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Doubling Down on the Volt

8:42 AM, Apr 9, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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The administration’s enthusiasm for GM extended to its electric car, the Chevy Volt. President Obama once said he’d like to drive one when he leaves office and no reason he couldn’t. There’s lots of inventory lying around.

The company couldn’t sell the car for reasons that are fairly obvious anywhere outside of Washington: it costs an arm and a leg.  Washington tried to fix that in the usual ways, cash rebates and such. The government even bought some Volts.  But the car never sold in the numbers that GM had confidently predicted it would and 18 months ago, as Reuters reported, the company was:

losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds … with cheap Volt lease offers ... some Americans [were] paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce.

Which is the sort of thing that leads one to believe that GM and the government are a perfect fit.

The company did not give up, however, and now:

Hoping to boost demand for its slow-selling Volt hybrid, Chevrolet is planning to sell two versions of the redesigned 2016 Volt, including a lower-priced model with a smaller battery pack and shorter driving range.

As Paul Lienert and Bernie Woodall of Reuters report:

Chevrolet has sold just 58,158 Volts since the car went on sale 39 months ago, despite price cuts and heavy discounting. In comparison, the best-selling Ford F-series pickup last month sold more than 70,000.

Given the economics, it is probably a good thing the Volt hasn’t sold. It might have driven the company into another bankruptcy.

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