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  • Chevy Volt Lost in the Green "Field of Dreams"

    “If you build it, they will come,” an ominous voice called out to Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, in the movie Field of Dreams. For Kinsella, the “it” was a baseball field in the middle of a farm in Iowa—and despite all the naysayers, the starry-eyed young father put his family’s fortunes on the line in pursuit of his crazy dream.

    Eventually, “they” came—the ghosts of the disgraced 1919 Chicago White Sox team and carloads of fans from miles away—and Kinsella’s “knight of faith” reliance on the mysterious voice paid off. Unfortunately for President Obama and General Motors, the dream of creating an electric car revolution is not being realized, and the positive results are about as tangible as the apparitions of eight dead baseball players.

    About one year ago, General Motors began producing sleek, highly marketed, battery-powered Chevy Volts—whose $41,000 price tag is being offset with a taxpayer-funded $7,500 tax subsidy. But last year, only 7,671 Volts were sold, falling well short of the 10,000 that GM expected to sell. To make matters worse, GM was forced to recall all of those vehicles to make modifications to keep them safe during crashes. Now, after the dim year of poor sales, car dealers are starting to rebel and don’t want to put the cars on their lots. Jalopnik reports:

    Now we’re hearing reports of dealers who don’t want to buy the cars from GM because customers just aren’t materializing for the Volt.

    Automotive News gives an example this morning in the New York City market where last month, GM allocated 104 Volts to 14 dealerships in the area and dealers took just 31 of them, the lowest take rate for any Chevy model in that market last month. That group of dealers ordered more than 90% of the other vehicles they were eligible to take.…

    In Clovis, Calif., Brett Hedrick, dealer principal at Hedrick’s Chevrolet, sold ten Volts last year. But in December and January he turned down all six Volts allocated to him under GM’s “turn-and-earn” system, which distributes vehicles based on past sales volumes and inventory levels. GM’s “thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy,” Hedrick said to Automotive News. “We’ve never sold more than two in a month.” Hedrick says he usually takes just about every vehicle that GM allocates to him.

    With dealers opting to not stock the cars, Jalopnik writes that GM no longer plans on meeting their Volt production targets for 2012—apparently supply and demand matters to the company. Bear in mind that electric cars like the Volt are a “critical element in President Obama’s long-term plan to break our dependence on foreign oil,” as Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained. What’s more, the President predicted that electric cars would help create thousands of new jobs with surging demand for the vehicles, all while pumping some $5 billion in taxpayer funds into the electric-car industry. But even those subsidies aren’t enough to stoke the demand for the product.

    Politicians can deliver speeches, set goals, and subsidize; likewise, companies can build products and market them to consumers. But at the end of the day, they can’t force people to buy. “Build it and they will come” might have worked for Ray Kinsella, but it doesn’t always work in the free market. Supply matters, but only if there’s a demand to go with it.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Chevy Volt Lost in the Green "Field of Dreams"

    1. Rich says:

      Brownfield's closing statement says "but at the end of the day, they can't force people to buy." Can't they? Health care and the 100 watt fluorescent light bulb suggests otherwise. Welcome to the new world order and be prepared to buy a volt one day too.

    2. Matthew W says:

      And yet, didn't Motortrend call the volt "car Of The Year" for 2011??

      • tom343 says:

        And why would they do this (Motortrend) unless some outside agency made them do so? At best the Volt universe is too small for this magazine to make a judgement.

    3. Bobbie says:

      And if you think about it, it wasn't the influence of government that built Ray Kinsella's dream. Nor did he infringe on the government to steal from the tax payers to help him out. He was in full control of his responsibilities that fulfilled his dream. And in real life you can put that on the majority of American dreams. To mention familiar and current recognition, Mitt Romney. I don't care how many loop holes the government gives, still makes him a lawful business man that did a lot for this country as a whole. Newt cost the country a lot through his previous positions that carried out recklessly and irresponsibly.

      • Lloyd Scallan says:

        Bobby – This article is about the Volt and Obama's distortions. It't not about the Republican race. If you like Romney good for you. But don't do as Obama, distort the truth about Newt or any other candidate on a site that is not a platform to indorse your candidate

        • Bobbie says:

          not sure where I distorted Newt? Fannie and Freddie cost us unfair amounts of tax increasing, man made global warming is on his conscience and one payer health care is a scary thing. My comment was mostly in reference to a dream that doesn't take stealing from tax payers or infringing on anyone else to fulfill!

          My pick is Ron Paul. My comment had nothing to do with endorsing, silly! I hope you'll pardon me but, go Ron Paul!!

    4. Bobbie says:

      The government subjects have given thumbs down with the usual cowardice not to challenge. Poor little things…

    5. The Chevy Volt launched nationally on 11/1/2011. That was 83 days ago. For the majority of 2011, the car was sold in 6 states out of 50.

      Way too early to predict demand v. supply nationally.

      So far, the Volt has represented almost $400,000,000 in revenue. It is projected that by late March, this number will climb to $1,000,000,000. A Billion dollars in trailing twelve months revenue for a completely new car concept is not trivial.

      The Volt has the highest customer satisfaction of any car according to Consumer Reports. Those who test drive Volts almost universally walk away impressed.

      Ford and Toyota have already announced "copy cat" vehicles to the Volt. If its concept was such a bad idea, why would GMs two biggest competitors follow GMs lead?

      Even Audi, whose CEO called the Volt a "car for idiots" a couple of years ago… now has plans for an entire line of "cars for idiots" called "e-tron".

    6. O2BMe says:

      I would not want a car that I didn't feel was safe on the highway on a windy day. I also would not want to wait a half hour to charge it. And what is green about it? How do you think we generate electricity.

    7. Eric Edelen says:

      I am completely amazed at peoples' inability to calculate TOTAL ownership costs which include GAS. I have owned my Volt since July and have saved almost $1000.00 in TOTAL ownership costs verses my previous gas guzzling car.

      Yes… my car payment is huge, but my gasoline/electricity costs are about $24.00/mo. (Hello!)

      I am charging my Volt using electricity produced at our LOCAL hydroelectric dam. (True ZERO emissions)

      And performance? This car freaking moves! I will say it's more FUN to drive than any other car I've ever owned…including my 65 Chevelle with a souped up 327 V8 with a four barrel double pumper and four speed manual quick shifter.

      Additionally, I have redirected about $3200.00 away from foreign oil exporting countries to either Detroit or my local electric utility where my buddies work. What is wrong with this country that we cannot support a brilliant new marvel of engineering that simultaneously benefits our personal/collective economy and the air we breath?

      • Bobbie says:

        boy, you must be getting old to pick an electric guzzler with gas back up, over a souped up chevelle! This country is a beautiful place when people are free to live and make their own choices without the controlled influence of paid government. None of this is worth chancing speculation of cleaner air. Electricity pollutes and floods the grid. How much personal information did you have to provide to get your rebate check?

        To each his own. Drive safe!!

      • Kirk says:

        So when you are done driving your eco – friendly vehicle where do you think the batteries that powered that car are going? They are headed to a hazardous waste dump, where hopfully the leakage from the batteries won't ruin our drinking water.

    8. @thebilllong says:

      Ramping from $400M to a $Billion in a few months seems like a tall order. That's also a lot of $7,500 tax breaks, unless GE is buying the bulk of them. (GE committed to a huge fleet buy; maybe that accounts for the huge ramp-up.) I saw one up close (in the showroom) and thought it was pretty nice, but at 3,700 pounds, it's a bit heavy. And it's just as clean as wherever the coal came from to make the electricity. But I might still buy one to avoid the gas waiting lines and rationing that's coming, if the economy ever picks up.

    9. Rody says:

      Obama will take care of producing demand with $5-6 gasoline and have the media call him a hero.

    10. Mike says:

      Failed experiment (once again) by (professor Obama) barack… But a very expensive "teaching moment" for us tax payers.

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