Volt Production Halted; What’s Next?
GM is temporarily laying off some 1,300 workers as it suspends production of the Volt at its Detroit Hamtramck plant. There are simply too many Volts in dealer inventory waiting to be sold: five months versus the normal two-month supply of cars.
The car had a good jump in sales last month, however, as GM sold 1,023 Volts—420 more than in January. Of course these numbers are peanuts compared to the stupid predictions GM and the USDOE have claimed over time. But it was good news for the Volt!
Edward Niedermeyer is ventilating (and also making some good points) about “The Twilight of the Volt” in the above-referenced article. Indeed, the history of this car is not only a testament to GM’s grand failure in marketing it but to the Obama administration’s continual promotion of the Volt, which made it a symbol of partisan politics. Niedermeyer is right about this.
After the phony fire scare, the company attempted to fight fire with ads, which campaign by itself isn’t going to light any fire under potential buyers. The campaign was aimed at creating an image of patriotic green: “It’s the car America had to build.”
Come on, guys. The only way the Volt can survive is by a big price cut, or an incentive program, and a strong appeal to explain and promote its technological sophistication to those buyers who get it. And this will take some time.
One man explained why he bought a Prius Plug-in rather than a Volt or Leaf. Part of his reasoning was that “the regular hybrid Prius has been around for 13 years, and has a proven track record for quality and reliability.” He also thought the Volt “looks too much like an ordinary car,” which it does.
As well as it has done with the Cruze, GM has made every mistake in the book with the Volt. The car’s history of course begins pre-bailout, but it has been confounded with bailout politics and really bad management decisions.
Maybe Akerson & Co. can learn finally how to sell a niche-market car and commit to the time this will take. We hope so.
Will the Volt make it, or will GM simply cut its losses? Let us have your thinking.
P.S. We learn that the old monster Packard plant in Detroit is finally going to be demolished. The plant had been idle since 1958, after playing a major role in auto history and World War II production. Its decay has been a sad comment on our times and the history of Detroit. Look at these pictures.