Kill the Volt?

Dave Herron asks should GM kill the Volt, revamp the Volt, or stand its ground?

Published: 23-Jan-2012

You may have noticed a hyped-up controversy attached to the Chevy Volt, the current round of which is the battery pack fire plus side issues like the amount of federal support behind the Volt. The controversy, irregardless of whether there's a real danger, is causing some to suggest that GM should kill the Chevy Volt because it has become a public relations burden. This really raises the question of which direction GM should take, and the direction other car-makers are taking.

An example of the "Should GM kill the Volt" perspective is a Motley Fool article today with that title. It's argument is that GM isn't making much money on the Volt, not many Volt's are being sold. Toyota is selling a zillion more Prius models than the Volt and the Chevy Volt doesn't stack up well against competitor vehicles, and there's the public relations problem. While this line of reasoning has some truth, it's eerily like a replay of the bashing the Prius received when it was first introduced. Go back in time 11 years or so, and you'll see complaints about Toyota losing money on each Prius they sold, how nobody wanted one, then step forward a couple years from that to the Gen2 Prius which sold like hotcakes to make it a highly successful car. A car, by the way, which some still bash.

In part this situation is one of colliding cultural viewpoints that date back to the 1970's oil crises. Those crises led to a wave of highly efficient cars, solar panels on the roof of the White House, and even a decrease in oil consumption. That pattern lasted for a few years until Reagan was elected, removed the White House solar panels, and told us all to go back to driving SUV's.

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