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Dealerships are turning down Volts GM wants to send them due to the recent battery fires and lack of sales

Earlier this month, GM announced that it was looking to pull in all 8,000 Chevrolet Volts off U.S. roads as well as the 4,400 for sale in showrooms for a battery recall. Volt dealers addressed the battery issues by adding steel to the plate that protects the EV's T-shaped, 400-pound battery. This steel would protect any penetration that could occur in an auto accident, and also evenly distribute the force of a crash. NHTSA tested the steel addition and announced that it would be a good fix.

Fixing the battery problem still hasn't made dealers feel any better, though. In fact, some Chevrolet dealers are turning away Volts that GM wants to ship to them partially because they're waiting for the fire situation to settle, and partially because the car just isn't selling the way GM wants it to.

Last month, GM sent 104 Volts to 14 dealers in the New York City market. The dealers only took 31 of them, which is the lowest rate take for any Chevrolet model in that particular market last month according to Automotive News.

Over on the west coast, Brett Hedrick, dealer principal at Hedrick's Chevrolet in Clovis, California, sold only 10 Volts last year total. For December 2011 and January 2012, he turned down all six Volt EVs allocated to him.

"[GM's] thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy," said Hedrick. "We've never sold more than two in a month."

This is particularly odd because Hedrick said he normally accepts most of the vehicles that GM allocates to his dealership.

GM sold a total of 7,671 Volts in the U.S. in 2011, which didn't quite hit the 10,000 mark the automaker was hoping for. Now, instead of pursuing the original Volt production goal of 60,000 units (where 75 percent would be for U.S. sales) for 2012, GM said it would simply make as many as customers wanted.

Rob Peterson, a GM spokesman, said that dealers were indeed making less Volt orders in recent months and that the dealers were "waiting for resolution of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's investigation."

Back in May 2011, GM's Chevrolet Volt underwent a series of tests at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) facility in Wisconsin. Three weeks after a side-impact crash test conducted on May 12, the Volt caught fire while parked in the testing center.

The fire prompted an investigation of the safety of lithium batteries used in plug-in electric vehicles. Lithium batteries can catch fire if the internal cells or the battery case are pierced by steel or another ferrous metal. In November, NHTSA conducted three additional side-impact crash tests with three separate Volts, and two out of the three sparked/caught fire after testing.

These battery issues caught a lot of attention from GM, customers, NHTSA and now dealers. GM was more than willing to do whatever it took to fix the problem, including offering loaner vehicles to scared Volt drivers and buying back Volts from any owner that asks.

GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson was called to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in regards to the Volt's battery fires last year. This testimony coupled with the recent recall should hopefully offer some resolution and put worried minds at ease.

Source: Automotive News



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I doubt the fire risk is that high
By Beenthere on 1/23/2012 8:59:59 PM , Rating: 2
GM has made changes so I doubt the fire risk is that high. Probably about as much of an issue as proper recycling of the batteries.

I think people are realizing EVs are not practical for 98% of society. If the big EV makers can sell 10K units annually they better thank their lucky stars. At least they can be profitable at this level and spout green to the tree huggers.




By kattanna on 1/24/2012 10:14:33 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I think people are realizing EVs are not practical for 98% of society


quote:
pull in all 8,000 Chevrolet Volts off U.S. roads as well as the 4,400 for sale in showrooms


since over 1/3 of all units made are still sitting in showroom floors, i would have to agree.

now when they can get them to recharge rapidly and have some decent range like we have with regular cars i would buy one in a minute..if they are also affordable, which $40,000 is certainly not


By Flunk on 1/24/2012 10:18:48 AM , Rating: 4
Your conclusion doesn't really fit the facts, the Volt isn't an EV. It's a Hybrid and a very overpriced one at that.


RE: I doubt the fire risk is that high
By hartleyb on 1/24/2012 12:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
The bottom line is that hybrids and EV's are still very much in the experimental phase. The Volt, as well as the Prius, have had a number of issues, though none that I would say are show stoppers if you are in the market for this type of vehicle. If you live in the city, are in the market for a new car, don't commute a long distance to work, the volt could be a good investment. However the majority of Americans are not interested in these types of vehicles because they drive long distances, and there is a lack of infrastructure and support. The price of gas could go to $10.00 a gallon and Americans would still not go out and buy the volt or any similar type car in mass. Many of us, myself included, like our gas guzzling SUV's.


By Ammohunt on 1/24/2012 1:51:54 PM , Rating: 2
I call BS on your Prius comments they are just patently false. My 2004 Prius has 255k miles on it and still averages 50MPG I drive it on the highway every work day 150 miles round trip. Other than a couple recalls(far less than other cars I have owned) the only problem I have had with it was the smaller battery that controls the cabin electronics died; something the mechanic said was common after 150k miles. I still have the original front brake pads on the car!


By kmmatney on 1/24/2012 2:54:15 PM , Rating: 2
What you said only makes since for EVs, but not for hybrids. Hybrids have no trouble with long distances, since they ultimately run on gas. My wife's parents only 2 Prius's, both approaching 100K miles, and haven't had any problems with them.


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