With all the attention being paid to Volt sales, production and turn time in the wake of recent congressional criticism, I thought I’d update our recent chart of Volt sales versus production to see how GM’s wonder car is doing a month on. As you can see, there’s not much obvious change on the year-to-date chart, with both sales and production trending upwards. But if we zoom in on the most recent months, we can see something strange happening…
This chart, showing production and deliveries since the Detroit-Hamtramck plant was retooled shows a softening of demand and a small but undeniable downturn in Volt production. Wondering why GM was trimming production of a car it says it will build 60k units of next year (including 45k units for the US market), I reached out to GM to ask about the cutback. A spokesman replied
Our 2011 target is 16000 units global production and we’re right on target. The dip in Volt production is made up by an increase in Ampera production for export.
In other words, Det-Ham isn’t making fewer Volts, they’re just building more of them with Opel badges for Europe. But what about anecdotal evidence showing that US demand for the Volt is weak? Where are the 6,000 or so Volts that have been produced but not sold this year? GM’s breakdown is as follows:
As of Oct 31 we had built roughly 10500 vehicles, sold 5000, shipped 2300 dealer demos, had over 1400 in-transit (includes roughly 300 demos) and about 1800 on dealer lots… nearly 85 percent of the 2,600 participating Volt dealers have only one or zero Volt’s in stock. Of the 1400 dealers currently with no stock, roughly half have received a Volt and sold it and half are waiting to receive their first unit.
So, 1,800 units are currently on 1,200 lots. Presumably the 1,400 in-transit” units are headed to the 1,400 lots that have no Volts for sale. And now, Automotive News [sub] reports that GM is now allowing dealers to sell demonstrator-model Volts, noting
The move will increase the number of Volts available for sale to 4,100, from 1,800… Another 1,100 units are in transit.
GM will reimburse dealers $1,500 to compensate for depreciation and for the cost of removing some decals from the demo models. Dealers must sell their demos by Jan. 3 to qualify for the payment
In other words, if demand is as strong as GM is claiming, there should be no problems selling 10k units this year. Production is rolling along and inventory is building (AN [sub] says it was at 83 days supply as of October 1); though still a long way from the volume needed to sell 45k units in the US next year, sales are still growing as well. Over the next few months supply should build to the point where Volt demand should become discernible. One downside to the demonstrator-sale strategy: dealers will be giving up what GM calls its strongest halo car, which The General says draws customers who end up leaving in a Cruze. In any case, we’re about to learn a lot more about the real level of demand for the Volt… for now, however, we’ll have to stay patient.