Brit Liggett

INTERVIEW: Rob Peterson Of Chevy Talks Volt Production Shutdown, Reveals High Customer Satisfaction

by , 04/02/12

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There is a buzz in the air this week about the Chevy Volt thanks to an announcement by General Motors on Friday that they’ll be shutting down production of the Volt at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for five weeks. While the news media geared up to make this announcement look like the end for this highly-publicized plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, we bet that this decision to equalize supply with demand is just a Volt growing pain. So, we went straight to the horse’s mouth and asked Rob Peterson of Chevy Volt Communications about the Volt team’s take on this whole situation. It seems the feeling inside the company is decidedly positive — something you might not envision if you just listened to Google News and your television. Peterson started off the interview by telling assuring us what we already though was true, “this is just an opportunity to adjust our inventory levels, it is just temporary,” and then let us in on some insights from the Chevy crew.

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As we explained in an article earlier today, and as many outlets have pointed out, the Republican primary contenders have been using the Volt as a scapegoat for assaults against the “radical left.” Peterson said that though their attacks might seem baffling, he can look at things from their perspective.

“President Obama has been out in front trying to create a national alternative energy policy and part of that is assisting in the diversification of fuel used for automobiles. He has put a target out for one million plug-in electric vehicles for 2015,” Peterson pointed out. “Then there is the action he took in assisting in the bailout of General Motors. What is happening right now is there are people out there that did not support the bailout and they did not support government incentives in trying to spur an industry such as this. [sic] The Volt fits in both of these categories. It makes it an easy target for these people to go after in order to differentiate themselves from the policy of the President.”

Even though Peterson alluded to the fact that he could grasp the reasoning behind the Republican stance, he made sure to note that he didn’t agree with the punches. He followed up that statement by noting that the Volt, “promotes energy security in the United States, it is manufactured here in the United States, it is about innovation, about an organization trying to do something bigger than just what the organization is. So, it is a little bit of a dichotomy for those people that oppose it.”

Peterson also made mention that perhaps the biggest problem in this hiccup is being the first line out to battle in the electric vehicle wars. “The key thing here is that the Volt is not that much different than all these other new technology vehicles but there is an adoption curve. The adoption rate can’t just take off but eventually it will reach a tipping point. But you have to be out there first, we’ve been out there for awhile,” Peterson told us. “We’ve stumbled here with the investigation of the battery fires, which put a little bit of a damper on sales but we are seeing a recovery in sales, there is positive momentum out there which is a great sign for us.” He reiterated to us that this small speed bump and temporary factory shut down was just a moment for Chevy to catch its breath, reassess the situation, and let sales catch up with production.

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