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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.'"

Source: The Detroit News

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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.

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