Yesterday a reader who periodically writes comments pointing out faults with the Volt and GM, and who points out how Toyota is doing better had more to say along those lines.
One of the reasons criticism persists – not the only reason – is because there are gaps in GM’s armor, or pick your metaphor.
The Volt is an awesome car. There’s little question about that, but I rebutted some criticism.
As we know GM has a new chance lined up for Gen 2. It will have learned lessons we hope from the Gen 1 period from Dec. 2010 to now.
Here’s the point I batted down. It was late, I was tired, so forgive me if I missed anything.
Critique: The problem is that GM built a car that did not appeal beyond EV Zealots. And the low sales reflect this. The EV Zealots seem to think the problem is with the public. Well, the public is what it is. To get the car to sell, it will have to have wider appeal.
My off-the-cuff reply:
A full analysis is open to debate, but I do not think it’s as simple as GM’s product having narrow appeal.
GM’s marketing or lack thereof plays into it.
Also the Volt was the victim of early on severe public bashing by no less that the presidential candidate, screed artists, writers of false hit pieces.
And GM was coming from dark days of public distrust, and bankruptcy, and a low point of trust for the company.
And let’s not forget the NHTSA fire safety fiasco where they crashed a Volt, then left it parked with power in the battery to see what would happen after they’d ruptured it and allowed a coolant leak to short circuit.
And the Volt is all new, the only “EREV” on the road (besides now ELR) and there are people on principle who won’t buy the first of anything.
And early on the Volt was priced from $40k, and dealers gouged over that … now it’s $35k.
And the fed tax credit did not apply to everyone. A point of sale rebate for anyone would have been more equitable.
And the public does not understand the car. Is this the fault of EV zealots as you call them? Or is this because GM focuses on Calif and gave up on other markets?
Today almost 4 yrs into it many people do not know the car has a gas generator. They don’t know the difference between it and a Leaf, or Prius or other PHEVs for that matter.
It was all new. Tripped out of the starting gate.
I believe these are pretty verifiable facts; well documented, and each has been covered over the years.
And I am probably leaving out other reasons.
I won’t have time to engage in a debate on this though …
All I am saying is there are a multitude of factors that added up to bad synergy.
The new Volt’s powertrain looks very hopeful. I am really hoping this car will be as good as GM implicitly puts forth. I think they know better than to over promise and under deliver after all the hard lessons.
So again, here’s hoping.
As Jackson pointed out Gen 1 has done well enough to prompt GM to build Gen 2.
And this is true. It’s sold around 70,000 and is the top-selling U.S. plug-in, second-best globally behind the Leaf.
Cynically, or practically, you decide, also true is GM is committed to electrification because of CAFE and CARB, and it has already put all those Volts on the road.
Remember who killed electric car? It can’t do that again. It’s onward and upward.
But giving benefit of the doubt, I believe GM is committed despite the fact the Spark EV is a compliance car, Volt is marketed narrowly, and no Voltec spinoffs have come forth.
So now, with four years’ hindsight, what could GM have done differently? What should it do now?
You can make up a fantasy wish list, but better yet, speak to the corporation thinking for a global market with limitations and possibilities, not just what you want.
It’s not about you. It’s about GM and electrification of the automobile.
And of course this is not to bash GM. We have other helpful readers who like to do that. What can be said to GM to help launch the Gen 2 Volt and beyond?
I almost did not write this article because much will depend on the product – how good Gen 2 really is.
But it’s probably safe to say it’s better. And it’s a fresh start. Just the fact that it’s all new is a plus.
So what needs to happen? How should GM market this new car? People still don’t get it and gas is cheaper than bottled water these days, or almost.
Will GM price it right, or keep it for higher income earners?
Does GM really want to leapfrog the Toyota Prius in the sales arena?
What would you say to GM on this subject?
This week CEO Mary Barra spoke of well reasoning customers who are “thoughtfully” urging GM to step up, and she said GM wants to win, or else “why are we here?”
OK, good question. What will it take for GM to win in the electrification of the automobile, starting with Gen 2 Volt?