General Motors Co. will release a new version of the plug-in Chevrolet Volt next month that it hopes would improve its image as well as sales after having been lambasted by safety concerns. A Super Bowl ad has been shown to highlight its technology. It would also delight solo California drivers as they would be able to use carpool lanes.
Alan Batey, vice president of Chevrolet sales and service, said that “by early March,” it’s expected that a modified version would already be selling in California, the biggest market for alternative power autos. In a Feb. 3 interview in Las Vegas, Batey said that its “biggest opportunity is seats in seats.”
He explained that people get impressed when they get a chance to drive the car. The Volt is capable of going over 30 miles on its lithium-ion battery pack before a gasoline engine kicks in.
It sold just 603 units last month, much lower than the 1,529 units sold in December. The decline in sales came after U.S. regulators late last year said that the car was being reviewed due to an incident wherein a Volt battery caught fire after having been damaged in a government crash test a few weeks before.
Last December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it was contented with the revisions that GM undertook that reinforced the vehicle's frame that shields the Volt's battery during a collision. Last Jan. 25, GM CEO Dan Akerson told reporters that "collateral damage” was the result of the car being scrutinized.
So that the U.S. public could be aware of what plug-ins are, GM showed a commercial before the Super Bowl last Sunday. In this ad, a Volt owner explains to aliens how the car works. Batey said that the ad aims to explain how the extended range is achieved.
Last year, GM said that it aims to sell 45,000 Volts in the U.S. in 2012. Batey said that it won’t make any predictions for now and that GM will be balancing supply and demand.