Now that the latest monthly sales numbers for the Chevrolet Volt are in (and, yes, they were lower in May), we wanted to share a few lines of thought about what might be going on. First, let's put together the pieces we know and that everyone agrees on.
Point One: General Motors has long said that Volt production, which began late last year, would ramp up slowly. It also said in March that Volt sales would rise in May.
Point Two: In mid-May, GM issued a statement confirming it planned to shut down the Hamtramck, MI plant where the Volt is made for four weeks beginning in June in order to get ready for the 2012 Volt and Opel Ampera models. (GM has historically had two-week annual summer shutdowns to effect model year changeovers). As GM notes, this temporary shutdown of the Volt's assembly lines will "result in limited availability and reduced sales [of the Volt] in June and July."
So, instead of sales rising in May (which they obviously didn't), GM now seems to be suggesting an increase won't happen until August. All along, we've heard that the problem is limited supply. We asked GM spokesperson Rob Peterson about this (again) and he told AutoblogGreen:
But - and here's the kicker - at least one GM representative has reportedly admitted that the Volt's problem is soft demand, not low production. Speaking with the Daily Caller, GM's Director of Policy and Washington Communications, Greg Martin, said that (as paraphrased by the Daily Caller):
"We have limited supply of Volts - as of earlier this week, our records indicated that there were fewer than 200 available on dealer lots (some sites will show more as dealers often post vehicles with delivery dates in the future). Many of those on the ground are in the process of sales as well, so again - supply is very thin (especially when you consider we have nearly 600 dealers in launch markets). Volt sales have leveled off in April, May and June. July will be low as the plant is now shut down and the pipeline will dry up. However, when production begins again in mid-July, the line will be running nearly three-fold.
So, what's really going on here? Peterson said he would check the Daily Caller story and potentially ask for a correction, so perhaps the reporter didn't get the story straight, or perhaps Martin is uninformed, but given his position, this seems unlikely. Either way, it's likely to take at least a few more months of sales before we can have enough of a trend to judge whether the Volt is really selling well or not.
"Its underwhelming sales numbers have a lot to do with the fact that it's a new vehicle, there still is not an adequate infrastructure in place for the advanced battery, and the technology is only scalable to a certain point. That means that any GM-manufactured electric car will be a small car "with a technology that comes with a price." Not exactly the apple of the soccer mom's eye."
What do you think is really going on? Have your say in Comments.
[Source: Daily Caller]