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Picking Up the Pieces: GM looks to Recharge Chevy Volt's Reputation

By Joel Arellano | January 24, 2012
Two steps forward, one step back. Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officially closed its investigation on the Chevrolet Volt. As reported for months, the federal agency had been investigating the Volt's battery system, which could catch fire under certain circumstances, all of which occurred under test conditions. Now parent company General Motors looks to repair the damage to the Volt and the brand in general in the wake of the investigation. Though most Volt owners were seemingly blasé about the issue, some Chevrolet dealerships are wary of purchasing more Volt hybrid electric cars. Lower than expected sales of the Chevy Volt have also discouraged dealers. Says Alan Baum of analysis firm Baum & Associates, "It’s not unlike a story that’s written that says somebody has committed a murder, and the next day they say, 'Oh they didn’t, sorry.'" The hit to the Chevrolet Volt's reputation goes beyond just the vehicle. Both the Volt and the all-electric Nissan Leaf were the first tangible results of President Obama's vision of one million EVs sparking around America's roadways by 2015. Pike Research, a market research firm, reports that buyer interest in plug-in vehicles like the Volt and Leaf was 48 percent in 2009. That figure then dropped to 44 percent in 2010 and 40 percent at the end of last year. Such falling figures could not only affect the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf's future sales, but new plug-in vehicles like the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and Telsa S Sedan which are scheduled to go on sale sometime this year. Chevrolet's other vehicles may also take a hit, sales-wise, as well. Continues Baum: "This (Volt) is a reputation car. They (GM) want people to look at General Motors positively and not necessarily buy a Volt but buy a Cruze or buy a Malibu. I think they’ll spend a lot of money to make that case." Automotive.com's take: We don't think the NHTSA's investigation will significantly impact the Volt's sales potential. A bigger concern is the Volt's price tag, which starts just below $40,000 before government discounts and rebates. That price becomes even more of a focus to consumer as a spat of less-costly, non-hybrid, non-electric, fuel-efficient vehicles hit the dealerships and roads over the coming decades. Do you think the NHTSA investigation of the Chevrolet Volt's battery system affected it—and GM's—reputation? As always, let us know in the comments below. Source: Bloomberg
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2 comments
joela
joela

Uh, never saw that coming, Me.

Me
Me

Don't you love the way Chevy is advertising prostitution and female bondage in their commercials to promote human trafficking. You know the pick up commercial with the boy playing with dolls and the one doll welcomes the young child home in a dominatrix leather outfit. So Chevy thinks women are whores, keep that in mind when buying your next car for your daughter. Nice going young ad execs. Got any ruffies?

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