Chevy Volt sales still slow; might increase soon in California - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Chevy Volt sales still slow; might increase soon in California

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(03/08/12) - Although sales of the Chevrolet Volt have been disappointing, General Motors says it's not giving up on the gas-electric hybrid. One reason for optimism according to the automaker -- California drivers are showing more interest in the car.

"One in four of our total Volt volume so far has been sold in California. California is a very important market to us," said Dan Akerson, GM chairman and CEO.

Recently, California regulators approved the Volt to use High Occupancy Vehicles lanes and carry the coveted HOV sticker.

"The low emission package that we are now producing, in fact, we just shipped our first 36 vehicles here this week, will get access. This will be the first extended range electric vehicle that will have access to HOV lanes," Akerson said.

Despite the increased sales in California, the Detroit assembly line has been shut down. Production isn't scheduled to resume until April 23.

"They've got over 150 days inventory. Even with the shut down they had from late December to early February, inventory is far out stripping demand," said Greg DeYong, UM-Flint economics professor.

While sales of the Volt have been disappointing, the Chevy Cruze is selling quite well. In some models of the Cruze you can get up to 42 miles per gallon. And the car is much less expensive.

"It's a much more proven technology and I think it definitely has an impact of Volt sales," DeYong said.

About 8,000 Volts have been sold since they were introduced last year. The 1.4 liter engines are produced at GM Flint Engine Operations. The same engine goes into the Cruze and the Chevy Sonic.

"The Volt engines have been such a small portion of the overall Flint production that when they go away or if they stop for a couple of weeks like this, it's not a big issue," DeYong said.

"We're going to match our inventory with production. It's the wise thing to do. It's the prudent thing to do," Akerson said.

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