Sales of GM’s Chevrolet Volt are stronger than ever, with sales in March spiking to 2,289. The numbers gave the Volt its best month ever – up 277 percent from one year ago. The good news comes despite recent negative press over battery fires that broke out in three Volts, and GM’s decision to temporarily cease manufacturing until April 23.
The news should cheer plug-in hybrid electric car fans who have watched these cars slowly gain favor with consumers. Sales of the Chevy Volt had already rebounded in February after an awful January. Last month, the Volt even outsold the Corvette sports car and Avalanche pick-up truck. On top of that, sales of the Volt walloped those of the Nissan Leaf by four to one.
The uptick in sales indicates that consumers could warm up to plug-in cars like the Volt in the wake of rising gasoline prices. The Volt is an easier transition from automobiles with conventional internal combustion engine to electric vehicles for many drivers since the car carries a gasoline engine. Furthermore, the federal government’s acknowledgement that fears over the car’s crash protection were misplaced all along also benefits the Volt in the long run.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s attempt to boost tax credit for alternative-fueled cars like the Volt from $7,500 to $10,000 rankles GM executives who prefer that the Volt catches on in marketplace on its own merits. Conservative critics of Washington’s energy policy continue to lump the Volt with taxpayer-subsidized failures like Solyndra, arguing that the government should not pick winners and losers.
Setbacks aside, GM could see encouraging sales this year for the Volt. GM backed off its initial sales goal of 45,000 in 2012 after a slow 2011. But now the company could see 25,000 Volts roll off of dealership lots based on March’s encouraging sales figure. With Fox News positively reporting on the Volt’s progress and George W. Bush’s brother receiving a Volt for his 57th birthday, the Volt’s trajectory looks promising for GM and Detroit just two months after many commentators predicted its rapid demise.