Volt Birth Watch 30: "Severely Limited Launch" in 2010. Or Not.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
volt birth watch 30 severely limited launch in 2010 or not

Just-auto [JA, sub] had a little chin-wag with Larry Burns, The General's Vice President of R&D and Planning. The man in charge of bringing Chevrolet's gas – electric hybrid Volt to market told JA that GM's plug-in Hail Mary will be in short supply when it hits the (a?) showroom. "We're not going to sell it in every city and we're not going to sell it though every Chevrolet dealership," Burns said. "It just doesn't make sense to do that yet. You'd have to set up the service parts in all of those dealerships and train all of those dealers to service the vehicles. We might concentrate it in five or ten cities and say that is where we want to start." Or they may not, for the simple reason that the Volt might not be ready by 2010. "When asked by just-auto if GM's timelines for any kind of launch in 2010, even a restricted one, are still realistic given that the company has only recently taken delivery of the first batteries for testing, Burns admitted: 'It's a challenge. I'm not going to mislead anybody about that but I'm proud that we've signed up to that challenge.'" So I guess GM Car Czar Bob Lutz is still in charge of the misleading part of the program. Hey Bob, here comes the Easter Bunny!

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  • CPOBG CPOBG on Mar 13, 2008

    Another problem with, "not going to sell it in every dealership," is the state franchise laws. Certain states strengthened them in years past when manufacturers began "franchise within a franchise" type programs, i.e. you may be a Cadillac / Oldsmobile, etc. dealer but you don't get the "hot" new __________, unless you meet certain criteria, jump through hoops, pay us off, etc. The state laws ended that and now, if you have a dealer agreement, you get what they build -- and sorrowfully, that includes the good and the bad.

  • Greg woulf Greg woulf on Mar 13, 2008

    GM is right on schedule, and leading all car companies in this field. 2010 was an aggressive schedule from the start, and yet they're still on track to meet that goal. The batteries were delivered on time for one manufacturer, and less than a month behind for the other. Development isn't linear, it's parallel, so this doesn't even put the whole project behind unless the battery is the long lead item with a fully packed 3 year schedule. As far as offering the car at limited dealerships, well that makes good business sense in every way. City driving EV's shine because of the regenerative braking and instant on, service centers with multiple customers can carry an inventory of parts and limit the cost of new testing equipment. There's no advantage to offering the Volt at every dealership. The people that want it in the first year will drive a bit to get one, the people that don't even know the Volt exists(most people) won't even consider buying one until they're successful. People bash GM all the time, but they're doing things right for this product.

  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Mar 13, 2008
    People bash GM all the time, but they’re doing things right for this product. If they were doing things right for this product they wouldn't be doing it this way. The right way to do it would be to show a concept give a realistic timeline and then shut up until they had something to show the media, a working prototype test mule, then shut up again until they had a production example they could start using for PR. Then a smart soft launch in select cities due to the nature of this product, such as New York City, LA, San Fran, Chicago, Atlanta, etc. Then slowly roll out the car nationally over 12-18 months with proper marketing. Not showing a car that wont even look like what they are showing in national ads(have any of you seen the one where the kids listen to the humm of a powerplant that doesn't exist because its an empty shell, pathetic). They are using the Volt as a greenwashing PR campain when it will end up being a half-assed overly expensive product if it ever makes it to production(I have serious doubts this car will ever be sold). They are already admitting the car wont meet their claimed price point and probably wont be all they have been claiming until version 2. And the bashing is warranted, where is the HyWire we should have gotten already that had the same sort of hype.
  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Mar 13, 2008

    Service and training of dealer service departments? That doesn't make any sense. If I was in charge of such a revolutionary product such as the Volt, letting the dealers mess with it would the LAST thing I would allow. The limited rollout makes sense and I would agree to that. Rather than stock and train dealers, I would instead simply train them to remove and replace complete components. I would have the removed components sent back to the lab for diagnostics and failure analysis. This would allow GM to recognize problems and make corrections to production. I would not pre-manufacture a deep inventory of replacement components. Instead, I would keep it shallow. Otherwise corrections could render the inventory obsolete. Limiting the market and volume of Volts will help control demand for replacement components. Only after a sufficient period, perhaps 1 to 2 years, of beta-testing in this mode would I then start training dealers to do some of this work themselves. This would only be after most bugs have been worked out and the product is stable and reliable. In other words, keep a tight grip on the product. There is way too much on the line to allow other variables to blow it for GM.