Is GM Hiding the Chevy Volt?


Of course it isn’t. But some automotive bloggers have gotten exercised in recent days under the false idea that sales of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid – really, a type of electric car – aren’t going anywhere and that General Motors doesn’t care about it.

Remember the conspiracy theories and angst that followed the demise of GM’s first all-electric car, the EV1, over a decade ago and resulted in the production of a documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? (Actress Alexandra Paul, who appeared in that doc, has been helping Chevy plug the Volt, including asking Volt owners to help craft their own car manual, below.)

Well, consider this tempest in a teapot as a distant echo of that concern.[more]

It’s true that GM did sell only 483 Volts in April after moving 683 in March in the US. And since introducing the car a few months ago, the company has sold only about 1,700 Volts all told.

But GM has a good explanation for Volt sales volumes that make EV fanatics a bit nervous at this point: They’re working on it. They’re ramping up retail sales, as well as production, slowly to make sure they do it right.

And as they build Volt into what they hope will become the dominant EV brand in coming years, GM needs to use some of the cars it sells to further the cause of long-term marketing of Volt. So it has been detouring lots of sales to its dealerships so that the Volt units can serve as demonstration models, instead of putting those cars into the public-distribution stream.

“We know the best way to experience Volt is to get behind the wheel and drive it,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director. “An added bonus is that our dealers are seeing that the Volt is increasing traffic onto our dealer showroom floors and is exposing consumers to Chevy’s line of ‘gas-friendly’ vehicles.

“It’s tough to limit the number of Volts for sale to potential customers when demand is so strong, but the Volt has value to the Chevrolet portfolio well beyond incremental sales.”

So there you have it. Chevy still expects to deliver Volts to all 50 states by the end of this year. And among other things, that means more of them will be snapped up by enviro-celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Stephen King. The horror master told a newspaper about Volt, “It’s like saying to the oil cartel, ‘Here, stick this in your eye.’ It’s like a license to steal.”

Below, Alexandra Paul reaches out Chevy Volt owners to submit videos and help create a Volt users’ guide by users — the first video-based owner-generated user guide: