Volt Production Drops Slightly As Export Volume Ramps Up And Dealers Sell Demonstrators

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 08, 2011

    Saw my first Volt in use the other day here in western PA. Actually, it was in a shopping plaza parking lot rather than a dealer's lot. It looks as nice up close as it does at a distance or in pictures. EN is right, we'll just have to be patient to see meaningful trends. It's tough to draw conclusions with recent data. But my opinion is that GM's 2012 forecast is wildly optimistic, particularly as our economy stalls.

  • Carlson Fan Carlson Fan on Nov 08, 2011

    The Volt sold a little over 1100 units in October. Not bad. The dealership I was at had already sold 2 in the first week. So I'm not sure GM will make it's goal of 10K by years end but they may be around 7-8K units. Again not bad. Imagine if the economy was still going gangbusters and gas was over $4 a gallon. I suspect they'd be selling even better. Me, I like idea of the Volt or any vehicle for that matter than runs on something besides imported oil. Mainly becasue I believe that energy independance for the US is important. Lastly, I be proud if I had anything to due with the design and manufacture of that car. Having an engineering background, I'm amazed at what they accomplished at GM with car. Drive one and then tell me it's not worth every penny.Or at least drive one before you make some troll comment that it's a "pig".

  • Billccm I think we will see history repeat itself. The French acquired AMC in the 1980s, discovered they couldn't make easy money, sold AMC off to Chrysler. Jeep is all that remained. This time the French acquired FCA, and they are discovering no easy profits. Assume an Asian manufacturer will acquire what remains of Chrysler, but this time Jeep and RAM are the only survivors.
  • William I feel very sorry for those who attempt to use an attack on a product as a way to deprecate an individual whose politics they disagree with. They delude themselves and mislead others.
  • Arthur Dailey Have to admit that I love that interior colour. And also like the upholstery on the seats and the inside of the door panels. And when was the last time you saw a door hanging coffee cup holder? Some here probably didn't know that such a device existed.
  • Buickman this is about cars. I miss Robert.
  • 28-Cars-Later Can we end debt slavery next? Its getting to the point where its no longer voluntary.