Chevy Volt sets monthly sales record in weeks before plant shutdown

Chevy-VoltIn the midst of General Motors’ decision to suspend production at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the Chevrolet Volt had its best month so far. Chevy sold 2,500 of the plug-in hybrids in August, eclipsing the previous monthly record by a few hundred units.

The 2,500 Volts sold in August breaks the previous record of 2,289 cars sold in March 2012. Ironically, GM chose to shut down Detroit-Hamtramck from March 19 to April 16 because slow sales in January and February 2012 had left dealers with a bloated inventory of Volts.

Chevy delivered 10,666 Volts through July 2012, or over 13,000 if August’s sales are included. That’s still well off the pace needed to meet GM’s original goal of 60,000 sales by the end of the year, but at least it doesn’t make the Volt a commercial flop.

Volume only tells part of the story. One-third of Volts sold went to California, an area that has been a tough nut to crack for GM. With a more comprehensive network of charging stations than other states, California is a more viable place for all-electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf.

One thing that makes the Volt attractive to California customers is the fact that it can be driven in carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

The Volt is also leading its main rivals in sales. Nissan only sold 3,543 Leaf electric hatchbacks in the first seven months of 2012. Toyota has sold less than 1,000 Prius plug-in hybrids.

GM denied that the Detroit-Hamtramck shutdown was related to Volt sales. The plant, located on the outskirts of the Motor City, built 13,770 Volts in the first seven months of 2012, but there may some cars produced in 2011 still in the inventory.

GM says the four week shutdown (September 17 to October 15) will give it time to retool the plant for the 2014 Chevy Impala.

Detroit-Hamtramck also builds the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, a near carbon-copy of the Volt that is sold in Europe, as well as small batches of the Chevy Malibu.

The Volt’s steady sales increase is not surprising given that Chevy has been diligently tweaking the car for better performance. For 2013, all Volts got a larger battery pack, which extended their electric-only range from 35 miles to 38. EPA MPGe also increased, to 98. Chevy is reportedly working on a 2.0-liter, turbocharged gasoline engine to replace the current 1.4 as well.

Increased sales may also indicate that people are warming up to the car some called GM’s Moon Shot. It may have been unreasonable to expect customers to accept such a radically different car right away. After all, before the Volt entered production, Detroit-Hamtramck was making the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne.

Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.
Cars

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Cars

Maserati is prepared to fight for a piece of the electrified supercar segment

The Alfieri concept Maserati shown in 2014 is on track for production. It will offer three drivetrain options, including hybrid and electric variants, and it will take just two seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop in its quickest…
Cars

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.
Cars

Report: Amazon and General Motors may invest in electric pickup company Rivian

General Motors and Amazon may invest between $1 billion to $2 billion for minority stakes in U.S. startup Rivian, an all-electric truck company, Reuters reports. Rivian introduced the R1T pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto show.
Cars

Ford F-150 recall: Fault could cause vehicle to downshift into first gear

Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 vehicles over a potential fault that could cause it to suddenly downshift into first gear. The automaker said it's currently aware of five accidents related to the issue.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.