Last year wasn’t a great one for General Motors’ first production plug-in range-extended electric car. 

Continued negative press -- not to mention post-crash-test fires and production-line upgrades -- conspired to produce first-year sales figures a little lower than GM had hoped. 

Does that mean the Chevrolet Volt is a sales flop? According to GM’s Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, it’s too early to tell. 

More Time Needed

Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress event on Tuesday evening at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Girsky was keen to point out that while the Chevrolet Volt missed its 10,000 car sales target for 2011 by 2,329 vehicles, it didn’t mean the Volt was a flop. 

“I think it’ll be May or June before we know whether this thing really has legs,” he said. “We are prepared for if it does.”

Dealers Need to Get Behind The Car

First 2011 Chevrolet Volt delivered to retail buyer Jeffrey Kaffee, in Denville, NJ, December 2010

First 2011 Chevrolet Volt delivered to retail buyer Jeffrey Kaffee, in Denville, NJ, December 2010

Despite the Chevrolet Volt fire news stories which broke in November, Girsky said GM is still filling orders from dealers across the U.S. 

But while some dealers are still requesting healthy numbers of cars, some dealers aren’t performing as well.

“I don’t think the dealers are really pushing this car yet, as most of them only have one or two,” he explained. 

As more cars become available and news of the battery-pack safety upgrade spreads, expressed his hope that will change. 

Volt Still A Halo Car

Although sales figures are lower than GM first predicted, many of its first-time Chevrolet customers are making the switch from other luxury brands just because of the plug-in hybrid. 

According to Girsky, the median income of the average Volt buyer is around $175,000. Given the high ticket price of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, that’s hardly surprising.  

“[The Chevy Volt] is bringing more BMW customers to GM than Cadillac is,” he joked. 

Is Girsky Right?

Throughout 2011, the Chevrolet Volt was only available in limited numbers in selected markets.  

With nationwide availability underway for 2012 -- not to mention improved production-line volume -- we share GM’s optimism that sales will improve.

Waiting another six months before deciding on the Volt’s success is a smart move too, especially after GM’s recently announced -- and NHSTA approved -- safety fix should help the improve the Volt’s public image.


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