GM won’t meet its Chevy Volt 2011 sales goal


Whether you like the Chevy Volt or not, if you are a supporter of electric cars, you should be disheartened by the news that the Volt won’t meet its 2011 sales goal after all. General Motors (s GM) said Thursday it won’t be able to sell 10,000 Volts this year, as it had set out to do after launching the plug-in hybrid electric car a year ago, reported the Detroit News.

Not hitting the goal signals a setback in efforts to convince consumers to embrace more environmentally friendly vehicles. The Volt attracted a lot of fanfare leading to up its launch because it represented a departure from the gasoline-centric approach of GM and the auto industry. Sure, at a price at around $41,000 (before tax incentives), the car isn’t as affordable as comparable sedans that run on combustion engines only. But then, GM wasn’t expecting the car to sell outsell any of its other models either, particularly given the weak economy.

GM saw an increase in Volt sales in October and November, but the uptick isn’t enough to enable the carmaker to hit its goal.  GM sold 1,139 Volts in November while Nissan sold 672 all-electric LEAFs in the U.S. In October, 1,108 Volts found buyers while 849 LEAFs did so. But Nissan still leads in overall sale for 2011 so far: 8,720 LEAFs versus 6,142 Volts.

GM and other carmakers have been under pressure by the government to roll out more fuel-efficient cars and invest more in electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles (with hefty financial support from the government). Just last month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new fuel economy standard for 2025 that comes with provisions to allow automakers to hit lower fuel efficiency numbers if they invest in, say, building electric cars or using better air conditioning systems that emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Though GM and Nissan were early to the electric car marker, other carmakers plan to follow. Ford, Toyota, Honda all plan to launch similar cars in the United States over the next few years. Tesla Motors (s TSLA) plans to roll out Model S into the showroom next year, and Coda Automotive just started producing its very first, all-electric model.

How well GM and Nissan fare will give other automakers an indication of the consumer appetite for electric cars, and they will adjust their production accordingly. Any product plan cuts will not just impact carmakers and their dealers, but suppliers such as lithium-ion battery makers. A123 Systems (s AONE) already is doing layoffs and has reduced its sales projection because its customer, Fisker Automotive, has cut its battery orders.

President Obama has set a goal of putting 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015. Debates have raged over whether the goal is easy to meet. His administration had counted on a number of car companies to supply enough cars to help achieve the goal. It was counting on GM to produce 15,000 Volts and Nissan to deliver 25,000 LEAFs for 2011. Figures for Think EV and Fisker Karma also aren’t panning out.


Che Ma

EV may not be the issue. It could be the short comings of charging stations, cost of electricity when EPA closes mines and cost of electric will increase nation wide. And the there will be a environmental issue when the battery cells have to be stored somewhere in the middle of a desert someday.


The car is already expensive enough to start with. Nut when you have dealers tacking-on an extra 6000 to 7000 bucks over MSRP, that’s a guaranteed recipe for missing your sales goal.

It seems like the dealers are look to eat-up most if not all of any government incentives….

Michael Walsh

This looks indicative of the skewed and odd “news” that is published if you can call it “News”… I agree with the other posts “Disheartening” and the whole headline– is misleading and implies that electric vehicles are failing to be popular and sell well. If the government/ Obama are serious about 1 million EVs by whatever year… then set up free financing and guarantee the loans.

If the car gets reposessed, place it into community car share programs so people get to know and drive the cars and get to learn the technology, cost of maintenance and fuel savings, environmental benefits, etc. This is an “infant industry” so it needs incentives to take off. Take away oil industry subsidies and apply them here, same outlays…

Ucilia Wang

@Michael: there is a federal tax credit of up to $7500 for electric cars, and some states also offer incentives. And, yes, electric cars are not popular and are not selling well. I haven’t sen any GM’s own number about how many people are on the waiting list. The company re-started production of the Volt back in the summer, so it should have been producing them in much larger volumes by now. Then it allowed dealers to sell demo models,so the supply was to have increased from 1,800 to as much as 4,100 by early November (not counting the factory shipment for the month). Yet the sales didn’t jump much from October to November (1,108 to 1,139).

Ignacio Gonzalez

I think it is going to take a lot longer than one year for EVs to grow significantly, so not sure that I feel “disheartened” about GM not being able to meet its sales of Volts for 2011, even though I like the idea of electric vehicles.

Probably would be a good exercise to go back and see how long it took to shift from horse and buggy to automobiles in the early 1900s, and use that as a rough, realistic benchmark of how long it takes for people and suppliers to change in the area of transportation, given costs, technology, manufacturing, behaviors, and a host other factors that go into switching.

If one is concerned about the environment and supports EVs, to me the short-term concern that folks should be “disheartened” about is the actual source of electricity required to power EVs. At this point it is mostly coal, so no amount of increased sales of EVs this year or next is going to make me feel good that this solution is going to make a positive impact on the environment if we don’t address the fundamental source of electricity very soon.

Mo Kilma

I have been waiting six months (expected delivery mid-December) for my Nissan Leaf.


@ucilia Your article is very confusing at best. I’m thinking that your statement: “Not hitting the goal signals a setback in efforts to convince consumers to embrace more environmentally friendly vehicles” is bullshit.
I’m on the volt waiting list. (I know two other people just in my small circle of friends that are on the Tesla waiting list). The most recent info I have (3 weeks old) is that there are 4200 chevy dealers in the US. 2600 of them are authorized to sell the volt. Of those, 300 have never received either a demo model or a volt to sell (including my local dealer). Another 500 have a demo on the lot but no other volts to sell. On Nov 7th, GM told the dealers they could sell the demo volts (I assume due to the frustration resulting from not having the volts to sell).
To my knowledge, the issue is entirely the manufacturing and supply chain and has nothing what-so-ever to do with the “consumers embracing environmentally friendly vehicles”.

Ucilia Wang

@Alf, I hear what you are saying. But being able to supply cars as promised is connected to winning customers over. Maybe you are willing to wait for a long time. If I need a car, I’d just switch to a readily available gasoline model. Maybe a Cruze.


“being able to supply cars as promised is connected to winning customers over.”
Sorry, but there is no way anyone could read your article and come away with that, as a point you were trying to make.


I’d agree with @alf here. My initial take away was lack of demand until I read the comments. Would be nice to clarify


Alf, Thanks for the homework you should have wrote the article. These companies are paid big bucks to roll out new fuel-efficient vehicles not guzzlers that are on there lots…get it Ucilia Wang! NOT making cars available to the public is an issue “Not” lack of demand as stated in the article. A very weak story….G-Man.


You obviously are affluent and your small circle of friends are also as the average income of a Volt owner is well over $100,000. I would suspect the average income of a Tesla owner is well in excess of that since they cost about 3X as much as a Volt. You can dream up all the excuses for poor sales you want but the fact is customers don’t want them. You and your small circle of friends are innovators, and likely well healed at that.


EVs’ shortcomings do not reflect a lack of demand, but rather lackluster supply and rollout


You must work for the government. There are 4500+ Volts available but no buyers.


For the most part the people who don’t like the Volt are the tea party anti gov’t types who have never seen one let alone driven one. I love mine.

Joe Nemchek

For the most part, the type of people that like the Volt are pro big government libtards who are too stupid to know any better. I love my Toyota Camry and I didn’t ask other taxpayers to subsidize it. Anyone who buys a Volt is an utter, total and complete moron.

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