General Motors plans to relaunch a marketing, PR and advertising campaign for its extended-range electric Volt in the next 30 to 60 days, according to GM CEO Dan Akerson, who made the remarks in a press conference at the Common Wealth Club on Wednesday night. Earlier this month, GM announced that it would suspend production of the Volt for five weeks, to enable the supply of Volts to catch up with demand.
GM was looking to sell 10,000 Volts in 2011, but sold a bit under that — reportedly 7,671. Then in January the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency started an investigation into the Volt over safety concerns, but closed the investigation after finding no evidence of safety issues. Still, Akerson said the investigation “set us back, so we’ve got to rebuild,” and noted that Volt sales have now snapped back to the levels that they were at before the investigation.
Akerson said the new marketing and advertising campaign would “relaunch the product” and focus on things like testimonials from Volt users and would highlight facts like the Volt’s stellar safety record. We’ll be moving away from introducing the product to the world, to showing how the Volt is performing with real customers, said Akerson.
That said, GM will continue to watch the Volt’s sales closely and Akerson says “we’re not going to continue to produce beyond demand. That is foolhardy.” The Volt also makes up less than half of a percent of GM’s overall sales, noted Akerson.
The slightly under performing sales aren’t necessarily an indicator that the Volt is doomed. GM paused production of the Chevy Cruze last year for two weeks, and it ended up becoming one of the company’s most popular cars, pointed out Akerson. He also said that Toyota sold about the same amount of Prius’ in its first year as the Volt in its first year.