Chevy Idles Volt, Media Draws Politicized Conclusions

By · August 28, 2012

Chevy Volt Production Line

The most recent temporary production halt for the Volt is nothing out of the ordinary for a low-volume vehicle line, but that didn't stop some media outlets from reporting that the car is a "dud."

GM will temporarily halt production of the Chevy Volt at its Detroit-Hamtramck factory next month as part of a planned shutdown to retool the facility for the remade Impala line. The idling will last for less than a month, spanning from September 15 to October 17.

Some media outlets took the news as a sign that Volt sales had tanked, jumping back into a familiar narrative that has maligned the car since long before its release. "GM Expected to Suspend Chevy Volt Production Over Slow Sales", read the headline at the USA Today's website. The factually-unsupported sentiment was echoed immediately around the web, spawning headlines like "Call It A Dud? Chevrolet Idles Volt Plant Again For Slow Sales".

Chevy says it has 6,500 Volts on hand, which should leave it with the standard 60 days worth of inventory once production resumes in October. The carmaker last idled the Volt line in March because it had accumulated more than 10,000 unsold vehicles (enough to cover about four months of sales,) but this time around, swelling inventories weren't a consideration in the decision.

"We are comfortable with our current inventory levels of these products, which allows us to take time for launch readiness of the Impala," said GM's David Darovitz in an email to the Detroit Free Press.

Since March, the Volt has experienced a major uptick in popularity, selling more than 8,000 cars in a five month period thanks in part to aggressive lease pricing. In the first half of 2012, Chevy sold more than three times as many Volts as it did in over the same period the year before.

The Most Politicized Car on the Market

No car in recent memory has proven to be as politically polarizing as the Volt. For many Democrats, the recent success of the Volt is seen as proof that the auto bailouts and stricter emissions standards have succeeded in creating a booming, American-manufactured green car market. For Republican critics, Chevy's failure to meet its original sales targets for the car has been trumpeted as proof that the Volt is yet another government boondoggle. In truth, neither characterization has much basis in reality.

While it's true that carmakers are being forced to innovate in anticipation of increasing fuel economy standards, steadily rising fuel prices have played just as much of a role in inspiring the shift. The Volt is considered the brainchild of Bob Lutz (a staunch Republican,) and was originally conceived of long before Barack Obama had even announced his candidacy for president.

While the car's fortunes have reversed of late, it's far too early to consider it either a smash success or an abject failure. If this latest temporary shutdown is proof of anything, it's only that we can expect sensationalistic headlines to propagate around even the most mundane news items related to the vehicle.

For its part, GM has mercifully decided to ban all candidate appearances at its factories during the 2012 election season.

Comments

· John McConnell (not verified) · 2 years ago

I ordered my 2013 Volt 3 weeks ago. Drove two different times and loved it! Can't wait!

· David D. (not verified) · 2 years ago

I purchased a 2012 Chevy Volt 3 months ago and I am here to state that this vehicle is the BEST that I have ever purchased. The build quality is excellent and 1 have only visited the gas station once within 3 months. I also only pumped less than 7 gallons of gasoline in my Chevy Volt. I am averaging 213 lifetime miles per gallon in my volt. Lets see any other auto manufacturer top that. This is by far the best American auto produced and I save lots of cash by not giving it to the expensive gas stations and I am also helping to keep our air clean. Wake up America!!!! Don't let a good car go unnoticed. Test drive a Chevy Volt and see for yourself.

· Max Reid (not verified) · 2 years ago

Republicans, Big Oil, OPEC all hate Volt, since it can double as both Electric and Gasolene vehicle. Many volt owners go to gas station only once in a month and take only 10 gallons of gas.

Anyway Volt has succeeded in convincing people that Plugins work and its followed by Prius Plugin and C-Max PIugin. Expect hybrids and plugins to gain more and leave gas guzzler in dust.

Gas prices have crossed $3.75 / gallon and when it reached $4, things will look scary.

· Shel (not verified) · 2 years ago

I purchased a 2012 Volt 5 months ago feel the same way! It's luxury, it's high tech, it's awesome!

· smithjim1961 (not verified) · 2 years ago

"No car in recent memory has proven to be as politically polarizing as the Volt"

I've been a car nut since the 1960s. In all the years I've been following automotive news I can't think of one car that's be politicized AT ALL!

I think GM may have learned a lesson from Toyota who stuck with the Prius even though sales were not spectacular in the first few years. I plan to purchase or lease a Volt sometime next year. It's only a matter of time before the general public realizes what a great car the Volt is. I believe the Volt will be selling quite well by the end of Obama's second term.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 2 years ago

2011 volt here. Very Satisfied. I have a different take on this shutdown. My tax dollars (I'm very heavily taxed, unlike connected corporations) are being used through the GM bailout to build plants in Brazil, and Volt and Cadillac facilities in China.

I hope people think about that the next time they get a tax bill they consider excessive, or talk to a younger person who complains they can't get a decent paying factory job. For the record, I'm part of the 99%, and pay more than my fair share.

· · 2 years ago

I can undertand that someone wants more space and carego capacity and decides to buy a VIA Motors (http://www.viamotors.com) truck but it is clear we have to move from petropower to electropower. Petrol powered cars will soon be as backwardss as steam locomotives.

· lsickler (not verified) · 2 years ago

Picked up my Volt 2 weeks ago...527 miles and used .9 gallons of gas so far. I think people just need to see it work in the real world. I get stopped all the time and people ask how it works, what happens when the charge runs out and things like that. The more GM sticks with it and get's Volt's out there on the road the more it will become accepted.

Ford's new entry into the market will also help a lot, if nothing else the 32k list price for the Energi is going to be a lot more attractive then the 42,500 that my Volt was listed for.

· Thomas J. Thias (not verified) · 2 years ago

The Amazing Chevy Volt EREV- Facts Guy Says:

Amazing Chevy Volt EREV ----------]= PARDON US IF WE LET THE VOLT STEP ASIDE- For Just A Moment- Retooling- 2014 Impala

We Welcome Back The 2014 Chevy Impala- American Made Finally!

https://twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt/status/240822926813851648/photo/1

Best

Thomas J. Thias

· Navion (not verified) · 2 years ago

Priusmaniac;
Sir,
Just where do you think the electricity comes from to charge the batteries in an electric vehicle?
Just because you plug it in at night does not mean that the power was produced pollution free!
Additionally, try driving a totally electric vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf across Montana. Better yet, try it in the winter.
Many technological advances need to be made before "electropower" vehicles become truly reliable.

· · 2 years ago

This is a very well engineered and very well build new car architecture without known reliability problems and everyone is happy with the driving experience. Im sure that sales will continue to grow. It come to the market at the same time as the leaf but it is 3x better at the least, LOL.

· · 2 years ago

@Navion,
I doubt that a large percentage of the cars that are burning millions of gallons of gasoline every year will ever be asked to drive across Montana.
If I needed to regularly drive across Montana, I'd be pushing for all of those people burning gasoline to drive from the suburbs to the city each day to switch to EVs so there would be less demand for the gasoline that I would need to drive across Montana.
You are right that a car charging at night from carbon fuel does emit. It just isn't as expensive because all you pay for is the fuel, not the incremental cost of the generators.

· Bret (not verified) · 2 years ago

@Navion

Sir,

Anyone with more than three brain cells understands that some sources of electricity create pollution. What most people don't realize is that electric cars are considerably cleaner than combustion cars, even if you plug directly into a coal plant. Here is why:

1. The "Wells to Wheels" pollution from oil is much higher than just the emissions from a car's exhaust pipe. By the time they drill, frack, pump, pipe, ship, refine, truck, sell and burn a gallon of gas, it has created more than five times the pollution as coal generated electricity.

2. Electric cars are considerably more efficient than ICE models. For example, the standard Focus gets 40 MPG, while the Focus Electric gets 105 MPGe.

3. Electric cars are most often charged off-peak, so they don't require the electric utility to increase production or capacity.

Electric cars do need technical advances to become more suitable for a wider range of consumers. However, they are very advanced and reliable for this stage of their development and suitabe for many people right now. People who wish to drive across Montana in the winter could do so using a Volt or a C-Max and get there using a lot less gas than an F-250.

· Bike guy (not verified) · 2 years ago

I'm so tired of hearing how Bob lutz is the push for the volt. Bob lutz and Rick Wagner, bled the life out GM, and he wants the credit for the volt. I believe GM is moving forward, But don't give that f ing guy the credit. Give the American un brainwashed public some credit, and Toyotas Prius for breaking new ground. And now we have Nissan with full commitment, let the momentum build.

· · 2 years ago

Max Reid said "Many volt owners go to gas station only once in a month and take only 10 gallons of gas."

I'm sorry, am I supposed to be impressed? This screams that there is a much larger problem than WHAT we drive - it's HOW MUCH we drive! Before I had my Leaf, I drove an Insight (40-45 MPG), and filled the 9 gallon tank less than once per month. Why? Because I live close to where I work. I combine trips. I take the bicycle when I can. I carpool when I can. These are solutions that we should all be doing (in addition to building more Volts/Leafs/Energis/etc). I understand that many cannot afford to live closer to work. But this is not unsolvable. We need to plan cities better. We need to to stop sprawling out like gasoline is cheap and abundant.

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