When General Motors unveiled plans to temporarily halt production of the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt for five weeks, the announcement was widely portrayed as the demise of one of our favorite vehicles. Well, we’re here to tell you that the bad news is all hype – the Chevy Volt is here to stay, and the electric vehicle market is just getting started. Where gasoline once had a monopoly on the market, now even the President of the United States is putting his weight behind algae, fuel cells, and electric vehicles. We predict that as one of the first to make a splash, the Volt will climb over this five week slump and continue to be sold as one of America’s most innovative driving machines – read on to learn why.
GM announced plans to temporarily halt production of the Chevy Volt due to smaller than expected sales. In order not to cut the price of the Volt, Chevy has decided to shut down production, sell out the inventory, and then return to production once all the Volts sitting on lots have been sold. This downturn in sales could actually be normal; GM sold 1,626 Volts in the first two months of this year – far short of their goals – but that number is still significant. Perhaps this hiccup is due to GM trying to shoot the moon, or perhaps it is due to a misunderstanding public. This volt is a new concept – a new technology that people are going to have to warm up to before they feel comfortable moving away from their gasoline addictions, especially at this price point. So let’s detail the problems the Volt has had and see if we can help Chevy work around them. We can’t let the first successful plug-in hybrid electric vehicle get run over because of a month-long shut down in production.
One of the most notable hiccups came back in December, when headlines reported that there was a possibility that Volt batteries could, in a perfect storm, catch on fire. Although it took awhile, Chevy resolved the mechanical issue and the vehicle now has a clean bill of health from the government. In the meantime, the media folks over at Chevy were less than speedy in handling the situation and explaining the issue to the public. Thus, the general populous has been left with the feeling that Volts could spontaneously combust on the highway.
The truth is that the mechanical issue, which is now fixed, caused a fire to break out in a Volt battery that had been in a high-speed crash test two weeks before the flames appeared. The fire was caused by a damaged battery sitting around for two weeks, and the possibility of it happening in the real world is slim. The folks at Chevy understood the problem, didn’t think it was a big deal, and decided not to hype it. The problem was that the media didn’t understand the situation – the headline was hyped anyway, leaving Chevy to chime in and fix things. They weren’t able to repair public perception and lingering fears remain.