After all the conflict over trouble with its lithium-ion batteries, the Chevrolet Volt has finally begun shipping to California dealerships, Automotive News reports. The state’s 140 Chevrolet dealerships will begin selling the low-emission hybrid vehicle again by next week. Not only that, but the low-emissions plug-in hybrid has been approved for use in carpool lanes statewide.
Reviving sales and hitting the hybrid highway
General Motors, desperate to regain a sales edge with its noted hybrid vehicle, appears to have a clear path toward regaining what was lost from a public relations standpoint during the investigation of burning batteries. Now, with a $1,500 California state rebate for consumers who take the hybrid plunge and access to state carpool lanes, the Chevy Volt is moving on up. Unfortunately, past Volt buyers didn’t get to take advantage of these benefits because they didn’t quite meet California’s stringent emissions standards, notes Automotive News.
In addition to various state rebates, Chevrolet Volt purchasers are also eligible to apply for a $7,500 federal tax credit for owning a green vehicle.
Volt production re-started February 6
A spokesman for General Motors announced that the Chevy Volt had gone back into production at the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant on February 6 after six weeks of downtime that included a holiday break. The off period gave GM enough time to implement changes to the Volt’s battery pack. Federal investigation into potential fire risk had drawn national attention.
Ultimately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dropped its investigation into the Volt battery, concluding that the fire risk is no more inherent in the hybrid batter-powered vehicle than in gasoline-powered cars. GM has made modifications to new Volt batteries, and is offering to fix the problem for existing customers free of charge.
Picking sales up off the floor
An indication of how much damage the NHTSA investigation did to the Chevrolet Volt’s sales numbers is that January 2012 saw only 603 units sold, the lowest monthly total since the previous August. Thanks to the fresh carpool certification by the State of California, General Motors expects Volt sales to be lifted considerably. When drivers can save an average of 36 minutes per day on their commute, the convenience and decreased fuel costs are worth their weight in gold.
Chris Perry, the vice president of marketing for Chevrolet, said in a written statement that the Chevy Volt should catch on in a big way with Californians.
“(It’s) certain to be a strong draw for California commuters looking to travel the state’s notoriously congested freeways in the carpool lane,” he said.