January Chevrolet Volt Sales Plunge
February 2, 2012 10:25 AM
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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.'"
The Detroit News
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RE: No need to blame the media
2/2/2012 1:44:08 PM
It's not selling because it's complicated and if your explaining your losing...
A person who drives less than 40 miles a day (my daily loop is about 25) can drive for weeks (maybe months) without using gas. And then you have the range extender (gas engine) for longer trips (also no range anxiety).
It's a great car (multiple awards) and amazing technology (that every American should be proud of) but no one wants to slow down long enough to get in to the details to fully understand the concept.
Again, if your explaining, your losing...
RE: No need to blame the media
2/2/2012 3:39:58 PM
Okay the whole "people are stupid" thing can only go so far. People aren't as stupid as you think, or else the Volt would be selling MORE. I think most people see the Volt as a worse option than a hybrid because it's grossly more expensive, the average person does drive more than its EV range, and it's MPG isn't mind-blowing.
You make the Volt out to sound like rocket science. That's pretty condescending. I think we all understand the Volt is an EV that has gas range extension. But, hello, people mostly don't want an EV. Not at this price anyway.
Also people want to pretend there's no backlash against Obama and the bailouts in the minds of the consumers over the Volt. But that must be having some effect. People who "buy American" are so upset, they have taken their business to Ford because they didn't take bailout money.
RE: No need to blame the media
2/3/2012 9:29:31 PM
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?
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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