2011 Chevrolet Volt outside Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant

2011 Chevrolet Volt outside Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant

Last month, the 2011 Nissan Leaf took the lead in the U.S. electric vehicle sales wars from the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Through June, Nissan sold 3,875 Leafs, despite production delays stemming from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Chevy Volt sales totaled just 2,745 units through June, with vanishing inventory levels contributing to the Volt’s low sales.

Presently there are fewer than 100 2011 Chevy Volts in dealer inventory, and only 11 percent of dealers selling the Volt have cars on their lots.

One reason for the Volt inventory shortage has been necessary retooling at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant that builds the extended-range electric car.

Despite this, GM’s chairman and CEO Dan Akerson stated as recently as last month that Chevy would meet its production goal of 10,000 Volts for the U.S. plus 5,000 Opel Amperas for export.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

After a month long production halt, assembly of 2012 Volts began this week. If Hamtramck can build 3,750 units per month, the company could easily hit its latest 2011 target of 16,000 units, as confirmed by Rob Peterson, GM spokesman.

The plant now has three times the production capacity for Volts, which should translate into the ability to produce 45,000 Volts annually--a number first announced last summer.

While CEO Dan Akerson had initially mentioned a 2012 total as high as 120,000, boosting Volt production has many challenges, including a nascent supply base for some of the electric machinery in the car.

Now that Chevy has the production capacity it wanted, one question remains:  when dealers have inventory, will buyers continue to embrace the Volt?

[The Detroit News]


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