By on April 3, 2012

The Detroit-Hamtramck plant that builds the Chevrolet Volt will be shut down for three weeks instead of the standard two weeks this summer, and according to GM, that’s just business as usual. Even when it’s not.

According to the Detroit Free Press

“This is (a) normal part of business as managing to market demand,” GM spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said in an e-mail. Malcho confirmed that GM sold more than 2,000 Volts in March. Full sales figures will be released this morning.

Hmm. We’ve heard the whole “managing demand” thing before, in references to shutting down the plant. Let’s see how these sales figures pan out.

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27 Comments on “Detroit-Hamtramck Shutdown Extended, Chevrolet Volt Production Slowed Again...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    In the end, every vehicle’s production is ‘managed to market demand’, and those that don’t sell eventually stop production.

    2000 Volts in March is still only half of the original projection for 2012.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    What’s a little bit surprising to me is how restrained production was in March. Production hit 3.9K Volts and Amperas in February (and not a full February, IIRC) but March (a full month of production) was back into the 2.5K/month range.

    GM does not seem to be in any tearing hurry to fulfill the 7K Ampera pre-orders and certainly not to get extra Amperas on the shelves in Europe. I find that a little curious. Europe does have spendy gas and subsidies for the Volt besides. I would have thought that there was hope of significant sales.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      I find this peculiar, as well. The only explanation I can think if is that maybe even at the $59k price they’re selling them for in Europe (or however crazy-high that price is), it’s still being sold at a loss, and will be even if they sell 100k. GM doesn’t have much of a recent history of taking the long-term view on anything. If GM is losing money on them no matter how many are built/sold, then they’ll only open up the factory spigots enough to satisfy political needs. Ford has kind of done the same thing with the Escape Hybrid over the years (probably the Fusion Hybrid, too)…they limited production and didn’t push them very hard, and it’s easy to think that the reason was that they were sold at a loss the whole time. It seems only Toyota can currently sell real hybrid technology at a profit, but that’s because they spent years selling them at a loss first, and they had deeper pockets and a more long term view than GM has. American companies and the American public in general are much too short sighted and focused on immediate profits. The same people here who are hysterical about wanting to see the Volt fail will be the same people criticizing GM in 2 years for cancelling the Volt and not having a long-term view (if GM does shut it down and kill the electric car again).

  • avatar
    alluster

    “….but March (a full month of production) was back into the 2.5K/month range.”

    March was not a full month of production. The line was shut down starting March 19th for a total of 5 weeks. 2 weeks in March and 3 in April.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Derek – “We’ve heard the whole “managing demand” thing before, in references to shutting down the plant.”

    What is the issue, if sales are low, as they are in this case (up to February at least) then you cut supply. Otherwise they would, rightly, be criticized for producing too many and letting inventory pile up ala old GM.
    It should be recognized that they are attempting basic good business sense of actually trying to match supply and demand.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “What is the issue, if sales are low, as they are in this case (up to February at least) then you cut supply.”

      They’re supposedly attempting to sell a high-tech, lower-volume branded good, not a bushel of wheat or a crate of apples.

      For a product with that sort of market, the goal should be establish a reasonable goal for volume that allows the factory to operate, and then figure out how to sell the car in that volume to a niche market. If they aren’t capable of finding ways to do that, then either (a) GM has completely missed the mark with the product and/ or else (b) the marketing sucks.

      It’s a cop out to slow down production, pretending that the market has spoken when the market is barely aware of it. If they had any commitment to it, then they’d figure out how to create demand. If they can’t do that, then they should leave the sale of high-tech products to other companies that know how to sell them.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    I just hope they already built the President’s Volt before they permanently shut down production. I hate to see one of his promises go unfullfilled. LOL!

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Doesn’t “2000 sold” in GM-speak really mean we might have built 2000 and “shoved them into inventory”?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      We will see from the inventory figures of this is the case or if they were sold. They would be stupid (not unprecedented!) to just make 2000 and have much lower sales and pile them up.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Good point. Don’t forget that at the end of February there were 10,000 Volts languishing on dealer lots, so even at this sales pace that’s 5 months’ worth.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      2000 sold is 2000 sold to the public, not to dealers. Actual sales are 2289. While low, sales are up 267% YOY. The Volt has outsold almost half of all Toyota lineup. Sales are higher than the Scion iq, xd, xb, tc, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Sequoia, land cruiser, Lexus CT, HS, GS, LS, LFA, GX and LX. That’s 14 out of 30 Toyota/Lexus models the Volt has outsold. The Prius OTH outsold the Volt 10 to 1 or both Buick and Cadillac combined.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Here in car crazy LA, I’ve seen 3 of ‘em. None had dealer plates. They sold at least 3!

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Chevy overestimated demand on a model, and now they’re adjusting production so supply won’t get out of control.

    Sounds like business as usual to me.

    I prefer this course of action to continuing to pump out tens of thousands of Volts that will sit on lots.

    The Volts that have already been built will be sold eventually. It’s not like nobody will touch the Volt ever. It sells…it just sells much, much slower than expected/hyped/marketed.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    DATELINE JANUARY 2013
    “We never intended to measure the success of the Volt simply by raw sales alone. The technology and lessons learned from this exercise will help all the vehicles in the GM product line.”

  • avatar

    I’ve always said that you won’t be able to judge the Volt as a success or failure until the May ’12 monthly sales reports come in. 2289 cars in a month (yeah, I’m ignoring the adjusted part of SAAR) works out to 27468 a year.If gas stays expensive, I can see them getting to hailing range of 45K units annual by May or June.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      But can they sustain 45k rate with Ford, Honda, and others entering the market? It’s not a huge market. I’d also be surprised if the subsidy survives – it’s probably fairly high on the budget chopping block list.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        That is an interesting premise since the Volt is a niche car and most Americans have already identified it for what it is, a taxpayer-funded turkey. That’s why sales of the Volt are epic-low.

        Take a wider view and see where the Prius, Camry Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid fit into the overall picture and now add the Leaf and all the new EVs just entering the market.

        What I see is ever-increasing competition for the Volt which is not well-positioned in this niche because of its price and demographic.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Highdesertcat – I agree with you that it is a limited demographic, although that can grow as the Prius showed since it’s sales grew by an order of magnitude from launch to now.

        The Volt is now outselling the Leaf regularly (2012 data) so it is holding is own. Now when the plug-in Fusion, Accord etc come along then all these niche EV’s could have big problems.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    ‘These are not the Droids you are looking for…move along.’

  • avatar
    Richarbl

    I stand by my Volt/Edsel comments. This cannot end well for anyone, except for internet bloggers.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “The Volt is now outselling the Leaf regularly (2012 data) so it is holding is own”

    The Volt outsold the Leaf 4 to 1 in March. Conservatively, they’ll sell 20K in the US & 10K in Europe as the Ampera this year. Hardly a failure or a turkey. Of course those types of ignorant comments are always made by people who have never driven or spent time with a Volt. People in Canada are still begging for them.

    “Now when the plug-in Fusion, Accord etc come along then all these niche EV’s could have big problems.”

    I doubt that. I can make any plug-in gas hybrid like the Fusion or PIP burn gas before I reach the end of my block by simply pushing down too hard on the accelerator. There is still nothing else like the Volt available. BMW is making their own Volt, having hired a former GM employee who worked on the Volt project. That’s the closest thing I know of.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      There must be a majority of ignorant people in the world because they continue to choose an ICE vehicle over the Volt and its ilk.

      These are niche cars, and even the infinitely successful Prius line of vehicles will only attract a small minority of the driving public. This planet won’t run out of fossil fuels for hundreds of years yet so ICE is still the most efficient way to go. The Volt is the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

      For the sake of those individuals who want to buy a Volt I hope that the Volt will remain available. But once the battery of any plug-in EV runs out some other form of motivation is required to keep going. This is where the Volt falls way short of the Prius, et al.

      The Prius, Fusion Hybrid and Camry Hybrid, and all in that class, have it over a Volt which uses 1930′s technology similar to railroad locomotives by employing an ICE-powered AC generator to spin the propulsion motor(s).

      A better way would have been to increase efficiency by employing direct-drive like the Hybrids from Prius, Fusion, Camry, Lexus, etc etc etc.

      What many people have done is buy a Cruze instead of a Volt and use all the money they saved to buy gas, or a second Cruze.

      The Prius has sold more than a million copies in ten years and is still selling well. Let’s see how many copies the Volt will have sold after ten years.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Record sales last month and free publicity from the blogs…one week added!

    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120404/AUTO0103/204040417/1361/Sales-bump-to-revive-idled-Volt-plant-a-week-earlier


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