By kmmatney on 2/2/2012 1:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
There was supposed to be a $7500 government rebate for the first 200K cars sold. is that still on?

RE: No need to blame the media
By Spuke on 2/2/2012 1:47:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's not a rebate, it's a tax credit.

RE: No need to blame the media
By bobsmith1492 on 2/2/2012 4:55:21 PM , Rating: 2
Same difference...

RE: No need to blame the media
By Solandri on 2/2/2012 7:10:02 PM , Rating: 3
A rebate is $7500 cash back. A $7500 tax credit is equivalent to cash back only if your federal income tax exceeds $7500.

$5800 standard deduction
10% of next $8025 = $802.50 tax
15% of next $24525 = $3678.75 tax
25% of next $12075 = $3018.75 tax

Total $50425 income = $7500 tax

So if you make less than $50,425 and take the standard deduction, you can't get the full $7500 tax credit. If you're married, head of household, or itemize your deductions, the income threshold is even higher before you can take the full $7500 tax credit.

RE: No need to blame the media
By bobsmith1492 on 2/3/2012 9:04:31 AM , Rating: 2
True, I figured anyone who can shell out $40K for a car should be paying that much in tax easily.

RE: No need to blame the media
By JediJeb on 2/3/2012 12:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
I always wondered just how that tax credit worked. For me I would not qualify since I make about $48K(even less taxable because of my 401K contributions ) and really I am considered middle to upper middle class in this area. This really is a rebate only for mostly wealthy people.

Oh and around here there are people making less than me paying $40k for vehicles, though I don't know how in the world they finance them.

RE: No need to blame the media
By Qapa on 2/3/2012 9:37:09 PM , Rating: 2
Not really, but what is really bad is that, maybe someone getting $30K/year and think about getting this car but you'd pay more than someone getting $60K/year.

This "discount" is to make it easier to get more people to buy this "new tech" so that more people get informed about it and is it easier for it to penetrate the market.

So, how does it make any sense to help most the people that would have the less problem in buying it?!

RE: No need to blame the media
By alpha754293 on 2/2/2012 2:22:38 PM , Rating: 4
That's a $40k car that takes premium gas. I can get a Cruze for like $17k. That's a difference of $23k. And at $4/gal (which is a little high for now), that's 5750 gals. And even for the MY12 Cruze's 30 mpg combined, that's 172500 miles. And that's JUST to break even with the price difference.

Which means if you're an ultra-urban driver, well...a) there are other cars available that can do the job as well, if not better, than the Volt or b) if you're not, the Volt only beats it's Cruze sibling by 2 mpg highway.

The only thing that the Volt has going for it is that it is the ONLY PHEV that's available right now. Fisker's Karma performance is a TBD. (Fisker as a whole is a TBD...) and Toyota's Prius PHEV - well...the base Prius already gets amazing fuel economy (50 mpg combined) for like $24k (the last time I checked), which is only a the cost difference between the Volt and the Cruze. Translated - that means you can by a Cruze AND a Prius for the price of a Volt.

Happy shopping!

RE: No need to blame the media
By sleepeeg3 on 2/2/2012 6:14:00 PM , Rating: 3
Assuming the worst case scenario (25miles on electric, 12 hour recharge time), it would take you 9.5 years to drive that far if you drove the Volt every day, every 12 hours.

The problem is with the expectations...
By StraightLine on 2/2/2012 2:04:12 PM , Rating: 3
What did you all expect? Of course it’s not selling well. Americans aren’t going to pay about $40k (dealership by me is selling a new one for $27k.) for a car with that much size and power. End of story. Remember… we’ve been making improvements on cars for what 60 or 70 years? A new technology will not be able to compete on the first attempt, but an electric motor car is the future. Stop talking like this is a failure. Success isn’t only about sales and money. Look at how we laughed at the first brick-sized cell phones. The Volt is a stepping stone in a long journey.

Govt intervention isn’t always bad either. I don’t want the govt’s hands in my business either, but it can work. Look at Ginnie Mae/Freddie Mac… those organizations (along with the govt allowing mortgage interest to be tax deductible) made home ownership available to the average American by diversifying risk away from the local banks. Yes, they screwed up bad a few years ago, but the system is still envied and studied by countries around the world. It is ok for the govt to help out emerging technologies, especially when we know we’ll be using them. Gas is predicted to be close to $5/gallon this summer, I don’t want a slow transition away from it because of stupid politics. The Volt is NOT part of a democratic agenda. If GM succeeds we all win.

RE: The problem is with the expectations...
By limp on 2/2/2012 2:45:01 PM , Rating: 3
This is not new technology. It is a gas powered locomotive, that runs on a street, with a small battery back-up. There is NO WAY to justify it other than an ego boost.

By omnicronx on 2/3/2012 2:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
What analogy were you trying to make here?

Because for the most part even diesel electric locomotives (The old technology you speak of) do not have the ICE powering the wheels directly, just like the Volt, most of the time it merely serves as a generator for the battery.

The Volt can run as an all electric, series hybrid or parralell hybrid, but for the most part it is the battery powering the vehicle, not the ICE.

I.e Whether are talking about locomotives or the Volt, neither has a 'small battery backup'

I always laugh at these 'not new technology' statements as though an idea has to be developed from scratch without external influence in order by be considered viable.

Bububub..."Faux" News...
By Arsynic on 2/2/2012 12:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Let's blame Fox News for this because we know that the government didn't release this information about the Volts catching fire and no other media outlets reported on it.

RE: Bububub..."Faux" News...
By JimboK29 on 2/2/2012 12:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
I'm shocked no one blamed Bush yet.

By KPOM1 on 2/2/2012 7:03:30 PM , Rating: 3
Bob Lutz is right. If not for Bill O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs, the Volt would be flying off the shelves just like the Nissan Leaf. Oh, wait a minute...

This car never should have been a Chevy....
By rjwerth on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
By Voldenuit on 2/2/2012 9:22:34 PM , Rating: 2
The Cadillac XLR sold 12 (!) cars in its last model year.

Rebadging the Volt with a wreath logo would not be enough to save it.

Time for a fire sale
By Voldenuit on 2/2/2012 2:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
/boom tish.

Lutz is out of touch
By limp on 2/2/2012 2:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
It is most difficult to believe that Lutz is blaming the media for damaging the Volts reputation and sales. When you come out with a product that is overpriced, under sized, does not have a payback in fuel savings, is inconvenient and cannot be used by most of the market because they don't own their own home and you blame the media for its demise. Suggest you go back to your marketing group and fire them all and then resign. To make matters worse our already broke government is wasting tens of thousands of dollars on every one of these losers you produce. Mr. Lutz, you are a very misguided person.

By Madcz on 2/2/2012 10:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
As the owner of a V8 powered sports car and a larger people moving suv, the only thing i see wrong with the volt is the price. If GM could somehow get the price down to about 25 to 30k before rebate i'd be sold. The idea of never normally having to stop at a gas station just makes me giddy.

I also can't believe how big of a deal is being made of the car catching fire WEEKS after an intentional crash. What about conventional cars catching fire immediately after an accident; why isn't that a big deal?

By btc909 on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
"All 8000 volts"
By Shadowmaster625 on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
If I'm GM's PR Department
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/12, Rating: -1
RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By Brandon Hill on 2/2/2012 10:55:26 AM , Rating: 2
Say what? The Cruze is a nice car, but it isn't outselling the Camry.

2011 Totals:

Camry: 308,510
Cruze: 231,732

That being said, if I was looking for a compact sedan, it'd be between the Cruze and the Elantra

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/2012 11:04:13 AM , Rating: 2
One source said it is, and another I found said it's #2. That's why I said "depending on source". Point is either way, it's a sales HIT! This is car people want. There's consumer demand. And it could sell even more if they actually PUSHED it even half as much as the Volt.

Regardless, thanks for missing my point entirely :)

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By Brandon Hill on 2/2/2012 11:15:09 AM , Rating: 2
And my point was, you can't fudge sales numbers. So I just simply went to GM and Toyota's PR for 2011 sales and boom, there ya have it :)

There's no sorta-maybe when it comes to numbers :)

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By JimboK29 on 2/2/2012 12:47:58 PM , Rating: 1
you can't fudge sales numbers

Sure you can! GM did it with the Volt by wrapping in the number of Volts given to gov't offices.

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By angryplayer on 2/2/2012 12:02:23 PM , Rating: 2
Cruze is a compact, and therefore should be compared with the Corolla. That said, Corolla's numbers are: 240,259.

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By kattanna on 2/2/2012 10:57:58 AM , Rating: 3
I'm in my closet

so.. is today when you finally come out??


sorry man.. but you made it too easy to pass up LOL

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By Brandon Hill on 2/2/2012 10:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
John Travolta and Tom Cruise are in there with him :)

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By Reclaimer77 on 2/2/2012 11:23:01 AM , Rating: 2
Hahaha it's all good. I can make fun of myself Katt :)

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By LordSojar on 2/2/2012 11:14:41 AM , Rating: 1
Lutz, you have the hottest car in the country right now. And NOBODY from GM is talking about it. The Chevy Cruze (remember that car?) depending on what source I found, is the #1 selling car in America. It's beating the Camry! When's the last time GM did that!?

Now Reclaimer, while it's not outselling the Camry, you do have a point.

However, let's just take your point and move it outward. They could just design a Volt-esque PHEV vehicle inside the Cruze's body and sell it as the highest end luxury package. This way, you'd see better sales numbers, you wouldn't have the fugly that is the Volt and you'd be able to get away from the "BURNING UP THE ROAD BABY (oh and your family in the car)" stigma that the Volt has now. Honestly, if they let me be CEO for a few weeks even, I'd have GM doing some pretty good things.

The unfortunate thing is that they let totally investor centric people be CEOs or they let these guys who have this "marvel of technology," that they push even if it tosses their company into an early grave, be CEOs.... never someone who is balanced and... ya know, intelligent on both fronts (or as I like to call it, practical/pragmatic).

The Volt's issue is many fold, but two big ones are that it was a first generation technology that still had a few bugs (which I'm sure GM has easy fixes for at this point), it was way too expensive, it was ugly as all get out (my opinion, you can agree or disagree), and it wasn't marketed in a manner that really would have sold it to the general public.

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By BPB on 2/2/2012 1:30:32 PM , Rating: 2
The unfortunate thing is that they let totally investor centric people be CEOs or they let these guys who have this "marvel of technology," that they push even if it tosses their company into an early grave, be CEOs.... never someone who is balanced and... ya know, intelligent on both fronts (or as I like to call it, practical/pragmatic).

Who is they? This man was essentlially given the job by the Whitehouse. The same folks who killed my car, which was selling very well but has a V8 for a motor.

RE: If I'm GM's PR Department
By MonkeyPaw on 2/2/2012 1:57:31 PM , Rating: 1
I think the better parallel here is how Toyota still has a top seller after their PR nightmare with the accelerator debacle. It seems Americans are willing to let bygones be bygones and will buy what they like. The Volt is actually an achievement in engineering, a first of its kind, but that doesn't make it a real solution to most people. It seems to target the wrong segment for the price it commands.

Besides, if GM is being honest, most of their volt buyers aren't Fox news people, so media slander just doesn't work. Even then, MT gave it car of the year honors, so it hasn't been all bad press for GM.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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