General Motors plans to shut down the Michigan plant that builds the Chevy Volt for four weeks from mid-September to mid-October.
"We are continuing to match supply and demand of the Volt," Randy Fox, a spokesman for the automaker, told us. "But at the same time, we are gearing up for production of the 2014 Chevy Impala" at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. Fox said the Volt and the new Impala will share the same production line, which needs to be retooled.
The shutdown will be the second for the Volt this year. The first occurred six months ago, after GM executives lowered their forecast (originally 45,000) for Volt sales for 2012.
GM will stop production of the Volt at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant from mid-September to mid-October. (Source: GM)
Industry experts said the latest shutdown reflects the fact that GM executives are still learning the business side of today's plug-in cars. "It is a terrific technology but the costs are too high," David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, told us in an email this week. "They've taken about $5,000 out of the cost but still have $15,000 or so to go. They are learning about other ways to reduce cost, but it takes time."
Mike Holman, research director for Lux Research, told us the shutdown signals that "the demand for electric vehicles is not meeting the expectations that the more aggressive automakers and electric vehicle proponents have looked for."
Lux projects that global annual sales of "heavy plug-ins," such as the Volt, will reach 150,000 by 2020. By that time, sales of conventional hybrids, such as the Prius, will reach 2.7 million per year, and sales of "light plug-ins," such as the Prius PHV, will be around 600,000. In the first seven months of this year, GM sold 10,666 Volts -- an increase of more than 40 percent over the entire year of 2011, according to plugincars.com.
Sales of pure electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, have been weaker. Only 395 Leafs were sold in July, bringing the 2012 total to 4,806. Lux projects that sales of pure electric cars will hit only about 60,000 units per year globally by 2020. "We may have seen an initial surge of sales" of purely battery-powered cars "to people who are enthusiastic early adopters," Holman said. "But once the early adopters already have one, it's not surprising to see the demand tail off."
I beg to differ about your comment regarding those with a passion for driving don't want to by a Volt. Maybe you were lumping all EV/hybrids into that group. But the Volt is fast, corners like is on rails (thanks to the very low COG), I have fun in my Volt particularly when I put it into SPORT mode and smoke everything that wants to take a shot at me. The car is smooth as silk, makes nearly zero noise at any speed, has no rattles, responds instantly to what you want to do. I've been racing my whole life, so I know what performance is. I do miss the four-barrel roar of yesteryear, but I don't miss getting the policeman's attention when I am competing with someone.
If all people thought about when they bought a car were its specs, we would be driving black cars because that is what they offered in the beginning. GM is right to be out there trying to sell them, even if they don't make much on them. They are getting production knowledge which you can't buy and the GM name is associated with vehicles that will likely become standard over a period of time. They dropped the ball badly back in the 1970s and drove away a generation of buyers from American cars. It is wise to avoid the same kind of mistake again.
Imagine that, a car company in the business to sell cars, doesn't want to sell cars. What?!
Dealers put cars in their show rooms that sell. They don't want to be stuck with something sitting there taking up space on the showroom floor. Also, GM dosent force its dealers on what cars to put in their showrooms. Dealers do. Again that brings us back to my first point.
The thing is, people who just don't go from point A to point B, that have a passion for driving, just don't want to buy them.
I find it hard to fathom that a company's inventory balancing activity is news. August 2012 will be the highest sales month for the Volt to date. Yet, even when everyone knows by now the factory is shared by three platforms, when they pause for any reason, the headline is GM HALTS VOLT PRODUCTION or some flavor of that.
What is news is that the car is saving the folks that have one a lot of money in fuel. I have two volts. Both get driven long miles (more than 100 a day in most cases). We were spending nearly $1000/month in fuel between my wife and I. Now we spend about $50.00.
Saturday I had my red volt at the grocery store where I was approached by a couple that owned two pickups, a Chevy Tahoe and a Corvette. They had never seen a Volt before but had heard about them. The wife was spending $77.00 in gas every four days to keep the Tahoe on the road. They love their Tahoe for trips, but hate the miles they have accumulated on it in less than a year and the fuel costs. They like the idea of the Volt to use for everything but the long trips and keep the miles off the Tahoe and put the savings in their pocket. The wife was amazed at how comfortable the seats were. She was amazed at how roomy the back was and that she could fold down the seats for even more room. She really liked that she could install two car seats for her young grandchildren. She really liked the backup camera with the grid showing where the car would go with the current steering wheel position. I told her our local dealer had 6 brand new ones on the lot and she should go down and drive one.
Last week our dog was bitten by a copperhead snake and we had two Volts neither even close to being fully charged in the garage. Got in and drove one to the nearest pet hospital over 40 miles away. Got there without any issues. It is a car you can really depend on. Our dog survived after two viles of anti-venom.
GM is now allowing the dealers to put a couple Volts in their loaner car programs where folks can have a chance to drive one on their terms. This is just starting and I think it is a great idea.
Big Blue didn't farm out the CPU, they chose to partner with another company (Intel) and use one of their existing processors, which makes good business sense. Big Blue messed up by farming out the OS and then again by failing to understand their market. They totally misjudged the importance of supporting third-party expansion cards. When they tried to "break the draft" and pull ahead of their competition by switching to micro channel (a move that would have cost their customers quite a bit), they wound up shooting themselves squarely in both feet.
Manufacturing today's high-tech batteries generates quite a bit of toxic waste. We would never tollerate the pollution in the US and the cost of making batteries with low pollution is very high.
I think the average Joe isn't aware of the current crop of EVs and how well they can fit into their lifestyle. If your round trip commute is less than 40 miles, and you only want to own one car, a Volt is perfect. If your rt commute is under 60 miles and you have a second car, a Leaf is perfect. My spouse commutes in a Leaf, and I encourage her to drive swiftly in order to end the notion that the Leaf is sluggish. Quite the opposite in fact. Until people actually see these vehicles on the road, until they know someone that owns one, they are not likely to adopt a new technology. I really haven't seen a Nissan commercial that tells the story. I can Lease a Leaf for what it costs to own a Prius. The Leaf costs about $1 a day for our 40 mile commute (not really, since we qualify for a "LEV" electric rate, our electric cost is free) and during the 39 month 48750 mile lease, we will not require any oil changes. In 39 months we take the lease back and get a new one, no reason to worry about the battery. I'm not a Leaf owner that will go around Volt bashing, the Leaf works for us, the Volt may work for someone else. Oil is finite, when will everyone get that simple fact through their heads?
You're exactly correct. I'm getting gas once every 3 months - and only about 8 gallons each time. High initial cost, but saving $200/month in gas (at $4/gallon). Imagine what I'd be saving if we were paying Europe prices for gas.
You're ONLY looking at the economics and you're ONLY looking at them now. Considering oil independence, air pollution, performance (apparently you haven't driven an EV), AND the economics, the Volt is very cost competitive. I'm still blown away with how many folks CHOOSE a 20 MPG BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, [insert your favorite high-end import here] car. Regardless of the immediate economics, fossil fuels (natural gas included) are a limited world resource. It is only inevitable, a question of when, not if, we make the transition to EV.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.