By on October 7, 2011

The Chevrolet Volt may be beating cars like the Jaguar XF and the Lincoln MKT in the sales race, but GM won’t come close to building 120,000 of the plug-ins next year as the Department of Energy was expecting. Today GM confirmed to Automotive News [sub] that it will make 60,000 Volts next year… and it will do so while remaining on a single shift. GM had previously planned to add a second shift at the Det-Ham plant late this fall, but is putting that off until midway through next year, when production of the ’13 Malibu begins there. Until then, The General is adding 300 workers to the 10-hour, four-days-per-week single shift, a move the company says

will significantly reduce costs, and has no impact on the plant’s ability to make 60,000 Volts and Amperas (the European version of the Volt) in 2012.

Think 60,000 units is still more Volt than America will buy? Well, you’re right so far, but 15,000 of those will be exported to Europe, so GM only has to sell 45,000 US-market Volts next year. Although considering the Volt won’t crack 10,000 units this year, that’s still some strong projected growth. And as usual, the union local President sums up the situation with more candor than any executive would:

The sooner the better, but I guess demand will dictate when that happens. Hopefully we’ll get a third shift someday, too.

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68 Comments on “GM: Volt Second Shift Delayed, 60k Global Units Still Planned For 2012...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    45,000 US Volts in 2012? Not gonna happen, especially with the recession about to continue/restart.

    The single shift will have no trouble keeping up with demand.

    And GM’s hoped-for $5 gas won’t make this sales dream possible, either, not when truck sales are booming with $4 gas.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I do believe that GM will sell every Volt it actually makes and puts up for sale because whatever the number they actually make, it is just a drop in the bucket of the overall SAAR.

      Let’s say that GM does indeed manage to squirt out 45,000 Volts for the domestic market in 2012. If the anticipated SAAR for 2012 also is at least 13m then 45K is only 0.34615% of the total anticipated SAAR.

      If the total SAAR is greater than 13m then 45k becomes an even smaller and less significant amount of the total sales numbers. It can be done.

      Whether or not GM can actually crank out 60K Volts for the global market remains to be seen (that’s 5000 a month on average or roughly 28 per hour, 2 per minute, if you divide 60K by 2080 standard work hours per year, without interruptions). Let’s hope it all works out for the best because we do want GM to pay back all that bail out money.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @highdesertcat….Having chased an assembly line at 70 jobs per hour, I can assure you that 28 jph gives you approx. two minutes to perform your job assignment.

        With all due respect, you might want to check your math.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mikey, one of the things I do is Time & Motion studies and the formula I used is standard for all industries that produce goods on a line. Even Henry Ford calculated his first assembly line this way.

        What I am saying here is that a completed Volt has to be produced every two minutes every work hour every work day every week every month all year around without fail in order to make 60K of them in a 2080-hour standard year.

        Considering that only 60% of any given time period is actually productive, we’re pushing the envelope here for only one line. That’s where overtime comes in. But that is not part of the standard calculation.

        If you know of a better, more accurate way to break down production output please feel free to educate me. You are absolutely right in that some lines run at 70 jph but that doesn’t mean that you actually have 70 completed units roll off the line every hour or that you can maintain that rate indefinitely, or that you achieve the desired output quality.

        But let’s not go there because it would just rile up all the Detroit bashers into recounting their experiences with Detroit Iron of the past that had parts falling off and fasteners missing.

        I am open to a better assessment if you are willing to offer it since you worked the line. I really am interested.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @highdesertcat..I spent 17 years working on a daily count “jph X eight” 60 jph =480 a shift.

        I spent the next 19 years working with “just in time”. The JIT formula was identical,only you had to calculate model mix,with JPH.

        Your statement “28 per hour,2 a minute” doesn’t jive.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mikey, thanks, I see now what you’re saying. I understand where you are coming from.

        But I’ll stick with my calculations based on the one-line, one shift formula. I am looking at it from the opposite end, which is the planned forecast (60K), divided by the time allotted (2080 hours) to achieve whole-unit (1 complete Volt ready to sell) production requirements.

        This model assumes an uninterrupted sub-component supply that’s been calculated by your method (without the mix) since only one type of Volt is produced, and it is assumed that all parts are ready for assembly.

        As a matter of interest, what was your finished-vehicle output per line per shift at the plants where you worked, and what was the projected output per line per shift?

        It would have been better if I had written one Volt produced every two minutes, I agree. But the actual calculation method, which I provided, was accurate and lifted from the Spring Hill anticipated-production guide when the plant was laid out, way back when. In any case, it would be quite a feat if GM can pull this off.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ We called it “count” JPH X 8. We ran “W” Chev at 66 JPH = 528 a shift on a three shift basis. In the real world we would get around 1575 a day. Anything less, with out a real good reason and the fit hit the shan.

        My last job involved calculating and feeding the truck plant, fenders,hoods floor pans,and third door sheet metal requirements. My boss double checked my counts,his boss double checked his counts.

        All of us were painfully aware of the ramifications of creating a truck plant shortage.

        I had the material managers personal cell phone memorized. My intructions were “check your counts,then check them again, if you even THINK we may have a shortage,call your superviser or call me 24/7.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Mikey, one of the guys from the plant in Alabama who spoke at the last NADA conference I attended said they do it a little differently now, although the methodology is still the same in principle.

        He said production was staged by projected sales and orders placed and that set the supply chain in motion. But actual production remained a crap-shoot because the floor managers were focused on a very high standard of quality with minimum diverts to a holding area for adjustments.

        So, when they first started rolling for real production the newly empowered employees halted the line on numerous occasions at several stages because of omissions or errors in assembly. That sent the JPH into the toilet. At least for awhile.

        I’m sure that as the single shift of the Volt becomes more proficient, production will be humming along. But one Volt rolling off the line roughly every two minutes, every hour of every shift of every day?

        I find it hard to accept that any crew can maintain that effort for any length of time without swap-out replacements. People are not robots.

        What do you think?

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- 28 jobs per hour is 1 car every 2.14 minutes, not two per minute.

        Back in the day, the Oldsmobile main plant in Lansing, for many years the largest output car assembly plant in America, cranked out 95 jobs an hour! We built Cutlass, 88 & 98 on the same line. Later, a dedictated Cutlass plant was built, eventually to pe converted to N car production. Each line produced 60 jobs an hour, which seems to be somewhat of a sweet spot for high volume car assembly lines. The Toronado plant produced 20 jobs an hour. Rather than a moving line, it indexed to the next work station every 3 minutes.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds, thanks, I acknowledged that I had screwed up when Mikey pointed that out to me and I replied that it would have been better if I had written one Volt every two minutes.

        Mea culpa, because I NEVER read my copy before I post. I type what I think at that moment and then look for typos. Once cleared of dreaded red-underlines I hit submit.

        It’s different when I write something that has impact, like a White Paper or Market Appraisal. That’s when I read and re-read. But because I do so much reading on ttac and other venues I don’t take the time to properly construct my comments. I’m always surprised that anyone even reads my comments.

        As one ttac commenter pointed out in his criticisms of my comments, my comments are rife with personal anecdotes… etc. And he’s right. I should have carefully read my comments about the jph for the Volt.

        But even my time reading ttac is being reduced now since I was drafted and have a new gig effective Oct 01 that requires me to travel to sit on a board up to three days a week in Texas. No rental car evaluations either since a limo picks me up at the airports.

        I thought that when my wife retired last month we would have more time to ourselves but so far we have spent even less time together. Things seem to get crazier for us the older we get. Beats being a couch potato, though.

        And I continue to be pro-choice when it comes to cars in the market place. I think the Volt should be there for those who want to buy it. I also hope that it will be a success for GM so that GM can pay back them bail-out bucks. That could just be wishing and hoping on my part…..

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- I didn’t mean to pile on!

        Unfortunately, General Motors Corp. is history, dead.

        I would dearly love to see taxpayer’s recover every dime. Taxpayer return is now solely based on the selling price of Treasury’s remaining 500,000 shares in the new business,GM Co. There was a time when it looked like the stock might approach the $53/share necessary to make taxpayers whole, but it closed at $22 on Friday, barely more than half of its post IPO high of $38 or so. I continue to believe that the stock is very undervalued. The Co. did make $5.7B in the first half! Akerson’s goal of $10B net is not out of the realm of possibility, though a second dip into recession will make that difficult.

      • 0 avatar

        New GM is dead too, it’s just going to take a while for them to burn through all that cash.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds & Buickman, I’m afraid that both of you guys are spot on! But I am the guy who’s all about choice for the consumer. I mean the more choice we have, the merrier. GM’s new spiraling decline toward the dustbin of history saddens me.

        But I am optimistic about GM having some time now to sell itself or parts of itself to JVs in China, India, Korea, Australia, Russia, Brazil, or any other country that will take them.

        The Volt is a great idea. It just hasn’t caught on yet, and it may never catch on as long as oil is plentiful. I’m not pro-Volt, I am pro-choice about having Volt in the market place for those who want to buy one. I would not be a good candidate for anything EV or Hybrid. For me it is gasoline all the way, all the time, the bigger, the better. If Tundra made a 7.4-liter all aluminum DOHC 32-valve V8, I’d buy it!

        I have brothers who sell Buick and GMC in Arizona and their customer base is not only shrinking, it is also dying off. Rapidly, I might add. I see an excellent opportunity here for GM to blend GMC into the Chevrolet Division and sell off Buick to China where it is enjoying good sales and popularity.

        I would like to see GM have only two divisions, Chevrolet and Cadillac and whatever product mix that sells and makes money for them.

        And let’s say that GM is actually able to squirt out those 60K Volt cars next year and sell them all to an eager public. That still won’t do diddly squat for GM’s bottom line. And that, my friends, is what worries the supporting financial pillars of the US auto industry the most.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- How can Buickman & I both be spot on?
        I wrote that the OLD GM Corporation is history, but
        NEW GM is doing very, very well.
        He says, in denial of all the facts, that NEW GM will die.

        GM has grown from 19% of the US market last year to 20.1% this year through Sept.
        Second place Ford was almost flat- 16% last year and 16.1% this year.
        GM is #1 Globally, #1 in US & China, and is growing fast in the hot BRIC markets.
        Most significantly, GM made $5.7B in just the first half of ’11.
        Just the opposite of Buickman’s notion, they are piling up cash with nearly $40B generated from business operations, NOT from taxpayers, while debt is heading toward zero.

        Your brother’s perspective notwithstanding, Buick is one of the fastest growing brands in the U.S. and GMC is also rebounding very well. As new products are rolled out, Verano, Granite,their growth is likely to accelerate. These premium brands are great profit generators for GM.

        GM does agree with you to some extent, in the context that they plan Chevrolet and Cadillac to be the Global brands, while other brands are regionally specific.

        Anyone who sees Volt as GM’s salvation in the context financial impact has not been paying attention. The car is not about generating profits so much as changing GM’s image. The expected 2012 production of 60,000 represents roughly 2-3% of GM’s U.S. sales. It is mostly plus business, at that.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds, here’s how I see it, and here is how I think that both of you are right:

        I agree with you that the OLD GM is dead. No contest there.

        I also agree with Buickman that the new GM, in spite of all its ‘profits’ today, isn’t making enough money to stand on its own without the tax payer bail out money, special tax advantages and tax accommodations, now, and for the next decade.

        There’s only so much sanity to keeping the UAW working at taxpayers’ expense. Better to off-shore production to Mexico and make some real money while at the same time improving quality.

        We all know about the optimistic predictions of the GM-fans about how GM would rebound once it had shed all its nasty liabilities and how the new stock would go higher after the IPO, but none of that happened. It doesn’t matter what the reasons were, it didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen and it will never happen.

        The reason for it never happening is that GM needs to change a lot more than it has to be on par, or at least competitive, with all the other manufacturers in the global market place. They may sell a lot of cars, but so do other manufacturers.

        GM can sell a ton of cars and still not make real money to get ahead on for the future. The Volt may be indicative of ‘change’ at GM but at $40K+ a whack that change is going to pass by a lot of people who will turn to other ‘foreign’ brands for their affordable transportation.

        An excellent example is the company formerly known as Chrysler. A prudent example of a resurgence that is based on Fiat doing the thinking for them now and managing the purse strings.

        Ford is another manufacturer that is doing extremely well, even without a product like the Volt. I believe that to be due to the competent leadership of one Alan Mulally and the identification that the markets are not attracted to highly advanced products like the Volt. Hybrids yes! Gas-generator EVs, not yet.

        I would like nothing more than to have the sales of the Volt prove me wrong, but I don’t see that happening for at least five years yet.

        And GM as we know it doesn’t have five years. Within three years GM will be ready for another hand out, and within five years, unless drastic additional changes are made, GM will be a shadow of its former self. Pretty much in line with what Buickman wrote about burning through cash. GM is a prime example of a manufacturer selling a lot of product and not making any real money at it.

        Now, we can differ on that. But in the end time will prove one of us right. Just remember all those optimists in 2007 and 2008 who said that GM would NEVER go belly up. GM went belly up. No contest there either.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- Meaning no disrespect, you notion that GM will need another bailout in a few years flys in the face of all the facts.
        The new company was provided about $10B in operating cash after bankruptcy and has grown that to $40B in two year. Far from burning thru cash, they are building fast, and have not gotten another dime from governement. Their debt is rapidly approaching zero, down to $4B now.
        Ford’s market share was nearly flat at 16.6% vs 16.5% last year, while GM grew from 19% to 20.1%. That is not a trivial market share, about half the size of VW’s total, and that is with a shortage of new products.
        I am amazed that anyone would characterize $5.7B in profit in the first half of ’11 as inadequate! Ford barely beat that all last year and VW, the most profitably car company ever, netted only a bit over double that all last year.
        GM’s credit rating was uprated, while Ford is still being considered, while Ford stock is down almost exactly the same % as GM since the IPO.
        There is no fact that supports the idea that GM is not on the rebound and is not solidly profitable at today’s volumes. If we see even modest recovery in NA, GM profits will soar to record levels.
        I suppose these facts won’t change you opinion, but they certainly are real.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds, it is perfectly normal to have two opposing points of view and I sure hope you do not misunderstand my hopes. My hopes are that GM will indeed make a comeback that results in the taxpayers getting all their bailout money back, with interest. In all reality, I don’t see that happening and I would be astonished if you think that will ever happen.

        Your facts are accurate. There is no question about that. But that is the problem with facts. They are a snapshot in time based on some past events. Facts are not indicative of future success nor of failure. Facts have to be considered in the realm where they reside. They are history. In the case of GM the facts that mattered are in the dust bin of history along with the declaration of GM’s bankruptcy.

        What is more indicative of future success is where the money goes. Like electricity, money follows the path of least resistance and eventually finds its own level, like water.

        There is a lot of money on the sidelines right now and if those holding the idle money were optimistic about GM’s future success, then now is the time to pick up the GM stock at bargain basement prices. I just don’t see that happening. I held GM stock up until 2007. Made money too. Got out in time, thanks to my broker.

        Perception is probably 90% of the game. Only GM fans are truly enthused about the future prospects of GM. The Volt is a great idea before its time. But time is not on GM’s side.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- “I may not agree, but I will fight to the death for your right to express your opinion!” (to paraphrase)
        re: selling GM, Good for you! I sold most of my GM stock years ago, unlike a friend, who lost 1/3 of his 401k in 2008. I did not foresee the GFC when I bought 1,000 GM stock at $10, bailed out soon after at $1.64.
        My words make it obvious I am a booster. I do see these facts as support for some optimism.
        I do not understand why you keep saying time is not on GM’s side? They have had continuous profitable quarters and market share growth. With that uptrend, why?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds: Thanks, dude. I knew you were alright.

        The uncertainty I expressed about GM having time as an ally is based on the shakeout the global auto market is experiencing and the shaky economic outlook for the US and developed Western nations. Too many variables there. Not too many are optimistic about 2012.

        In the US alone there are currently too many uncertain economic drivers that have a direct effect and an indirect affect on all auto manufacturers.

        The direct effects are immediate new-sales while the indirect effects are deferred new-sales aka pent-up demand. Those are just TWO effects but there are several more, plus there are repercussions throughout the economy based on just these two I mentioned (mom&pops, suppliers, etc). It is not my intention to lecture or educate, let’s assume that these factors do exist.

        Analysts who are employed to monitor existing economic conditions and forecast future financial achievements and goals generally hold that the housing market and the unemployment situation in the US hold sway over the demand for NEW cars.

        The political aspects currently are such that businesses and corporations feel that America’s tax policy does not incentivize them to expand or invest in America.

        So while we may see small increases in auto sales in the US, the buyers tend to be the affluent, those with secure employment and those living on fixed incomes with enough disposable income left over to buy new. These small increases in sales are not enough to prop up GM to its former eminent stature, free of taxpayer bail out bucks.

        Ford has a much better chance of making it on its own as long as Mulally is there. Once Mulally retires, it’ll be pretty much all she wrote for Ford. It’ll be regression to what once was.

        Chrysler is no longer our concern. They may employ many Americans in the US but they are no different that Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Mercedes, BMW et al.

        In short, any upheaval in the status quo, or increase in the unemployment rate, or increase in home-foreclosures is going to negatively impact new car sales, and GM is least able to deflect that and survive (without more major changes and size reductions to lower its operating expenses).

        In a nutshell, that’s the way I see. Way too oversimplified, I know since some of my written evaluations number in excess of 300 pages, plus foot notes, subparagraphs and addendae.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat-I agree with your logic, and might agree with your conclusions but for a few facts.
        -New GM is very much smaller in America. The bad old days overhead gone (like the politics or not).
        -New GM is in much, much better shape to weather a downturn than Ford, others, with a lot more cash and a tiny fraction of the debt(like the politics or not).
        wrt- Ford: I have no beef with Mullally, but can assure you from many years of experience in (for a lot of it, at least) the largest industrial corporation in the history of the world, a CEO can’t just will immediate change in a huge organization such as Ford. Their rebound is founded primarily on the same elements as GMNA, the VEBA and other provisions of the 2007 UAW contract.
        No doubt, there is money on the sidelines, and there is also a new reality for the U.S. auto industry. They are making money now at levels which are still very depressed. Cars have finite life, the population is increasing and car sales are bucking the general economic trend because of it.
        -Most significantly, with over half of GM sales coming from outside the U.S. and strong share in the fastest growing markets of the world, the importance of the U.S. market has declined, though it is by far the richest.
        Ultimately, only time will tell. I appreciate the rational dialog!

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds, you should hear some of that rational discussion in the board room where grown adults are discussing the financing topic du jour at the top of their lungs.

        You and I only have two differing views. When it comes to commercial loan applications to floorplan dealerships differing views abound. And I might add that not all GM dealers are doing as well as the ‘facts’ would lead you to believe.

        Were it not for foreign brands sold alongside GM brands, some dealerships would not break even. You’re right. Time will tell.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @highdesertcat- I know a lot of dealers are hurting! Living outside of Pontiac, MI, my favorite Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealer lost the brand that had comprised 60% of his business, on top of the 40% drop of the US market overall. That is why GM tried to shed some, so the rest would have a chance.
        I have an idea of the discusssions you mention! Often in the middle of high level meetings around issues ranging from the multi-$millions to well over $100M, there were some very intense conversations! I once had a request from a Chief Engineer to participate in a meeting with several VP’s and other Senior Execs. I questioned whether that would be appropriate. Some called them “Elephants” to us “mice”! “Be careful, or they will step on you. If only by accident, you will still be dead!”
        He said, “You are the voice of calm and reason.” I took that as a real compliment, a benefit of approaching retirement age!

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Dr Olds, I can believe that! Emotions often run high when there is a set-piece of beliefs involved that is not shared by all. Or that is obscured by real-world situations, interpretations and perceptions.

        While my brothers are all exiting their chosen careers as new-car retailers and are in the process of selling their holdings, the wait now is on state and local approvals.

        One of their partners is an attorney who sits on the board of directors of a Bank that finances mainly auto dealerships and new-car retailers (all over the US). That’s how I got drafted – because I had been providing written advice to my brothers and their partners for their strategies while competing in the new-car retail business.

        The only reason I bring this up is to tell you that we now have THREE different views of the industry: Yours, which is top-down, Mine, which is bottom-up, and theirs (the bank) which is industry-wide (lateral).

        And that’s where the shouting comes in during the meetings because when you look at the wider picture what you see is entirely different than either top-down or bottom-up. You see risk. And how you manage that risk is potentially how you maximize your investment or loans.

    • 0 avatar

      DoctorOlds,

      an alcoholic can win the lottery and be sitting on a pile of cash. that doesn’t mean he’s recovered and will, most likely, end up back on the street broke as a joke. similarly, GM’s miserable marketing hasn’t changed and in spite of the bailout handing them billions and wiping out the debt, the lack of talent and pompous self righteous, know it all, smarter than anyone attitude will be their undoing once again. you can quote all the stats you want but it won’t change the future. GM will go belly up or be broken up due to the ineptitude and corruption. call me crazy, they did last time I predicted it too.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Buickman- I do call you crazy, and a Johnny one note, too. I understand you are disgruntled with GM declining your offer to lead their marketing staff and your pride in selling lots of Buicks to GM employees in Buick City (Flint). A little like shooting fish in a barrel, don’t you think?

        GM generated at least $30B of their $40B in cash since bankruptcy, and they continue to generate more. It didn’t come from any lottery, but business success.

        btw- How do you explain GM’s market share gain this year and their $5.7B profit while doing so?

    • 0 avatar

      I never had any desire to lead their marketing staff and my sales of Buicks was nationwide. your source of information is not reliable as it pertains to me.

      as for one note, I also called for separation of CEO/Chairman, switching audit firms in light of Deloitte’s failures, and multiple other rational management moves that would benefit GM company wide.

      explaining GM’s minimal and temporary market share gain is easy. can you say tsunami? with the increased production coming now from Japan and the newly opening transplant facilities, you will see the slide at GM begin again. watch.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Buickman-My sources were your words, your website, and a former customer of yours. I apologize for my taking the “call me crazy” bait. It was neither germaine, nor appropriate.

        I’ve said, I agree with a lot of your suggestions, though they all seem to be founded in 2005.

        I am baffled though, with a new from the outside CEO, 1/3 of all executive leadership purged since bankruptcy, particularly at the top, and former Hyundai marketing people in charge, you see no change in the character of the leadership or their marketing.

        With 3/4 of the year gone,you have got to be kidding (or..)about a 1.1 point market share being minimal! It is half the size of the entire share’s of a Mazda, Subaru, VW, Daimler,.. !

        No doubt, you are right that the Tsunami helped GM. On the other hand, they and Chrysler, also up 1.1, scooped up the lost Japanese share.
        Ford, the politically beloved, didn’t get much of it. They gained 0.1 point.

        How do you explain these hard facts?
        Do you think the record $5.7B first half profit is not real?

      • 0 avatar

        Dear Doc,

        most every leading industry expert agrees with my marketing/management principles regarding GM. the truth is constant whether grounded in 2005 or 1935, it doesn’t change.

        in “Overhaul” Rattner details his finding of fault at GM to be best characterized by the attitudes and actions of John Smith. I found the same to be true. he exemplified the unwarranted pompous arrogance and lack of any real ability that was so prevalent at GM. unfortunately the same remains to a large degree. I guarantee you that if you were to read my plans in detail you would agree that solid and lasting market share gains are not only possible, but are there for the taking. the biggest obstacles are inside the building. Ewanick is no different. he came from outside, but is just as worthless as those he replaced.

        while it’s true that 1.1% share gain is nice, it’s not from any strategic planning or innovation within GM. that is why I discount it’s relevance and claim it to be temporary.

        the YTD profit is undoubtedly real. my problem is how it is based on screwing 20,000 Delphi reitrees out of their pension and hiring second tier workers at poverty wages, thereby causing untold angst among the workforce. again, bad management IMO.

        if GM were to implement Return to Greatness the stock would hit 50 within a year and retail market share would soar to 25, and in a stable fashion.

        that is all.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Buickman,as a recent GM retiree with Delphi friends and family I appreciate you emotion, and see that it is the basis for your views. As a factual matter, though, Delphi was spun off and went bankrupt on its own, well before the tsunami of the Financial Crisis swamped the industry and forcing GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

        Folks are lined up to hire-in for the Tier 2 wages, which reportedly will rise to nearly $20/hour for straight time. No Tier 1 worker has been forced to move to Tier 2 as GM offers voluntary buyouts to meet their labor cost goals.

        No innovation? Cruze Eco, with all new turbo 1.4L achieves top fuel economy and good driveability in a car that is an unqualified market success. Equinox, Terrain, Camaro,and Regal are some more good examples, and the new product pipeline is just going to start to flow with the new Malibu.

      • 0 avatar

        when I speak of innovation I am not referring to product. certainly the Volt is innovative, tho not profitable and therefore worthless. I am referring to marketing. that is the area in which I am an expert. in fact, arguably the best there is. I will share with you the latest segment of “Return to Greatness” called “Extra Mile” if you provide me with an email address. then tell me what you think and whether I am living in the past or “shooting fish in a barrell”.

        buickman@generalwatch.com

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Buickman- Your ideas look fine to me, though I don’t claim to be an expert marketer. GM did offer free service for Pontiac owners, though not that much.

      • 0 avatar

        there’s so much more where this came from. again call me crazy but this business isn’t difficult. in the words of my old buddy Jerry Flint “all it takes is a good car and someone who knows how to sell them”.

        btw the free stuff to Pontiac owners wasn’t based upon these concepts that bring prospective clients in, puts theirs in the air and them out on a test drive (required to get the free service), while costing the manufacturer virtually nothing.

        like the book “Your Marketing Sucks” claims…if your marketing dollars don’t bring you back more than you spent, they failed.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Buickman, read up on Jerry Della Femina. I met him a long time ago and he wouldn’t know me from Adam, but I was as impressed with him then as I have been by his knowledge of advertising and marketing over the ensuing years. People man. Knows people. Knows what makes people tick. Knows what motivates people to buy.

        It wouldn’t hurt GM to contract this guy for a media blitz to promote the Volt and maybe get enough justification for a second shift at the plant. Well, that is if GM can afford him, and if he is predisposed to do it, of course.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Are they planning to mandate owning hybrid cars like the Volt somewhere to eat this many units? If so, I’ll take the Nissan Leaf or upcoming PHEV Prius instead. Lot cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I went from southwest Austin out to Snow’s BBQ this morning, and back, in my Volt.

      I couldn’t do that in a Leaf. At least, not on the same day.

      (It did do a number on my lifetime efficiency though, it’ll be another few weeks of electric-only commutes to get it back above 250+ MPG)

  • avatar

    no problem for GM’s vaunted marketing staff and their powerful rebates, coupons, certificates, vouchers, dealer cash, stair stepped bonuses, Sudoku lease algorithms, and the ever famous Red Toe Tag Sales. for further information visit the website (tho it’s frozen and inoperative half of the time).

  • avatar
    eldard

    They (over)priced it to try to attract the iphone crowd probably. And failed. Miserably.

    Why get this turd when for a few grand more I can get a glorious E-klasse?

  • avatar
    OhMyGoat

    Saw what I think was my first Volt on the road today. Oh wait, it was a PG&E (local utility co.) company vehicle…

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Are you saying you saw a Chevrolet Volt and it was decked out as a PG&E fleet vehicle?

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Never mind. Google’s my buddy… this undated article:

        http://www.pge.com/about/environment/pge/fleets/

        reveals that PG&E has 20 Volts. This is not too surprising, of course, electric companies have always bought EVs whenever something remotely kinda-sorta decent became available.

  • avatar
    Herm

    What is the accepted method to determine if a car is a failure?

    Cash on the hood levels?, days at the dealership? or how long it takes to actually get one?.. we should settle the answer now so we can use it in a few months to know for sure if the Volt has failed or not.. its not time yet since you cant pick one up today (for most people) at the dealership at MSRP

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      What is the accepted method to determine if a hyped up halo car is a failure in attracting much needed capital for the company?

      Fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      CamaroKid

      I agree, this web site used to be “the TRUTH about cars” now its just the political bent about cars. Again Edward, did you do ANY reporting? did you call ANY dealers? how many of this “demand limited” over supply cars can you buy right now? The TRUTH about this little car is that there is over a 6 month waiting list to get one.

      The TRUTH about this car is that GM management underestimated the demand for this car and DID NOT procure enough battery production for it. THAT is the story. It has nothing to do with the $7500 tax credit that Bush signed into law in 2007, it had nothing to do with the Bush target of reducing foreign oil by 20% in 10 years. I has nothing to do with the out of thin air Obama targets.

      It has EVERYTHING to do with battery production.

      The truth about this car is that they are all pre-sold and the average “days on the lot” of one of these cars (that isn’t one of those 3 thousand or so demo units) is the time it takes the dealer to wash, prep, charge and plate the thing.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        So you’re saying GM still can’t make proper management decisions? That figures. They are, after all, the only company that held the title as the world’s largest industrial corporation for 70 years and descending into a humiliating bankruptcy 2-3 years after losing said title.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        CamaroKid,

        Those are nice mantras for the GM Faithful but there’s no concrete evidence that any of them are true. It does take a while to obtain a Volt that you ORDER but this is often enough due to GM’s “allocation” process and the fact that, truly, they are not building very many.

        But the entire rollout process smacks of damage control. Rather than take orders with deposits, as has been done for the Leaf and the Prius before it, and simply ship Volts to customers in FIFO order, GM is holding the car hostage to the allocation process, requiring dealers to buy demos and generally obfuscating the entire Volt sales picture.

        Monday, GM said there were 884 Volts “available for sale,” which is another suggestive number. Why isn’t it zero, if every Volt is spoken for?

        The conventional wisdom at the Chief Volt FanBoy site, GM-Volt.com (a site that is openly hostile to rational thought about EVs in general and the Volt in particular) is that there’s about a month of Volts in the transportation pipeline. However, on that same web site, Rob Peterson was quoted as saying there’s only a 14 day lag from build to dealer. If you do your sums, there’s quite a few Volts produced and not so much evidence of Volt demand.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Eldard,

        Yep. IMHO, improper management decisions started with top-down design and the go-ahead to build a $40K compact car with just 4 seats and limited cargo space. They built a vehicle that could only appeal to the well-heeled segment of hard-core EV supporters. Not a very big customer pool.

        I’d be willing to buy an EV as a transportation solution and I probably have an EV preference myself but I’m not willing to buy something that’s completely uncompetitive.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        It does take a while to obtain a Volt that you ORDER but this is often enough due to GM’s “allocation” process and the fact that, truly, they are not building very many.

        Let’s be fair. The waiting list supposedly includes thousands of people. The roll out has been staged (and obviously limited), so I would imagine that many of those who are on the waiting lists have not been offered any inventory to buy.

        In my view, there has been far too little production to determine whether demand will be reasonable. That being said, I suspect that this car was meant to be more of a PR exercise than anything else, so GM is probably not very serious about it, either.

        I have my doubts that there are many GM senior managers who think that Volt sales are going make much difference for the bottom line, either way. Its best use is as a halo car that can sell Cruzes and Malibus, not as a bona fide margin producer. If the Volt demo story is accurate, then that would explain it — GM would want these things parked in showrooms next to the other cars that could actually make them money.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Pch101,

        I have some difficulty believing that people who want an economical car (family sedan, compact, whatever), come in to Chevy to check out the $40K Volt and then, seeing they can’t have one immediately, decide, “Hey, let’s pick up a Cruze as long as we’re here!”

        The Cruze, as near as I can tell, sells itself. The team that delivered it deserves some credit for this.

        I also have some difficulty believing peoplw who want an EV and know about the $40K Volt (which is ALL of the die-hard EV fanatics out there) come in, look at the Volt, find they can’t have it immediately and decide, “Hey, let’s pick up a Cruze as long as we’re here!”

        And GM still makes lots of money on their big honkers, the 2.5 ton crossovers and bigger. You know the target market for those things isn’t going to come in to a Chevy showroom to look at some (as they would likely put it) sissy, overpriced Obama-mobile that can’t tow anything and only holds 4 people and a couple of teacup poodles.

        The halo effect on this car is extremely limited. Toyota and Honda have gone a long way without much in the way of halo cars.

        If the demand for this car is there, the way for GM to make a success of this car is to BUILD LOTS OF THEM AND SELL THEM TO WHOEVER WANTS THEM and GM isn’t doing that. Do they fear demand is weak? Are they losing money on each one? Who knows?

        And I don’t know. But I suspect demand is weak and I suspect they are not selling as fast as GM would like us to believe.

        If the Volt had come out as El Lutzbo first envisioned it, with 50 miles of range, good range-extended fuel economy and a moderate price tag, I’d be interested in it. But it’s nowhere near the price it needs to be for what the general population expects.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The halo effect on this car is extremely limited.

        That may or may not be true. But the issue isn’t what your opinion is, but what GM’s agenda may be.

        Again, I suspect that this car was originally meant to be a PR exercise. (Lutz claims that it was motivated by Tesla; my guess is that it was really about the Prius — God forbid that GM ever give Toyota any credit for anything — and a response to the film Who Killed the Electric Car?)

        But then the Volt took on a life of its own as a partial justification for the bailout. That forced GM to take it to the next level and actually mass produce it.

        That doesn’t mean GM wants to make a real go of it. But now that they’re stuck with the task of building them, they may as well use the Volt as a halo. They’ll never recover the R&D costs, but to the extent that that the Volt helped them to clinch the bailout funds, it has already paid for itself.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @Elderd- First year for Prius, Toyota only produced 8,500.
        GM has sold 8,600 of the planned first years production of 10,000 and are encouraging dealers to keep one to demo.

        Volt is much more complex and innovative than Prius and low first year volume was the prudent and correct management decision to get experience in the field before ramping up production.

        If they do not manage to sell them once the production volume goes up, you can criticize the car as unsuccessful. Until then, such as claim is pure hogwash, despite this site’s name.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        CamaroKid and Dr. Olds,

        Ed’s article is 100% fact. Whining about whether or not the site is the “Truth” about cars is foolish.

        Now, Ed doesn’t have much control over the people who post comments and there may be some feedback in the comments to the effect that the Volt is rapidly approaching Edsel-dom but there are good reasons for suspecting this.

        The fact of the matter is, after 10 months, with production running significantly ahead of sales every month except the shutdown month, and unsold inventory of some kind (dealer demos or, maybe doorstops) rising nearly steadily and, lately, dramaticaly, the Volt sold a paltry 723 units in September.

        If you don’t like this, you should criticize GM for rollout plans that must have hampered sales.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Another side effect of GM’s awkward rollout:

        http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/over-g-m-s-objections-dealers-sell-used-chevy-volts-without-7500-tax-credit/?ref=automobiles

        If GM would take orders with deposits from people and route the cars to whoever ordered them, first-come, first-served, there’d be less dealer shenanigans.

      • 0 avatar
        CamaroKid

        KixStart,

        How can Edwards article be 100% correct when even you are willing to concede that “It does take a while to obtain a Volt that you ORDER but this is often enough due to GM’s “allocation” process and the fact that, truly, they are not building very many.” ?

        You can’t say that there is ample supply as Edward has blogged (erroneously) on several occasions and then admit that there are over 3000 cars out there that are contractually “NOT for sale” or post that It takes months and months for GM to deliver an ordered car because GM isn’t making enough. That IS my point.

        I’m more than happy to admit that GM screwed up the roll-out of this car… That wouldn’t be a shocker since GM has screwed up the roll-out of every new car since Nixon was a VP. It is VERY clear that GM management FAILED to buy enough batteries to build the cars. It is clear that GM is not building enough to meet the demand. It is clear that the way that GM is taking orders for this car is brain dead and is causing all kinds of dealer insanity. It is clear that launching the car in limited market areas with national marketing campaigns was also REALLY stupid and a total waste of time and money.

        Right now GM has basically over 90% of the plugin hybrid market-share, they should be banging this thing out faster than Charlie Sheen uses condoms. Again the truth is that GM management screwed up not only the launch and marketing of this car, but they also screwed up the production (and by GM management, I mean “Lutz”) This was his project and is his baby.

        Good luck getting anyone in GM to admit to that mistake. The last time GM openly and freely admitted to a mistake Orville and Wilbur were making bicycles. But that mistake aside, that doesn’t mean that we can make up crap that these cars are all siting on dealers lots unable to find owners. That is not at all true. Even you know this. It is not at all hard to prove. Anyone can do it with 4 or 5 phone calls. Its sad that a website with such a noble name and history would resort to what is at best, political spin.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Where, in the above article, did Ed say that supply was outstripping demand? You are whining about something that did not get written. At least not by Ed.

        From GM’s own figures and spokespersons, as of September 1,

        Produced: 9887
        Sold: -4220
        Transit: -1280 (est – 2 weeks of production, per R. Peterson)
        ————–
        Unsold: 4387

        On Sept 1, GM said that they had placed 2200 demos. That leaves 2K vehicles… where? They exist and they have made it to dealers but they’re not sold.

        Further, GM is already resorting to fleet sales. NYC took 50. PG&E has 20. The GSA has apparently purchased 101 (news article from May). We can expect that other electric companies have purchased Volts, too (it’s what electric companies do). What do you suppose the total is? GM is selling into these fleets when they allegedly have customer orders and deposits in hand?

      • 0 avatar
        CamaroKid

        Are you reading the same article… Or just parts of it?

        What do you think this means,
        “Think 60,000 units is still more Volt than America will buy? Well, you’re right so far,”

        Click the link and you will find Edward opine that,
        “from here on out, the “supply constrained” argument won’t fly”

        Edward has convinced himself that there is LOTS of supply of this car… That simply is NOT true, even you agree with that when you said,
        “they are not building very many”

        Are the wait lists made up? If there are so many to buy why are most dealers wait listing this car?

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        @ doctor olds: When the Prius came out, that was in the 90s. When gas was cheap and climate change was still global warming.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        CamaroKid,

        “From here on out” is a prognostication, true, but it isn’t in this article and GM itself says they’ve filled up the demo requirements, so it’s a solid prognostication.

        And what part of “2K vehicles… where?” confuses you? There is supply on dealer asphalt that didn’t get bought.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        There is supply on dealer asphalt that didn’t get bought.

        There are about 3,000 Chevy dealerships. Based upon your figures, the unsold inventory amounts to about one car per dealership.

        I think that you’re jumping the gun here. I personally don’t have high expectations for the Volt, but there aren’t yet enough facts in to judge.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Not all Chevy dealerships will be selling the Volt and there are 2200 demos already in place, these cars are outside of that.

        I disagree with you on when it’s OK to call this a failure. When the $40K price, 4 seats and 37mpg were revealed, that looked like a good time to me.

        What’s this car supposed to do? According to Lutz, it was to “leapfrog” Toyota. It has EV range that the Prius lacks (but could easily and will soon have). It falls behind by most other measures, except price where it, uh…, excels. There’s not much leap involved. Poor sales would be one more way in which it most certainly does not leapfrog Toyota.

        Look at this from Toyota’s perspective… do you think they couldn’t build a Volt-like vehicle, if they wanted to? Why do you suppose they didn’t? Because it wouldn’t sell? Because, given the price and bulk of the batteries, the car would be seriously compromised in many ways?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I disagree with you on when it’s OK to call this a failure. When the $40K price, 4 seats and 37mpg were revealed, that looked like a good time to me.

        Don’t be a reverse fanboy. Rather than waiting for facts and assessing them, you’ve instead started with a theory and are selectively choosing and ignoring facts in order to match your theory.

        The car is new. Production, inventories and distribution have all been minimal. In a year, you’ll know soon enough whether or not it’s a bust. Personally, I have low expectations (and I suspect that GM does, too), but it’s a bit soon to judge.

  • avatar
    inamishland

    Does anyone know how the Congressional super committee installing the budget cuts views the Volts $7500 tax rebate? By Nov 2 this group of 13 could reshape the government spending overnight, yet nothing is being reported on how the coming cuts are being decided or how much each industry’s lobby is willing to pay to play.
    I would say the Volt’s rebate is fair game for getting killed as dropping this tax rebate affects the smallest number of voters, people actually buying the volt, and the big boys (Defense, Medicare, and Social Security) have their lobbies out in full force pointing at other more voter friendly cuts. There is the government motor stigma and the Tea Party could jump on the $7500 rebate as bad government. Should GM know they are losing the war to keep this rebate, they sure as hell will not add a second shift and would be smart to switch the plant to the Malibu ASAP as without the rebate the volt is fried.

  • avatar

    the Volt is a disaster, GM management is beyond pitiful, and the banks are still in control. buy Ford stock if you feel the need to be in the auto sector.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I wish I had something to add here, but I just have this: FASCINATING!

    I, and probably many others truly enjoy these debates/exchanges, as those of us on the outside that have little or no auto industry experience learn much and gain insight into the various companies. I hope you (Doctor Olds and Buickman) continue to keep us informed.

    Thank you!

    • 0 avatar

      you’re most welcome, my pleasure. the good doctor is right in many ways and I used to share in his belief in GM but learned the hard way that efforts to contribute are futile as they have no clue, but think they do. shame really. kind of like Michael Jordan sitting on the bench.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      Thanks Zackman! I stumbled on this site, and feel like the lone voice in the wilderness wrt GM. I spent some years in the field sales staff at Oldsmobile and agree that Buickman is quite right in many of his criticisms. My last 20 years was in GM Powertrain Engineering, and it was a delight to deal with the rational leadership. Of course, good engineers always seek to let data tell them the truth, rather than trying to assemble data to support pre-conceived notions.

      • 0 avatar

        knowledge is one thing, divining wisdom from it another. the bottom line is exactly how are we going to sell more cars? hmmmm….just a minute….wait…hold on… okay, I know how.

        leadership is defining the goal, laying out the strategy, implementing the plans and finally, achievement. it’s not who sits in which office, or even who gets the credit. it’s results baby! RIP Al.


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