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Transportation Nation

GM Halts Production of Chevy Volt for Five Weeks Due to Poor Sales

Friday, March 02, 2012

Image: © GM Corp

Chevy Volts aren't selling well. The Detroit Free Press reports that GM is shutting down the Volt plant in Michigan for five weeks to avoid an oversupply of the electric/combustion combination car that GM has invested heavily to market.

As the automaker bounces back from bankruptcy the Volt was meant to signal a new, cleaner, innovative era for General Motors. But after initial hype and design awards, the company has only sold about 7,600 Volts, far less than the 10,000 GM projected, according to the Free Press.

GM will temporarily lay off 1,300 employees at its Detroit Hamtramck plant from March 19 to April 23.

“The fact that GM is now facing an oversupply of Volts suggests that consumer demand is just not that strong for these vehicles." Edmunds.com Chief Economist Dr. Lacey Plache said. "The price premium on the Volt just doesn’t make economic sense for the average consumer when there are so many fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars available, typically for thousands of dollars less.”

The Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car, has a waiting list of about 26,000 people, according to AutoBlog but has sold just 800 cars per month on average, which is more than the Chevy Volt.

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Transportation Nation

It's Morning in Hamtramck (Or: Let's Put the Nightmare Of The Volt Battery Fire Hearing Behind Us)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On the heels of a blistering Congressional hearing yesterday, where officials from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration were accused of sacrificing public safety to protect the government's investment in General Motors (sample tweet from committee chair, Republican Darrell Issa: @GOPOversight's Mike Kelly "takes the gloves off" to deliver accountability for #ChevyVolt subsidies you paid for), GM's new Volt ad is more in line with President Obama's take on the auto bailout in the State of the Union: “We bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  And tonight, the American auto industry is back.”

The ad is the latest in a spate of 'Detroit pride'- themed commercials (think 'Eminem's "this is the Motor City. This is what we do"' Chrysler commercial from last year's Superbowl). In this one, a Chevrolet Volt assembly line winds through the streets of Hamtramck, Michigan -- described by Chevy as "a city within a city in the heart of Detroit."

“This isn’t just the car we wanted to build,” a narrator intones. “This is the car America had to build.” Watch below!

(Hat tip to The Hill)

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Transportation Nation

Photo Detour: Chevrolet Speedometers from 1941 - 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

1949 Chevy Speedometer (from Annyas.com)

Christian Annyas has collected Chevrolet's speedometer designs from 1941 to the present.

A scan through the ages reveals a bevy of fonts evolving with contemporary style. Speed ambitions vary by make and change with the times, and the designs vary from rounded shapes to flat lines.

What's most surprising is the speed these gauges cover: you might expect the Corvette to top out at 160 m.p.h., but it's the 2008 Chevy Cruze that that maxes out the speedometer at 220 m.p.h.

See the photo set here at Annyas.com. (h/t PSFK)

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Transportation Nation

First Chevy Volt Ships to Dealers

Monday, December 13, 2010

Image: © GM Corp

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Chevrolet began shipping Volt electric vehicles to customers and dealerships Monday. The first of 160 cars expected to be shipped this week from the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant are heading to California, Texas, Washington, D.C. and New York, the initial launch markets for the Volt.

Tony DiSalle, Volt marketing director at Chevrolet called it a "historic milestone." Chevy announced plans for the Volt about four years ago, signaling a move from heavier SUVs toward more fuel efficient cars.

The Volt does have a small gas tank and gas powered engine to supplement the electric drive and allow longer trips of up to 379 miles on a single charge and fill up. That's in contrast to the Nissan Leaf, which does not have a gas engine. The first person to order a Nissan Leaf received their car in San Fransisco on Saturday.

Today's batch of Volts are not the first to ship but they are the first batch to go out to dealers for retail consumers. Earlier this year, Chevrolet shipped 15 pre-production Volts to "technology advocates" and "electric vehicle enthusiasts" for a 90-day vehicle and charging evaluation program.

Chevy has offered an incentive to spark early purchases of the car before roadside charging stations exist.  The company is providing free in-home 240 volt chargers to the first customers who pre-ordered Volts.

Recently private companies have announced plans to build charging stations in Tennessee and Texas. Still, early buyers of the Volt, or Leaf, will have to rely, at least in large part, on in-home chargers.

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Transportation Nation

Senators Now Crossing the Aisle for Electric Car

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Lawmakers are hoping for a chance to give the electric car a jolt in the Senate’s upcoming energy bill.

A bipartisan group of senators are pushing a new round of incentives and cash designed to speed development of long-range batteries and plug-in stations that could finally start to push the US transportation fleet away from fossil fuels.

No one expects it to happen quickly. Most lawmakers and experts expect it will take decades before a significant proportion of Americans are driving plug-in hybrids or electric cars.

The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 throws $1.5 billion in research and development grants to high-tech battery firms.

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Transportation Nation

Preliminary Data: SUV Sales Inching Back Up

Friday, June 04, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) For a long time, light truck sales, including SUV's, were about half the retail vehicle market share. In May of 2008, as gas approached $5.00 a gallon in some markets, sales plummeted to 43 percent. But now, according to figures provided to WNYC by Autodata Corporation, they're inching back up, to more than 48 percent of the market share, compared to 47.3 percent in May 2009.

Sales of the tiny Chevy Aveo were up 88 percent from May of 2009 to 2010. But the giant Suburban moved off the lot even faster - 100 percent faster. Sales of the Chevy Equinox were up even more -- from 3,689 in May of 2009 to 13,134 in May of 2010. That's a 256 percent increase.

Toyota didn't fare as well as American automakers, but its Prius sold well -- 41 percent better than this time a year ago. Sales of the The Toyota 4Runner, a large SUV, almost tripled.

Now these numbers are raw, and unadjusted. But they point to an interesting phenomenon. As WNYC Economics Editor Charles Herman reports, Americans are feeling a bit better now then they were in the spring of 2009. The pain of the recession is receding a bit. And so, apparently, is the memory of how much it can cost to fill up the tank of a large SUV.

We'll continue to digest these numbers over the next week.

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