General Motors On Chevy Volt: “It’s Not A Mass Market Vehicle”

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 89

Next-Gen Chevy Volt Teaser

Next-Gen Chevy Volt Teaser

But Apparently The Volt Doesn't Run As Deep

But Apparently The Volt Doesn’t Run As Deep

Houston, we’ve got a problem.

“There’s a Northeast and West Coast market for Volt, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Either General Motors is trying to down play the next-generation Chevrolet Volt or GM is reconsidering its position on the world’s most advanced plug-in vehicle.

Chevrolet Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney told the auto industry that General Motors considers Volt “not a mass market” vehicle anymore.  Mahoney made this statement in Traverse City, Michigan at an auto industry seminar where GM showed the first teaser of the next-gen 2016 Volt.

Here’s the rest of what Mahoney stated:

“It’s an impressive product in its design, performance and technology.  It’s a real halo for the brand. It’s done a tremendous amount to conquest new buyers, and they have [high] incomes like Corvette buyers. Customer satisfaction is through the roof.

“But the reality is that there’s a finite market for Volt, and it’s geographical. California is the epicenter; it’s not about selling Volt in Oklahoma. And we’ve gotten smarter about deploying resources for the vehicle.

“There’s a Northeast and West Coast market for Volt, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  That’s the beauty of having a broad portfolio of products. But it’s not a mass-market vehicle.”

If GM sticks with this “not a mass market” approach, then we can be certain that sales won’t improve.

In recent years, GM has all but given up on marketing the Chevrolet Volt and, as such, sales have become stagnant.

We’d like to believe that the next-gen Volt will be the vehicle that catapults the plug-in segment, but if GM feels there’s not mass-market appeal, then it’s a guarantee that production volume will be low, marketing will be light and quite likely the price-point won’t be as sharp as had been expected – potentially leading to a sales volume less than we’d expect to see.

Certainly the Volt (with seating for 5…we hope) has mass-market appeal written all over it, but that won’t matter if GM doesn’t get behind it.

We’re not at all thrilled by Mahoney’s statement.  It sort of makes us wonder if GM is partially backing out of the plug-in segment, but perhaps we’re reading too much into these comments.  So, we ask, what are your thoughts?

Mahoney Discussing Next-Gen Volt

Mahoney Discussing Next-Gen Volt

Source: Forbes

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89 responses to "General Motors On Chevy Volt: “It’s Not A Mass Market Vehicle”"

  1. sven says:

    This sucks!

    Same old GM. They’ll never change. 🙁

    1. Sivad says:

      Yeah, unbelievable. If the v2 Volt has five seats with more room and a lower price then it is absolutely a mass market car. It would then be comparable in price to the Prius but superior in almost all metrics. And by the way, there are Priuses in Oklahoma. Jeesh.

      1. Bonaire says:

        Hint for GM – Take pre-orders for it now and see how the “demand” is. I bet they can book thousands of pre-orders. But let ALL dealerships take the orders, not just those in the program.

      2. liberty says:

        There really aren’t that many of prii sold in OK. Texas yes, California of course, florida sure. No reason to please the OK buyer. Its not just the coasts though, there should be a market in michigan, Ill, and Minisota.

        I think stating something that is a fact should not be a problem. I hope volt gen II sells much better than gen I, but the top 10 states are going to buy over 90% of them.

        1. SIvad says:

          I get that. They don’t have to please them, but just because they are thinking it doesn’t mean they have to open their mouths and say it. Why alienate anyone. The worst marketing strategy for any product is to be defensive and apologetic. Just be positive and try to sell the damn thing.

        2. SIvad says:

          Came across this. Interesting that Oklahoma is not actually at the bottom of the list of Prii owners per capita. It is actually above Texas and even Georgia. In fact it is practically tied with New York.

          http://priuschat.com/threads/prii-per-capita-by-state.87972/

          Either way it goes back to the idea that GM needs to hire a real marketing group to sell the Volt.

    2. Bonaire says:

      He says: “But the reality is that there’s a finite market for Volt, and it’s geographical. California is the epicenter; it’s not about selling Volt in Oklahoma. And we’ve gotten smarter about deploying resources for the vehicle.”

      The issue is Dealerships. Not the market itself. There are dealers around major metro areas which are in the outlying areas, like mine, who are out of the Volt program because they didn’t buy the service tools required ($10,000 or more). They were selling 2-3 per year and felt the new service tool requirement wasn’t worth it. Drivers who commute 30-50 miles from suburban and rural locations are the primary market for Volt and EREVs. Great mileage for them where they can possibly plug in at work and get 80+ electric miles per day.

      No market? Small dealership support is the problem.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        Well, he’s right, of course. I mean, why on Earth would anyone who lives near a sprawling city in the Midwest, with their reasonable climates and cheap electricity want a Volt? It’s not like it’s enjoyable to drive and driving on the plug improves the ownership experience, or anything.

        They’re simply doing everything they can to put people off, at least for now.

      2. VFanRJ says:

        You have to wonder if anyone at the management or executive level has gone out in the field and purchased Volts to see first hand how effective their Go-To-Market is? They would see that only a small percentage of their dealers know anything about the car or can talk effectively about its value.

  2. GSP says:

    I would not read too much into these statements. GM builds a great vehicle, but did not get the sales numbers that they hoped. The mass market is not ready to plug in….yet.

    GSP

    1. James says:

      There IS a mass market for Volt. GM just throws money to ad guys to sell a car the ad agency AND most of the bean counters don’t understand. First off, they don’t understand the market for Volt is the same as the Prius market. This is why I believe they are putting out 2 versions of v.2 Volt – a 20 mile Prius-priced version, and a 40-50 mile version. And YES, both versions absolutely need a 3-across back seat.

      Give those ad dollars to people who understand Volt’s market – NOT ad guys who do focus groups and swing in the dark. The absolute idiocy of their ad campaigns were just money to the wind!

      Go to Priuschat.com to see how many Prius owners checked out the Volt – and some bought one. GM didn’t get the word out that a Prius buyer needs to cross-shop a Volt. Go to a Motor Trend article “Plug-In Prius vs. Volt” that they ran over a year ago and read the comments below. So many people speak falsehoods about the Volt – GM didn’t do their due diligence to put Volts facts out there. The price will be closer to a Prius – the car handles better and lacks Prius’ weaknesses of poor ride, handling and constant switching on and off of the gas engine. After all, Prius purchasers bought a car to get off of gas. Volt does a better job of it. If Volt v.2 gets better CS mode mileage than before…hopefully, over 40mpg ( it should due to improved aero Cd. new 3 cylinder, lighter, aluminum-block range-extender and lighter steel in key areas ).

      GM seems to be downplaying Volt v.2 either to sneak up on Toyota and all the other hybrids – or, they are literally too stupid to know what they have.

      1. VFanRJ says:

        This a called bottoms up marketing. Subaru doesn’t to find customers that are a good fit for their cars. GM needs the same approach for the Volt.

        1. VFanRJ says:

          Correction.

          Subaru does this…

  3. Josh says:

    He might be right, the current Volt, at its current price, is not mass market. A cheaper Volt with seating for 5 and a Voltec CUV at the current Volt price, would be mass market.

    It would eat into their other (more profitable) SUV sales, but if they don’t cannibalize themselves, someone else will.

    1. yuba says:

      The only think which keeps it from being mass market is the price.
      Take 10k of the sales price, and it will be mass market. Sounds like a lot but I think with the rapid battery cost decline it is possible.
      Smaller 3-cilinder engine will help too.

    2. Spec9 says:

      But he fails to see into THE FUTURE. He is looking backward.

  4. DaveMart says:

    I’m not surprised that GM with its emphasis on the next quarter is getting cold feet.

    As I indicated in another thread, they initially projected 65,000 a year sales for Volt 1, with Volt II picking up from that and hitting really high numbers.

    That did not happen, and the Volt must have cost GM a bucket load, as missing production targets especially for new technology is very expensive with capital equipment not amortised etc.

    I’m betting they probably thought like many of us that fuel prices would go up to the region of $5/gal, which would mean that they could sell all the Volt’s they could make at a good price.

    That didn’t happen, and there is no sign that it will happen.

    So Volt II starts from a lower sales base, and in a tight market where fuel prices are not high enough to encourage a major switch.

    GM is run on limited time horizons, and in my view with their relatively high AER and consequently rather large battery have made the wrong engineeering choices to compete fiercly on car price without high fuel prices.

    Toyota who think long term and are managed by the guy who brought us the Prius have chosen a very low AER, which some here don’t approve of but which is also very economic on a long run as well as providing substantial fuel savings on short runs.

    Almost everyone else has chosen a 22 mile-ish AER, which is compliant with Chinese and European regulations and targets which are set in a co-ordinated manner between the two.

    VW/Audi has had more ups and downs in its relationship to electrification than Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had in their marriage, but underneath daft press releases their technological development has chugged along, and they are now in a position to economically offer PHEV as well as BEV and NG versions in short production runs on any model they care too.

    GM has not got the platforms engineered to compete economically and is still back in the days of having to purpose engineer a new platform etc for Volt II.

    That sort of engineering costs a lot of money, and with the likely sales projections and the price of petrol and the price they can expect to sell the car for it would sadden but not surprise me if it were cancelled, or more likely produced in token numbers.

    1. Lindsay Patten says:

      Slightly off-topic but brought up by your mention of Toyota strategy, I have wondered how the 200k car/manufacturer limit on incentives affects strategy. Say we have two car companies, let’s call one Nissan, and the other Toyota. Say Nissan decides to lead the industry in BEVs and invests early while Toyota decides they will wait for Nissan to create the market before coming out with their BEV models. 20XX rolls around and Nissan uses up it’s 200k quota, that same month Toyota launches the TEAF, a BEV that is a functional clone of the LEAF and has the same sticker price. A consumer now has the choice of buying a LEAF at $X or a TEAF at $X – $7500. It seems likely Toyota will basically take over the market that Nissan built. In theory Nissan will have built up some competitive advantage through its several years of experience producing the LEAF but will it have a $7500 per car advantage? Even if Nissan can manufacture LEAFS for $5000 less than Toyota can manufacture TEAFS Toyota can sell the TEAF at $X + $5000 and the post incentive price will still be $2500 cheaper.

      It seems to me that the way the incentives are structured he who enters the market last likely wins. Am I missing something? It seems to me that to encourage manufacturers to produce BEVs sooner rather than later there should be a single pool of incentives so that manufacturers have to compete with one another to get the incentives while they last rather than knowing that the incentives will be their waiting for them no matter how long they wait and that waiting may give them a future advantage in a more mature market.

      Essentially Nissan is using the incentive to lure buyers away from ICE cars while once the market is established Toyota can use the incentive to lure buyers away from Nissan.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        While its not laid out anywhere, it is practically a given that the credits will be given a sunset date once any of the OEMs get close to the threshold. In fact, they might not even last long enough to see that day.

        There is no way the US will punish Nissan, GM and Tesla for getting the job done, and the government will be all too happy to take the credit away – it is a monster revenue drain.

        Slightly off topic: I am quite sure if the federal credit was a “rebate” system it would already be gone…being a “credit” it does accrue the same kind of public accounting/scrutiny as the credit does. For some reason a ‘dollar not earned’ isn’t looked at the same as a ‘dollar spent’.

        1. pjwood says:

          It may also be safe to say the manufacturers haven’t exactly “gamed” the tax-credit. The policies of different global regions, and their potentially short-lived nature, makes tailoring cars for them impractical.

          1. Lindsay Patten says:

            I’m not sure I would use the word “gaming” but I don’t think we would have EVs on the market if it weren’t for the combination of incentives and CARB. Here in New Brunswick there are no incentives and close to no EVs.

            1. Lindsay Patten says:

              Actually, I overstated that, I don’t think any of the big car makers would be offering an EV without the incentives and mandates.

        2. Lindsay Patten says:

          “While its not laid out anywhere, it is practically a given that the credits will be given a sunset date once any of the OEMs get close to the threshold. In fact, they might not even last long enough to see that day.”

          I hope you are right, but it raises the question: why was the legislation written the way it was?

          1. Jay Cole says:

            Well, it actually was…but it got hastily re-written.

            The federal credit was originally planned to not only make EVs more accessible to the American citizen, but to accelerate the process as fast as possible.

            The problem was that some of the OEMs didn’t like the “first 250,000 EVs get the credit then it sunsets” language …so it was re-written as “200,000 per OEM”.

            The assumption since then has always been it will be in jeopardy/ended once anyone gets close/hits the sunset period or at the end of this election cycle, whichever comes first.

        3. ClarksonCote says:

          Hope you’re right Jay, otherwise the incentives penalize the companies on the forefront.

      2. jkw says:

        Actually, I believe this means that the car manufacturers benefit by skipping the PHEV. Toyota is probably going to use up all of its credits on the plug-in Prius, and won’t have any left when they finally release a BEV. Assuming current trends continue (and that Toyota doesn’t limit PiP sales), I actually expect Toyota to hit 200k plug in cars before any of the other car makers. The Prius is a popular car, but with the tax credit, it is hard to justify buying a gas-only Prius instead of a plug-in. If Toyota is willing to make them, they can probably sell >5k plug-ins a month.

      3. Brian says:

        I’ve wondered the same thing, and agree that a single pool of incentive money is a much better way to encourage aggressive competition.

      4. DaveMart says:

        Company attitude to tailoring what they offer to get incentives varies.
        It looks as though BMW did that very much by going for Californian compliance regardless of how much it impacted practicality, with their absurdly small petrol tank for the RE.
        I think that bending over backwards for incentives is more apparent than real though, as my take is that the i3 is really designed for the next generation of batteries, which will give it perhaps a 40-80% greater range, and the RE is expected to disappear.

        If they are going to alter their fundamental designs to comply with regulations, it will be for China/Europe, as they develop their regulation and emission strategy in concert, and together form a way bigger percentage of the global market for cars than the US, although of course California was an early leader in alternative fuel cars.

        That leader in percentage terms is now Norway, but they aren’t going to design their cars for Norway, and they aren’t going to design cars just because present regulations in California or even the US favour them.

        Toyota in particular does not seem to alter its strategy much in order to pick up credits.

        It ignored the bigger credits available for bigger batteries in the US, and built the plug in Prius with the battery size it reckoned made most sense, even though the tax credits for a time at least made that perhaps not the most economic choice of battery size in the US.

        The tax credits for batteries of course were specifically set to favour GM as a US manufacturer, and it would be pretty daft of any foreign company to hope that US companies would not in any case be favoured in any future legislation, so they might as well carry on and build what they think is best for the world market.

        In the same way Toyota have been developing fuel cell cars since 1992 and so hardly did it with a mind to getting ZEV credits, although those are very welcome.

        To sum up car companies have to develop cars over a longer time frame than politicians work to, and so can’t fundamentally alter what they are trying to do solely for compliance reasons.

        But if anyone is going to set the agenda in that way, it will be China/Europe, not the US.
        That is why there are umpteen cars with a 50km AER on the NEDC cycle coming.

        1. Mart says:

          The fact that the Plug-in Prius is unable to qualify for the full $7,500 battery tax credit is not an issue for the majority of its buyers, who do not pay $7,500 worth of federal income tax in a year. Many dealerships price their plug-ins to reflect the tax credits, only to turn off customers who find the car is really $6,500 more expensive than advertised.

    2. GeorgeS says:

      @David

      Ask yourself this question:

      Where would the Prius be today if GM had invented it?

      1. Mike says:

        With our Oil Lobby Controlled Congress: DEAD.

    3. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Well, Toyota’s PiP strategy was to
      a) help meet ZEV and
      b) screw the fanbois in the process by selling it at a ridiculously high price.

      Toyota failed miserably on the 2nd part and quickly had to introduce large incentives.

    4. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      And you really haven’t been paying attention. GM’s very serious about the electrification, as evidenced by their investments in battery research and US electric drivetrain production.

      Volt 2 is definitely not going to be canceled, but right now GM’s focus is on lowering the base cost of the Volt. Until they achieve much lower base cost, they’re going to anti-sell the Volt so they don’t use up the 200k+1y and then have sales and leases fall off a cliff.

  5. David Murray says:

    Perhaps they are just trying to cover themselves. If they say it isn’t a mass market vehicle, but it sells really well. Great. But if they say it IS a mass market vehicle and does NOT sell really well, then the media will be pointing fingers and saying it is a failure.

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      One can only hope.

  6. Curtis Ling says:

    outlander phev is a mass market car

    1. Um, Mitsubishi is not mass market anything. GM almost sells more Volts/year than Mitsu sells of all their cars combined in the U.S.

  7. It sounds like GM is falling back to regulatory compliance sates. While the Zero Emission Vehicles get much of the limelight in these compliance issues, the regulations allow for hybrids like the Volt to accomplish some of the compliance.

    The auto manufacturers were unsuccessful in stopping CARB when they sued EPA (see below) to only allow ZEV sales in California (except hydrogen, which is exempt and therefore will only be sold in California).

    So, they absolutley need to sell a hybrid (or cover all the requirements with ZEV) and the Volt is clearly it so far.

    ********

    Auto manufacturer’s Oct 19, 2012 request to EPA for waiver from CARB:

    http://www.globalautomakers.org/sites/default/files/document/attachments/JointCommentsCAWaiverRequest10-19-12.pdf

    “It is highly unlikely that the required infrastructure and the level of consumer demand for ZEVs will be sufficient by MY2018 in either California or in the individual Section 177 States to support the ZEV sales requirements mandated by CARB. EPA should therefore deny, at the present time, California’s waiver request for the ZEV program for these model years. During the interim, Global Automakers and the Alliance believe that California and EPA, with full auto industry participation, should implement a review for the ZEV program similar to the mid-term review process adopted under the federal GHG and CAFE regulations for MYs2017 through 2025.”

    That’s a whole lot of gobbledy goop to say, “keep the traveling provision so we can only sell cars in California at the minimum number, and not sell any in the other CARB states.” They lost that argument.

    CARB state coalition – California, New York, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    The eight states combined account for 23 percent of U.S. vehicle sales, according to California’s Air Resources.

    1. pjwood says:

      Tony, You are right. And I think the car is too successful in the Southeast for Mahoney’s comment to be accurate. They show positioning. I don’t think it has as much to do with “under-selling” expectations, as it does simple profitability. It’s more skin off your back if you sell more cars, for less profit, than if you join the chorus, put a ~200mi battery in a car few would drive 200 miles, and then let it look like there’s no natural demand while you make statements akin to “they made us do it”.

      On the positive side, mention of the conquest buyers could portend something to keep them. It is so important for GM to get to the moment when they say “We can make money doing these, that won’t stick around if we dont”. That is what it will take to break the negative pitch, buyers who’ll walk.

  8. kdawg says:

    The statements:

    “But the reality is that there’s a finite market for Volt, and it’s geographical. California is the epicenter; it’s not about selling Volt in Oklahoma. And we’ve gotten smarter about deploying resources for the vehicle.

    “There’s a Northeast and West Coast market for Volt, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s the beauty of having a broad portfolio of products. But it’s not a mass-market vehicle.”

    These statements do not make sense when you look at the population distribution of the US. The mass-market vehicles WOULD BE sold in the West Coast and Northeast.

  9. mrenergyczar says:

    They’re using a self-handicapping technique so that when sales rise it can’t be spun in a negative way, didn’t sell 120,000 units etc… if they say it will be mass market and it doesn’t become one, they’ll get hammered…

  10. Tummy says:

    Price is not the issue. The average selling price of new cars in the US is $32,086. So the Volt is there, especially after tax credits.

    I think it’s the unconventional design, strange ergonomics in the interior and seating limitations.

    1. kdawg says:

      The starting base price needs to start with a “2” to put in on people’s radar. What happens after that….

    2. Lou Grinzo says:

      I think the Volt’s problems are a perfect case of “all of the above”. In other words, it’s both a matter of price and the details of the car itself.

      No one on this site sees the Volt as being particularly “different” or “weird” or a “risky purchase”, but many car buyers in the US do. I mean, it has a freakin’ plug AND it takes gas — how weird is that??? (If you think this is an unfair characterization, talk to people in the real world about PHEVs, and you’ll see I’m right. If you want to amuse and depress yourself, have the same conversation about BEVs, something my Leaf and I have experienced numerous times.)

      A $25k (pre-kickback) Volt would sell well, since people would be willing to learn about and adapt to its (very minor) differences because of the attractive price. At its current price it appeals to the early adopters, like us, but breaking into the mainstream is still a challenge.

  11. GeorgeS says:

    GM just can’t wait to cancel the Volt.

    Why are they bothering with Gen2 ??

    It is this kind of performance that makes Volt owners like myself and kdawg and scottf200 leave GM.

    Why should we bother supporting a company that has no interest in supporting electrification?

    Might as well throw our support to a company that actually makes an effort like Nissan or Tesla.

    Totally disgusting.

    Somebody fire this fat ass Mahoney.

    1. Regulus Black says:

      +1

      I give my dollars to companies that push the technology. I love my Leaf and will likely get a new one in 2017 (or a Tesla model III).

    2. Grant Gerke says:

      Yep. That’s some American leadership GM, eh?

      Just a thought…but shouldn’t you let consumers define your product GM?

    3. Stuart22 says:

      Poor George, a victim of GM’s latest insult. Big bad GM says his Volt is not a mainstream car. Then what is it?

      The car is what it is. And what it is, is perfectly suited for a good part of mainstream America, irregardless of what this guy said. By the way, he also called the Volt a ‘plug-in hybrid’ which I thought was rather newsworthy, coming from an upper level GM rep.

      Once again – the Volt is not a two seat performance car, it is a family sedan. From a company that is continually criticized beyond reason. They are not perfect – they haven’t yet proven they know how to market the Volt very effectively, which is certainly their contribution to whatever truth there is to not connecting with mainstream buyers, but really now. Give them a break – there is nothing to fear, and much excitement to come.

      The Volt is worth every penny you and I and many others have put up for it, and I have no doubt that it’s only going to get better.

  12. AddLightness says:

    Wasn’t a main reason for designing the Volt as an EREV with a range extender to make it a mass market vehicle? lol

    1. Aaron says:

      They backed away from making it an EREV so its highway mileage would be better. Now if that doesn’t scream “we’re trying to make a mass-market vehicle”, I don’t know what does.

  13. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    I wonder what the GM fanboys over at gm-volt.com will say about this one.. What a disappointment. Still, I’ll give the next-gen a look, if they deign to sell them in Texas.

    1. Breezy says:

      Well, I’m not a GM fanboy, I’m a Volt fanboy – Big difference 🙂

      That’s GM’s problem – they can easily lose us to Tesla or others if they don’t deliver on electrification.

  14. ffbj says:

    To me GM exhibits some of problems of bigness.
    Resistant to innovation and change, stuck in old ways of doing things and an archaic business model. Many branches and divisions working on their own projects, where resources of talent, materials, time, and money are spent just because we have always done it that way ,and we know what works.
    Lack of a unified vision, ala Tesla, (a bit of an unfair comparison). GM even has a group studying Tesla’a methodology, a delicious irony, since they could not, even if they wanted too, adapt the behemoth GM to the streamlined Tesla. No matter. To turn around a common phrase they are: ‘Too big to succeed.’

    1. Scramjett says:

      +1

      I think you nailed it on the head!

    2. donald says:

      FFBJ. spot on comment

  15. ClarksonCote says:

    Jay/Eric, where did the 3 cylinder engine article disappear to? I can’t find it under “Chevrolet” or under the main page now.

    ??

    1. ClarksonCote says:

      Forget it, I’m apparently blind. 🙂

  16. DonC says:

    GM has a marketing problem with the Volt. The car is so vastly superior to a Prius it’s a joke, and GM can’t begin to compete. This marketing incompetency is not limited to the Volt though. Look at Cadillac. Great products. Should be killing it but sales are sucking air.

    The problem in thinking it’s a product problem is that this takes you down the bunny trail of thinking you can boost sales with a (useless) fifth seat or a (mostly useless) few more miles of range. That’s not really going to happen. If the marketing was half as good as the engineering there wouldn’t be a sales problem. Once you have what’s arguably the best value vehicle on the market, slightly expanding the target demographic and increasing the value proposition will not move the sales needle.

    The good thing about the halo car references is that it suggests GM is going to continue or improve the quality. A Volt with the quality of the Leaf would not be appealing. The downscale offering to compete with the Leaf will probably be the rumored 200 mile BEV.

    However, having said all this, the Volt was always intended to be a Left/Right coast halo car designed to get mindshare more than sales. Lutz made this clear from Day 1. So in some ways these comments aren’t totally off the wall. Plus the reality is that California is where you sell the vast majority of hybrid and electric cars — Prius, PIP, Leaf, Model S.

    1. Scramjett says:

      I mostly agree with you accept that I think it’s too early to say that the Model S only has appeal on just the coasts. Tesla has made such an awesome car that it appears (so far) to have gained interest (and sales) with people who might otherwise not be terribly interested in EVs. To put it another way, Tesla made a car people would love that happens to be electric. This contrasts from the major automakes who made just an electric car and tried to sell it to a skeptical public. Nissan succeeded because they figured out a marketing scheme that works. However, it only works on the coasts. GM can’t seem to figure out a marketing scheme period. They’ve been relying on the rave reviews of their customers (and not really promoting that very well either).

      I think the reason for this is a part of what ffbj was saying above. The major automakers have gotten so big and so used to doing things a certain way that they literally don’t know how to make an EV without having this almost ingrained belief that it should “stand out” somehow. Which is why you get the funky design of the Leaf and the less funky (but still funky) design of the Volt. With the Model S, there is absolutely nothing funky about it AT ALL! It is just a beautiful car! Nissan is starting to get the message when they say the 2nd Gen Leaf will have a more conventional design but it’s too early to tell if they’ll make it too conventional (Coda) or if they’ll try and make it a beautiful car using similar design language to their Sentra and Altima cars. We won’t know if GM has gotten the message until we see the 2nd Gen Volt, but what Mahoney said isn’t inspiring my confidence.

      1. Scramjett says:

        After re-reading my own comment, it occurred to me that they might have been trying to capitalize on the “Prius effect.” The Prius being the only “stand out” design that succeeded. However, it only succeeded after nearly a decade of effort on Toyota’s part. I’d challenge anyone (not on this site) to even recall what the Gen 1 Prius looks like! I would call Tesla a success, yet the Model S hasn’t been on the market for 10 years like the Prius was before it could have been called a success. And the Model III will likely blow the success of every car ever made out of the water! (That might be wishful thinking on my part, but, hey, I can hope right?)

  17. realdb2 says:

    If GM decides to use the Spark EV channel with the Volt II it will Who Killed The Electric Car? all over again. I don’t think the Volt will die like the EV1 but it will surely see stunted growth.

    Let’s go through some of the original guilty suspects from the movie:

    Car Companies: In this case GM has done a terrible job of marketing and has an downright horrible dealer channel through which to sell a non-ICE car.

    Hydrogen Fuel Cell: 8 years after the debut of the original movie and wouldn’t you know it, Fuel Cells (or shall we say the never ending promise of fuel cells) are once again negatively impacting EV adoption with several player’s (Toyota) promise of breakthrough tech, “just around the corner”.

    US Consumers: There are plug in enthusiasts like the folks who read this forum and then there is everyone else. The Volt receives the highest possible praise from it’s owners. Those who own the Volt, love the Volt. Problem is that group is…well…small. Smaller than GM had hoped for by any measure.

    IMHO GM’s strategy is now: keep up r&d for plug in vehicles so as not to miss the boat when it comes but at the same time, wait until the market (demand & price) are ready before full scale promotion.

  18. Stan says:

    We will have to see how it plays out. However, if GM decides the Southern states are not worthy of the Volt 2.0 they will lose me as a customer. After all, how bad can a Prius be ?

    1. Scramjett says:

      Speaking as a Leaf and Prius owner, pretty bad. My wife and I both love driving the Leaf more than the Prius. Even my sister-in-law (who is by no means an EV fan) loved driving the Leaf far more than the Prius when she’d borrow our car while visiting.

  19. Anton Wahlman says:

    Rest assured that anybody in the US will be able to buy a Volt 2.0 just like anybody in the US can buy a Tesla today. If you’re really interested in the car, you will look it up on the Internet and buy it from somewhere. Works for Tesla, doesn’t it?

    The reality is that those of us on this web site are a small club of hobbyists who are either interested in fascinating new technology, or believe that we are somehow saving the planet by buying a fancy new car. Among normal people, nobody cares about any of this stuff. People buy cars that have a long history of proven durability (witness Corolla, Camry etc) and you’re not taking any chances with something that hasn’t been in the market for at least a decade or two with impeccable reliability.

    May I suggest a more humble view of all of those 99.3% of people who don’t consider a plug-in car at this point. These things take 10-25 years to happen in a big way. 13 years after the Prius, all hybrids combined are still no more than 4% of the US auto market, and it’s not increasing a lot at the moment — if any increase at all.

    Gasoline and diesel is relatively inexpensive at $3.85 and people are very happy spending a tiny portion of their net income (less than they spend on coffee) on reliable transportation where they don’t have to plan or worry.

    1. Breezy says:

      So buy a Volt 1.0 or 2.0 and you get reliable transportation where you don’t have to plan or worry, and you can buy even more expensive coffee, or a nicer house, or go on a vacation…

    2. basementman says:

      +1 Well stated reality check for us EV fans

  20. Sublime says:

    One of the problems facing electric cars is the potential for vast improvements from one gen to the next. This isn’t the problem they face with say the Camaro. Next year’s model may have 5 or 10 more HP, half the people will think the styling got worse. Announcing it a year early won’t affect sales on the current model at all.

    Car companies who have been pedalling out similar cars for generations over need to learn from tech companies (like smartphone manufacturers) about how to not cannibalize sales of the previous gen product too soon before the new one comes out.

    If Volt 2.0 is a 5 passenger, with a much better electric range, has better performance, and is cheaper on top of it all, who in their right mind would buy a Volt 1.0 today?

    1. Lindsay Patten says:

      People who need a car today and don’t need five seats? 🙂

    2. Scramjett says:

      People who don’t really need the fifth seat and are looking for clearance deals?

  21. TomArt says:

    Business as usual – colossal fools, once again…

  22. donald says:

    10$ billion for the taxpayers to subsidize GM, just so Fat-dumb-old Tim Mahoney can have a job. Hey, sounded like I was describing GM there: fat-dumb-old. Hey Mary Barra, is GM still killing it’s customers (delaying recall info that results in fatalities)?

  23. Spec9 says:

    Fire that idiot. He can’t understand the future. Yes, the primary market for the Volt is the west coast and Northeast RIGHT NOW. But as time passes, the Volt gets better/cheaper, gas prices go up . . . the market for the Volt will be EVERYWHERE. Duh.

  24. David says:

    GM is still totally off base. Sounds like the new Volt still won’t be a hit. Making it a 5 seater even at a lower price will NOT make it a hit. They need a bigger, somewhat taller car with more interior space and a bigger trunk and better visibility. That need a CUV. Changing around the current car only a little won’t make the critical changes.

    Is this the same bozo that thought the ELR was a great idea?

    If GM made a CUV body style with even 30 mile AER with a small engine like the 1L, with seating for 5 and good luggage space, batteries under the floor…. Then we’d be talking a successful car. But I have faith that GM won’t do that.

  25. David Campbell says:

    I can’t believe that GM will increase the range and reduce the price-the technology doesn’t seem to be there for that. I do hope they can pull it off though. This picture reminds me of a Leaf, which is not very attractive.

  26. ModernMarvelFan says:

    The fact is shocking to the EV supporters…

    As a Volt owner and a big fan, the chilling fact is that plugin cars still don’t sell enough. Even if you combined Volt and LEAF sales, it still doesn’t even break the original GM goal of Volt sales.

    Even among all the EV bases, there is a huge hate coming from the BEV purist towards the Volt. So, it is realistic for GM to temper the enthusiasm.

    Sure, it is easy for us to be critical, the facts are that even traditonal Hybrids don’t even break the 5% mark, then why do you expect the plugin cars to break that. To some extents, how do you expect Volt to break that barrier alone as EV community don’t even united behind it to support it?

  27. James says:

    Great for GM to begin to build excitement for a better-positioned Volt to go after Prius, PIP and all hybrids — THEN quickly do a big DOWNER to decrease expectations.

    Is GM on crack?

  28. Chris says:

    I live in Oklahoma. I went to look at a Volt.

    The first salesman I spoke to did not know what a Volt was.

    The second we talked to didn’t know if they had one.

    The third (manager) said they had one and escorted me to a Volt with no charge on the battery. All during the ICE-only test drive, the answer to my questions about the car from this manager was something to the effect of “This car is really advanced. I don’t know how it operates.”

    I personally felt there was room for improvement on the car so I wasn’t interested in talking pricing. As I was disengaging myself from the manager, I was repeatedly invited to test drive a Cruze ECO or Malibu ECO with the manager suggesting they were better cars.

    In contrast, I also checked out a Nissan Leaf at the dealership next door. The first salesman I met owned a Leaf himself and knew all about it. They had a few on the lot and they were all charged. All my questions during the test drive were answered and I came away impressed with the service and the car.

    In the end we couldn’t make the financials work to my satisfaction and I continue to be on the outside looking in on an electrified vehicle. I’ve been searching for a new car for better efficiency, low operating cost, and updated electronics (bluetooth/etc), for over 2 years now and still haven’t found the right one, and I can’t afford a Model S.

    Perhaps the Volt 2.0 will do it. Perhaps, by then, mid-west dealerships will support the vehicle properly.

    1. Lou says:

      Don’t hold your breathe. As long as they are still growing corn in Iowa, the mid-west is a lost cause. Maybe if GM comes out with the 1500e? They could make it out of CFRP and Titanium to keep it light. Then make the bed deep and have a bed liner full of coppertops. What do you think?

  29. evnow says:

    Sorry to disappoint Volt fans – but he is right. A smallish Chevy at $30k + is not a mass market car. Even if it has 5 seats.

    Besides, with longer range EVs coming in at about the same time – many will jump directly to BEV rather than a PHEV esp. current Prius drivers.

  30. Lou says:

    This is the Chief Marketing Officer making these public statements? Wow!

    GM is so short sighted in almost everything they do. The Volt was the one vehicle that actually showed some vision and forward thinking.

    Bring back the Vega boys!

  31. Phr3d says:

    Until GM’s own reputational woes die down, expecting something as revolutionary as the Volt to sell gangbusters was GM-erati babble.

    GM+Revolutionary=famously trouble-prone cars.

    Not to mention that they showed a concept that was sexy and compelly (even if it was more aerodynamic in reverse) and finished with a car that was pedestrian with apparently flashy visual cues. A Malibu with bizarre lines.

    The public didn’t stay away Just because it was electric, it was because they didn’t want to be Beta Testers. The beta is over, the car Doesn’t suck, sales and interest are improving.

    I firmly believe that the Latest famous-dipshyt CEO at GM and his -erati will look at the sales climb and kill themselves to find out Why, alluh sudden is the Volt doing well..

    And No Amount of reasoned conversation Can convince them that The Answer is that “They’re not scared of it now, it Didn’t catastrophically break or the ICE grenade,or rust to the windshield in the first three years (or the batteries catch fire). It has turned out to be a good car, and your abundant history pointed to that being an unrealistic expectation.
    and:
    PLEASE don’t let your bean counters WRECK it now.. and maybe Try to make the people that build it Proud that they do? (see also, STFU Tim..)

    1. david_cary says:

      I’d say the trend line on Volt sales is actually pretty disappointing (compared to Leaf). So your point about it being really reliable doesn’t seem to be swaying people. When I was looking last year, I was convinced at that time that it was reliable. I continue to be impressed. But alas, I didn’t buy one.

      What I would buy is 2.0 if it was bigger. I really don’t care that much about 40 or 50 AER. What I want is a much bigger car.

      1. Bonaire says:

        Bigger sedan? How about if it was a CUV like the Equinox?

  32. Martin T says:

    Other manufactures are will makes mass market, will GM loose it’s leadership technological position – very likely with that attitude.
    Toyota & Honda are no better trying to go the hydrogen route.
    Guess that would keep fuel distribution status quo.

  33. shawn marshall says:

    All of the prescient commenters here may say whatever they want; trash GM, Toyota, Leaf whatever.

    It is still all about the battery and the battery ain’t here yet to mainstream (x)EVs.
    Obviously Toyota thinks it’ll never get here.

  34. Steve says:

    Translation: We at GM have chosen to bury our head in the sand while Tesla and Nissan eats our lunch.

  35. Steve says:

    Translation: We at GM have chosen to bury our head in the sand while Tesla and Nissan eat our lunch.