General Motors, the world’s leading automaker, said Tuesday that it will hold back production of Chevrolet’s plug-in hybrid hatchback Volt for three weeks this summer. This is in addition to the current hold on production, which continues until April 23.
Business as usual, in part
This is business as usual, at least in part. Many car manufacturing facilities take brief breaks during the summer months. Last year, General Motor’s Detroit-Hamtramck facility, where the Volt is made, was “dark” for two weeks. However, this year’s delay marks the longest in the model’s production history.
Michelle Malcho, a spokesperson for General Motors, sent an email to the Detroit free Press saying the production halt was a “normal part of … managing to market demand.”
Nation’s showrooms are overstocked
According to General Motors, the temporary freeze comes in response to the nation’s showrooms being overstocked with the fuel-efficient model.
Volt slow to gain acceptance
The Volt offers much to consumers weary of escalating gas prices. Fully charged, it gets 35 miles on battery power alone, before the gas-sipping motor kicks in. In spite of this, it has struggled in gaining acceptance due to its relatively steep price tag. The lack of an infrastructure of charging stations as well as the necessity of installing a home charging station have also kept many new customers away. Not to mention the inconvenience of waiting the 10 hours it requires to get the car fully charged from the home 120-volt station.
NHTSA probes battery fires
Meanwhile, an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association over allegations that the car’s battery could burst into flames following an accident has also left a bad taste in the mouth of the car-buying the public.
Sales imply growing acceptance
In spite of these significant impediments, however, the Volt seems to be gaining in popularity and acceptance, and it will likely not be disappearing any time soon. Sales were somewhat slow in the early part of the year, but they have been picking up as the summer driving season approaches.
Chevrolet sold only 1,023 Volts in February. But the automaker announced last month that the Volt showed the largest sales increase of any of its models. March sales of the Volt totaled 2,289 units, the best month yet for the hybrid. That is an increase of 26.5 percent over sales from March, 2011.
Still likely short of goal
In spite of the good month, and perhaps more to come, the automaker is still expected to come short of its goal of selling 45,000 Volts in 2012. General Motors laid off 1,300 employees during the current production halt.