GM: Chevrolet Volt Production to Restart Earlier Than Expected Due to Sales Uptick
April 6, 2012 11:02 AM
The production halt was expected to last four weeks, but will resume a few days early
After a temporary halt in March, General Motors (GM) has announced that
production of the Chevrolet Volt
will start back up earlier than expected on April 16.
On March 19, GM put a halt on Chevrolet Volt production in order to get rid of some of the older versions of the plug-in electric hybrid and make room for those with the recent battery fix. Also, new Volts with the changes made for the California market are making their way into the inventory.
The production halt was expected to last for four weeks. However, new reports show that Volt production will resume a few days earlier than planned. GM has already started notifying Detroit-Hamtramck plant employees, where the Volt is assembled.
It's a good time to bring Volt production back to life, since it seems that Volt popularity has risen recently. In March, U.S.
Volt sales shot up to 2,289
, which is its best month yet since release. Of that total, 2,129 were sold to retail customers while 160 were sold to fleet customers.
Even former Republican
President George H.W. Bush jumped on the opportunity to buy a Volt
, and gave it to his son, Neil Bush, as a birthday present.
This surge in sales couldn't have come at a better time, either. The Volt had a difficult year throughout much of 2011 and during the beginning of 2012 due to problems with battery fires.
In May 2011, Chevrolet's Volt caught fire three weeks after a side-impact crash test conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Volt was parked in a NHTSA testing facility in Wisconsin, and was so severe that it ended up catching nearby cars on fire as well. This led to an investigation into the safety of lithium batteries.
Later, in November 2011, NHTSA conducted three more side-impact crash tests on three separate Volts.
Two out of three ended up sparking or catching fire
while the third remained normal.
GM moved quickly, offering loaner vehicles to customers and even buying Volts back from scared owners. In January 2012,
GM recalled 8,000 Volts off the road
as well as another 4,400 for sale in showrooms to fix the batteries. The fix entailed the addition of steel to the plate that protects the EV's T-shaped, 400-pound battery. This aimed to prevent penetration into the battery in case of an auto accident, and would stop both coolant from leaking and would evenly distribute the force of a crash.
The investigation placed a
bad image on the Volt
for awhile. Customers were afraid to purchase it, and
dealerships wanted nothing to do with it
since it wasn't selling.
in January 2012 with only 603 Volts sold.
But it looks as if the Volt's luck is turning around, with March sales at its best and an early production start beginning in 10 days.
"It seems like we've sustained ourselves through this difficult period," said Dan Akerson, GM CEO. "We hope to get up to 3,000 plus in the coming months and are certainly positioning it."
According to Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, the Volt made a comeback because people are beginning to get to know the car well and understand how it works.
"We're matching production with demand," said Reuss.
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Chevy Volt Sales Surpass 2,000 for March, George H.W. Bush Buys Volt for Son
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Chevrolet Volt Production Restarted at Detroit Plant; Volts Being Sent to California
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