After being flayed for not achieving its 2011 sales goal for the Chevy Volt, you might think General Motors would shy away from further volume predictions for its innovative range-extended electric car.
CEO Dan Akerson said in late June that the company thought it would sell 35,000 to 40,000 Volts globally this year, including European sales of its Opel/Vauxhall Ampera variation.
His comments, in a speech to the Executives' Club of Chicago, were reported by Bloomberg in late June.
Akerson contrasted that projection to the original 2012 sales target of 60,000, made up of 45,000 Volts in the U.S. and 15,000 in the rest of the world.
U.S. sales of the Volt through July were 10,666, putting the car on track for total 2012 sales of perhaps 18,000 to 20,000. Sales have been especially strong in the crucial California market.
TheOpel and Vauxhall versions of the Volt are known as the Ampera; the differences are largely confined to front styling.
European orders were unexpectedly strong, reaching 7,000 even before the car went on sale.
Through July, GM has sold 2,861 Amperas--perhaps helped by the car's designation as the European Car of the Year--and that number is expected to increase substantially by December.
2012 Vauxhall Ampera
GM also sold 18 Volts in China; the car just recently went on sale there, though sales of the plug-in electric car are expected to be modest in the price-sensitive Chinese market.
Akerson attributed some of the Volt's lower-than-expected sales to political controversy over the car, which was widely attacked for missing its 2011 sales goal of 10,000. That year, Chevy sold 7,671 Volts in the U.S.
During 2011, GM's technology halo car suffered through a lengthy and very public investigation of a fire in the lithium-ion battery pack of a Volt that had been wrecked in an NHTSA crash test three weeks earlier.
GM offered voluntary modifications to add protection to the battery pack (most Volt owners haven't taken up the offer), and the car was exonerated by the NHTSA, but not before a Congressional hearing on the incident at which Akerson was called to testify.
GM CEO Dan Akerson at the Volt battery fires hearing
Akerson said in March of this year that GM would stick with the Volt, despite the lower-than-predicted sales and a myriad of other challenges.
As one Automotive News reporter notes, Akerson's comment may launch a brand-new countdown to see whether Volt/Ampera sales meet the latest goal.
If not, will there be another firestorm of criticism?
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