General Motors has decided to temporarily pull the plug on its hallmark EV, the Chevy Volt, despite growing sales numbers in February. The move will force the company to temporarily lay-off 1,300 employees as production on the Volt is suspended between March 19th and April 23rd.
On GM’s Facebook page, the company stated that “the Chevrolet Volt had a great February (1k+ sales) and we stand behind the vehicle & technology. We’re simply adjusting for market demand and see great potential, especially in states like California, where new HOV access provides the opportunity for further Volt momentum.”
GM was unable to meet its 2011 sales targets for the Chevy Volt. Although it set a goal of selling 10,000 Volts in 2011, it fell well short of that goal with only 7,671 recorded sales by year end.
Part of the reason sales numbers were so low could be attributed to the negative publicity the Volt received mid-way through the year.
Back in the fall, two Chevrolet Volt’s caught fire when their batteries were punctured after sitting around for a week. The incident led to a full investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as to the safety of the Volt. The NHTSA investigation took several weeks, and according to GM CEO Dan Akerson, turned the Volt into a “political punching bag”.
Although the NHTSA determined that the Volt was just as safe as any petroleum-based vehicle, the company will make adjustments to the Volts structure and battery-coolant system.
So far, GM has sold 1,626 Chevrolet Volts this year, with 1,023 units sold in February alone. The company has stated that suspending production will allow the company to better align production with demand for the Volt in the coming year.
What are your thoughts on GM’s decision to suspend production on the Volt? Do you think Volt sales figures will improve in 2012, when it relaunches?
Image CC licensed by US Embassy Sweden: U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu with the first Chevy Volt to arrive in Sweden.