Back in 2007 when I started GM-Volt.com I was tremendously inspired to do so by the potential the Chevy Volt offered: limitless conventional driving with the chance to use little or no gasoline.
Over the years we fanned the flames of enthusiasm here to show GM how much we wanted this car and actually helped to get the program launched.
We watched with great anticipation as the car went from a back of the napkin idea in GM VP Jon Lauckner’s head into a full production launch in late 2010.
In those days we often thought GMs projections of 10,000 Volt sales in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012 would be too little. We believed and wanted to believe a car of this importance and tremendous technology would be adopted at even greater rates.
Over the past year or so we have finally had the chance to see just how many Volts would be sold. It turns out not as many. GM only sold 7671 Volts in 2011 and are on a similar track for 2012 so far. The same thing has happened for the all electric Nissan LEAF as well. And yet, many other EVs are either in the pipelines or already have been launched.
So what’s the deal with the adoption curve?
Although there is a lot of curiosity, interest, and awareness it appears much of the American pubic is remaining on the sidelines. There are several reasons why.
For one thing the Volt and other EVs remain costly compared to their gas counterparts. Cheap gas cars and cheap hybrids make the cost of operation lower than driving the Volt.
Despite the federal tax credit, the $40,000 Volt price tag remains out of reach to many would-be buyers and for many there many not be enough liability to enjoy the tax credit.
At present volumes GM isn’t in a position to drop price yet, but over time as economies of scale come fully into play they will. In fact, just knowing that prices may one day drop may be keeping some on the sidelines for now as they wait for that day to come. The first plasma screen were $10,000 for 32 inches when they first came out. Now they are a few hundred dollars and everybody has one. This will happen with the Volt but will take time.
Lack of familiarity with the technology and fear of the unknown are also keeping buyers away. The media barrage about the irrelevant battery fires further kindled and grew this group significantly. They may need years of error free operation by the population at large as well as proof the cars retain their value before they buy.
Furthermore the use of the Volt as a political tool has pushed some conservative would-be buyers into the sideline. Some conservative media pundits have portrayed the car as a tool for the democrats to get a government bailout for GM to save union jobs. Though many conservatives would love to avoid using foreign oil they are being manipulated in this way to view the car negatively.
So patient we must be. The electric car is here to stay and the Volt is the best foot forward right now. Sales will eventually come along, it just make take a a bit more time.
GM has announced they are temporarily suspending production at the DHAM plant until unsold inventory shrinks and will build the car not to a random number but to demand. Simple smart business.
So in the meantime all of us owners need to do our part as pioneers spreading the word and sharing the message and helping encourage those on the sidelines help get this country off of oil and to see the car for what is really is – a tour-de-force of technology and shining example of American ingenuity and engineering.
GM has begun a new ad campaign recruiting Volt owners to tell the world how happy they are with this car.
Though I wasn’t invited to participate, I have offered to do so if GM wants. I know I am very happy with it.
These days I continue to love driving my Volt and avoiding the use of gas. I have also launched an interesting website to aggregate all the day’s automotive news socially. It is called veh.cl. Please check it out.
See you on the roads!