General Motors Volt Important for Automotive Development

General MotorsThe Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle which General Motors has been producing for approximately three years, may not be particularly successful in an economic sense, but it is nonetheless important for its impact on the development of the automotive industry in America. Reuters has reported that, over the course of its three year existence, the Chevrolet Volt has sold only around 60 000 units. Although this may sound like a lot, the tiny share of General Motors’ production that this makes up can be seen from the fact that Ford sold 70 000 units of its popular F-series pickup truck this February alone.

The Volt’s apparent unpopularity has sometimes been attributed to the price which, as the Volt costs roughly $40 000, is by no means insignificant. However, it is possible to lease the Volt from as low as $200 per month, which makes it reasonably priced, if not cheap. Furthermore, owners of the Volt have said that it costs them only about a dollar per day to charge, and that it costs roughly the same as a Dodge Durango to run. The price, therefore, can not really be seen as the main reason for the Volt’s economic failure thus far, and much more research needs to be done in order to understand the failure of the Volt to capture the imagination of consumers.

Matt Stevens, an employee at Vic Canever Chevrolet in Fenton, has said that the Volt actually costs General Motors money to produce and sell, making it difficult to understand why it is still in production today. The answer to this question, although it is by no means cut and dried, can be seen from the impact that the Chevrolet Volt has had on other cars produced by General Motors. This impact is most obvious when one examines the Cadillac ELR. The ELR, which costs an astonishing $78 250, has been described as beautiful, and has been seen as a car to which Mercedes-Benz has no answer. This luxury car is the perfect example of the impact that the Volt has had on the automotive development process at General Motors, as the ELR is a direct relative of the Volt.

Although the ELR is undoubtedly an upgraded version of the Volt, with much larger disc brakes, a new chassis, and 24 more horsepower, it is nonetheless a perfect example of how the Volt is still impacting the automotive designers at General Motors. This idea is further supported by the fact that Chevrolet is continuing to build the Volt, despite its less than stellar track record, although they are certainly making adjustments. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt is expected to be much sleeker and lower slung than the 2013 model, in what some experts are citing as an attempt by Chevrolet to reinvigorate the car’s image among consumers. Furthermore, the new Volt is expected to have a bespoke platform, rather than the platform built for the Chevrolet Cruze, which will allow the Volt to seat five passengers. This determination on the part of General Motors to tinker with the Volt in order to popularize it among consumers is perhaps the greatest indicator of the importance of the car at GM, and the Cadillac ELR is yet another example of how important the Volt has been in the process of Automotive Development in America.

By Nicholas Grabe
Follow @NicholasGrabe

Sources
The Globe and Mail
TC Times
Car and Driver

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