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Chevy Volt: The Beginning of the End?

January 23, 2012 by Matt

Chevy Volt Rear Silver Gray Grey

Left Lane reports today that many Chevy dealerships have been turning away shipments of the automaker’s much-hyped Volt:

Dealers across the country are cutting back on their Volt orders, largely due to the NHTSA’s investigation that has scared off potential buyers. The federal investigation was launched late last year after three crash-tested Volt models unexpectedly caught fire.

The article offers its theory for the decline in orders, and I’m sure that’s a part of it, just as Toyota’s bad publicity last year over their largely debunked “unintended acceleration” glitches, but in the Volt’s case, I’d conjecture there’s more rotten with the car than has been uncovered by the NHTSA investigation.

It’s not that there’s anything further technically amiss with the American hybrid, it’s the concept, the idea that enough buyers would be driven by misguided environmental concern to shell out twice as much for a car less usable and less efficient (in the real world) than another vehicle offered by the very same automaker—a car, by the way, that’s been selling like gangbusters; in its first year on the market, it claimed 9th place in the 2011 best-selling vehicle rankings.

As the fog of hybrid hype recedes, outliers like the Volt and Nissan Leaf are looking increasingly isolated, and automakers are starting to get a taste of whether buyers, past the initial sales rush, are willing to move in the direction of pure electric vehicles in quantities that would make them profitable. As the Volt’s misfortunes remind us, at this point, the answer seems to be a resounding no.

Filed under: Alternative Propulsion, Chevrolet, News

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