General Motors Co. will idle production of its Chevrolet Volt battery-powered car for five weeks beginning this month because of slow sales amid an effort to boost the vehicle’s consumer appeal, the company said Friday.
Launched last year with great fanfare, the Volt has had a rocky start as sales stalled, and the car became a lightning rod for critics of the Obama administration’s auto-industry bailout and support for alternative energy.
GM said around 1,300 workers at the Hamtramck, Mich., factory where the Volt is built will be out of work between March 19 and April 23, a spokesman said. The plant had just resumed production on Feb. 6 after a prolonged holiday shutdown.
Mark Reuss, GM’s North American chief, said in an interview the auto maker remains committed to the Volt and is taking a number of steps to improve lagging sales. GM will launch a new national ad campaign this month that features Volt owners praising the car. It also recently dropped the monthly cost of leasing the vehicles to $350 from $399 for a 36-month lease. In California, new low-emissions versions of the vehicles that qualify for use in the state’s high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be sold to consumers at no extra cost.
“This technology is here to stay, we have all kinds of people who want to copy it and go after it. We are not re-evaluating anything,” Mr. Reuss said. “The only question here is what the rate of sales will be.”
For GM, the Volt has become an outsize issue. GM spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing the Volt and has been hoping the car would put a halo on the company’s image, much the way the Prius hybrid won the favor of American consumers for Toyota Motor Corp.
Volt uses a lithium-ion battery to power the car and has a small gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery runs low.
Full Story Via WSJ