Chevrolet Volt production restarts, with an optimistic future
NEW YORK, April 17 — It must rank among the shortest turnarounds in automotive history — in the space of the first three months of this year, the Chevrolet Volt went from an underselling political deadweight to one of GM’s most highly-praised products.
Today, Chevrolet Volt production begins again in Detroit following a shorter-than-expected shutdown announced in early March to reduce the inventory levels of unsold vehicles.
At that time, the Volt’s future looked bleak — it was being rounded on by US Republican presidential candidates and was still suffering from the after effects of a series of damaging headlines after a federal investigation into battery safety.
Fast forward to today, and the future is looking distinctly more rosy.
In the US, the Volt is again a political darling thanks to the support of Republican heavyweight George Bush and a volte-face by some of the right-wing media.
It’s also proved remarkably popular with consumers so far this year despite the headlines, with first quarter figures showing a surge in Volt sales attributed to record high gas prices.
Now, General Motors believes that it will be able to shift over 3,000 Volts a month over the coming months, despite the relatively high US$39,145 (RM118,000) base price, buoyed by the Volt’s recent anointing as European Car of the Year (a title it shared with the Opel Ampera).
That’s undoubtedly helped the Ampera, the Volt’s European cousin, race past the 7,000 order point as quickly as it has, potentially leaving the Volt in its wake — last year, total US orders numbered just over 7,600.
Rumours are even beginning to fly on what General Motors might do with the vehicle next, with some suggesting the addition of an “electric vehicle” mode which would force the vehicle to stay in electric mode to dodge emissions laws, new technology systems and new colours.
Of course, neither model is out of the woods just yet — suspicions around battery safety linger (not helped by a recent explosion at the General Motors Tech Center in Detroit, unrelated to any vehicle), and plenty of right-wing detractors in America are still gunning for the car they dismissively describe as the “Obamamobile”.
But with production back on track, there’s no doubt that for now at least, the future of General Motors’ daring electric project is looking brighter than ever. — AFP-Relaxnews