Facing slow sales, GM temporarily idles Volt production line

2011 sales of the new PHEV totaled 7,671, well short of the company’s target of 10,000 units. So far this year, about 1,600 have left the lots.

 

GM announced it would halt production of the Volt for five weeks, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday. The company’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant will be idled, and its 1,300 assembly-line workers will be temporarily laid off.

“Even with sales up in February over January, we are still seeking to align our production with demand,” said GM spokesman Chris Lee.

2011 sales of the new PHEV totaled 7,671, well short of the company’s target of 10,000 units. GM previously hoped to sell 45,000 Volts in the US in 2012, but now says it will simply build them to meet demand. So far this year, about 1,600 have left the lots.

Predictably, the conservative media were jubilant at the news. The Wall Street Journal, for one, struck an “I told you so” tone, (justly) pointing out that, with the Volt’s price over double that of its legacy sibling the Cruze, an average driver might take 12 years to break even on the fuel savings.

GM CEO Dan Akerson famously told Congress in January, “We did not design the Volt to become a political punching bag and that’s what it’s become.”

With the Obama Administration’s bailout of GM becoming a major election-year issue, the battering has surely just begun. The only way the Volt can win the bout is to take a beating worthy of Rocky, and come back punching in the next round with a lower-priced, better model.

Perhaps in the nick of time, Envia Systems, a company in which GM is a major investor, announced last week that they have built a new type of li-ion battery that could cut the Volt’s battery costs by three quarters in as little as 3 years. 

 

Image: GM