Published August 30, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
Yes, that's Volt – a Holden-badged one shuttling through the Australian GM division's headquarters lobby. When the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly line re-starts after Oct. 12, it will be ready for fourth-quarter production of Volts for down under.
A couple days ago General Motors said it would idle the Detroit-Hamtramck plant where Volts are exclusively built, prompting some critics to again weigh in on perceived low sales numbers, but GM still expects to set a new sales high this month.
We’ll know soon enough for the month ending tomorrow, but GM’s Volt Communications Representative Michelle Malcho today confirmed reports “while it’s still too early to tell how the numbers will go,” the company’s August Volt sales will beat its previous record by around 10 percent or more.
“All I can say for certain is that it will be over 2,500 at this point,” Malcho said.
The present Volt sales record was set in March at 2,289 units, and this was a high-water mark above the 1,849 second-place set last month in July – and a good sized jump above the sub-2,000 unit per month numbers logged this year.
For your review, the numbers of Volts sold from the end of last year through this are: December: 1,529; January: 603, February: 1,023; March: 2,289; April: 1,429; May: 1,680, June: 1,760, July 1,849.
Malcho told us the other day the Volt was seeing “month-over-month increases, and indeed this is true this month and then some. We asked if GM thus expected to have month-over month sales the rest of the year?
“We should continue to see sales as we have for the past few months,” she said, but it’s “hard to tell if we will see progressive growth at this time.”
Malcho also told the Detroit News GM is especially seeing sales momentum in key markets – California, Michigan, Illinois and Florida.
She noted also this being the Volt’s second year, it will beat the historic second year for the first-generation Toyota Prius. The Prius sold 15,600 units in all of 2001, but two-thirds of the way through the year, the Volt will exceed 13,300 units through August, with four more months to add to that number.
Critics have however repeatedly pointed out previous sales goals far exceeding the present numbers as proof that the Volt is a failure.
It is true that GM was optimistic in early projections, and the Volt has sold fewer than were first forecast, but the car is leading the plug-in electric category, and scoring consistent numbers.
It also recently sold more units in one month than a favorite of GM’s stable, the Corvette, but no one seems to lambaste that car's sales nearly so much as they do the Volt’s. But then we've covered some of the reasons why this is so, before. /p>
Actually – and just to update the critics – since the beginning of this year GM ceased making round-number sales predictions, and says it will “match supply to demand,” and this it has done
Malcho said the Detroit-Hamtramck plant “built ahead” Volt inventories to prevent shortages.
We asked if this therefore meant GM expected to probably have no shortages at the dealer level.
“We shouldn't have any shortages,” she said. “A few dealers based on allocation may not have as much of a selection as they would like, but we have enough inventory.”
And speaking of dealers that will have supply, the Volt assembly line will begin producing Holden Volts beginning the fourth quarter of this year. From Nov. 1 onwards, Holden’s 49 Volt dealers will begin selling the Australian versions of the Volt for $59,995 AUD.
The Australian GM division has been running advertisements, generating interest for the green plug-in car, and has said it will be “a new kind of flagship for Holden.”
We shall see how sales go down under where they pay more for cars than we do, and at least for certain is this will be another pocket of demand to add to the global cars being exported – for now – from Detroit.
The Volt is also sold as an Opel Ampera in Europe and Vauxhall Ampera in the UK. Everywhere the plug-in GM been made available, reports of steadily growing interest have followed, even if it has not, as critics like to say, taken the world (yet) by storm.