Chevy Volt missed its U.S. sales target of 10,000 cars in 2011

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 4, 2012

General Motors Co. sold 1,529 units of the Chevrolet Volt last December but this was not enough to achieve the 10,000-mark that it hoped to achieve in the U.S. in 2011. It still needed to sell 2,329 Volts more. Last month, GM already said that it won’t be able to meet its sales target. CNW Marketing Research Inc. pointed out two factors for its failure.

The first is a lack of supply until December due to a delay in raising production. The second one is the impact of a federal investigation of three fires that took place after Volt crash tests reduced the demand for the car.

Last year, 7,671 Volts were sold in the U.S. GM has commenced the expansion to 60,000 Volts this year, of which 45,000 are intended to be sold in the U.S. The Volt is under investigation due to incidents where its batteries caught on fire after having been subjected to crash tests by the government weeks ago.

On Nov. 25, the NHTSA opened an investigation of the Volt with regards to safety. December is the third month that the Volt has been available at Chevy dealerships in all 50 states. GM permitted dealers to sell up to 2,300 demonstration models to retail buyers beginning in late November, contributing to the 2.8% climb from October.

This marks the best month so far for the Volt. From the start of the year through November, Volt sales had amounted to 6,142 units. It’s believed that this probe on the Volt could harm the image of electrified vehicles.

Some lithium-ion batteries, similar to those that the Volt uses, have also been used on all-electric cars, like Motor Co.'s Leaf and models built by Tesla Motors Inc. Regulators decided to conduct more tests after it received reports about a Volt catching fire three weeks after a May 12 side-impact crash test while the vehicle was parked at a NHTSA testing center in Wisconsin.

Even with all the excellent features, the centerpiece of the new Chevrolet Volt is the Voltec propulsion system. With this, it can utilize the pure electric drive and then combine it with the range-extending and efficient engine in order to allow the Volt total range to be as far as 350 miles. The Volt also proves that driving an electric vehicle can be lively given that maximum speed is at 100 mph with peak torque of 273 lb.-ft., or 368 Nm, available at low speed.

Acceleration meanwhile from 0 mph to 60 mph is nearly 9.0 seconds and it can reach a fourth of a mile in shorter than 17.0 seconds. Moving the vehicle is the electric drive unit which has an output of 149 hp (111 kW).

Energy to this drive unit is supplied by the battery. Built at its facility in Brownstown Township, Michigan, the battery is made of the T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack which measures 5.5 feet, weighs 435 pounds (198.1 kilograms), and has an output of 16 kWh. Without any other power supply except those from its battery, the Volt can go from 25 miles to as far as 50 miles. While this can depend on a number of factors like temperature, driving technique, and terrain, the Volt guarantees that the drive is free of emissions.

If the energy inside the battery is drained, the Volt can simply shift to the extended-range mode. Power going to the electric drive unit is now sourced from the onboard gas-powered 1.4-liter engine with output of 84 hp (63 kW). Under this set-up, the Volt can go an extra 310 miles.

GM executive director, global electrical systems Micky Bly shared that many of the brand’s customers have committed to using technology that will lower dependence on petroleum. This is why the brand also made sure to commit to offering its customers the highest of standards when it comes to performance, quality, reliability, safety, and value, he added. All of these qualities are true for the battery in the Volt.

In particular, it is under a 100,000-mile/8-year warranty. To ensure that it is able to meet its commitment, engineers at GM conducted validation testing totaling at least 4 million hours and 1 million miles.

This was done not only on the battery packs but on each of the 9 modules and even the 288 prismatic cells. While there were thousands of specifications, the development team, validation team, and test team, were all able to meet them. They were even able to validate all the 161 parts of the battery considering that 95% of it was both designed and later engineered by GM.

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