U.S. dealers order fewer Chevrolet Volts amid NHTSA probe on battery fire

Article by Anita Panait, on January 24, 2012

The dealer demand for the Chevrolet Volt has been waning, as General Motors struggled to market the plug-in hybrid. Rob Peterson, a spokesman for GM, confirmed that "dealer ordering is down" for the Volt, as dealers were awaiting the resolution of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's probe into the risk of the hybrid's battery pack catching fire.

The investigation came after three packs caught fire days or weeks after the government conducted test crashes on the Volt. GM already announced a voluntary repair with aim of protecting the battery pack. NHTSA said last week it has closed the investigation, concluding that the battery pack poses no significant fire risk.

Though the probe is closed, Peterson said dealers are still waiting for things to settle down. "There's a lot of misinformation that has swirled over the past month," Peterson said.

In New York, GM wanted its 14 dealership to receive 104 Volts but dealers only took just 31 units, a source privy with matter said, noting the same dealers ordered 90%  of other vehicles they were allowed to take. In California, Brett Hedrick turned down all six Volts allocated to him in December 2011 and January 2012, after selling only 10 units in the January-November period. 

GM uses the "turn-and-earn" system, under which the company allocates vehicles to dealers according on their past sales volumes and inventory levels. Hedrick, however, said that the system was crazy, as his dealership never sold more than two Volts in a month. [source: Autonews]

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