General Motors reported Chevy Volt sales of 1,529 for the month of December. The still unimpressive number is an improvement over previous months, but the gains were mostly driven by fleet sales. According to GM, 992 of the Volts sold were to retail customers while 537 went to fleet purchasers.
GM says the fleet sales were to corporate buyers and not to rental companies. The number of Volts sold to townships receiving federal grants remains unknown. The corporate sales claim makes sense as crony company, General Electric, starts to make good on its promise to buy thousands of Volts. Of course, GE benefits by selling charging stations for the vehicles.
In a year where Solyndra became the face of the solar industry’s chronic failures, even the holiday season could not prevent one last flurry of layoffs in 2011.
The Mountain Enterprise (based in Frazier Park, Calif.) reported over the weekend that First Solar, Inc. – which the media sometimes identifies as the largest solar company in the world – laid off half its employees on Friday at its Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project. The facility has been the subject of controversy in the local community over the effects it will have on land use, wildlife, and water usage.
General Motors' much-hyped Chevy Volt has yet another distinction to add to its long list of commendations. We had all heard repeatedly about Motor Trends' Car of the Year award, Consumer Reports' recommendation and Jay Leno's love affair with the car, but the Volt now gets a less publicized, more deserved distinction from Yahoo Finance's 24/7 Wall Street site. The Volt has made the list of "The Worst Product Flops of 2011" and apologists for the vehicle are sure to, once again, attack the credibility of those issuing the opinion.
Let's look past the recent Chevy Volt fires. The value of a vehicle will be determined by the consumer. It does not matter if Jay Leno and other rich purchasers say they love their Volts. The real questions are, should taxpayers be paying the wealthy to purchase cars like the Volt, and what, exactly, are the taxpayers getting for their money?
Sales for the Chevy Volt have been stagnant and it has become apparent that lack of supply is not the reason. GM CEO Dan Akerson is responsible for tying the success of GM into the success of the Volt by having made lofty claims that the vehicle was, in fact, the future of the company while investing a major portion of marketing dollars to help support the perception. Deception was evident as statements were made that the vehicle was "virtually" sold out and supply couldn't keep up with demand, while evidence surfaced that this was not the case. GM cancelled plans to run a second shift for the vehicle even as it continued the ruse and floated rumors that there were huge waiting lists of purchasers for the vehicle.
Bloomberg reported last week that General Motors will be paying $12 million in additional bonuses to its UAW workers for meeting "quality targets." It's nice to see the holiday spirit of giving at GM. Unfortunately; US taxpayers are not faring as well as Government Motors' politically favored union members.
The Obama Administration still refuses to exit its stake in GM with Treasury serving as Money Manager for the American taxpayers. Geithner and friends continue to gamble on a market-timing strategy to "maximize" taxpayers return on its GM bailout (sorry, "investment.") So, how are they doing?
In January of 2010 USA Today reported that Consumer Reports (CR) temporarily suspended its recommended rating for eight Toyota models. This was in response to the possibility of Toyota models being unsafe as accusations were made that the vehicles had sudden acceleration problems and NHTSA investigated the alleged incidents. In CRs' words, "Although incidents of sudden acceleration are rare, we are taking this action because the vehicles have been identified as potentially unsafe without a fix yet being available to consumers." CRs' response to the Chevy Volt NHTSA fires is quite different from the Toyota response.
Here's another surprise for Chevy Volt owners. Autoblog reports that General Motors is holding an online chat with Volt owners about winter driving. Part of the chat reveals that, despite the fact that GM claimed the Volt is purely electric for a range of about 35 miles, the vehicle will use gas in cold conditions. GM states, "Please be aware: when starting your Volt in these colder months, in some instances, your gas engine may engage regardless of the state of charge of the battery. This was designed into (the) Volt to generate heat for the battery when temperatures are well below freezing."
You may have heard of the announcement that there will be a congressional investigation into why NHTSA waited six months to notify the public of the crash-tested Chevy Volt which burst into flames three weeks after the crash-test. If you have, it was probably not through mainstream media networks, which seem to be keeping fairly quiet on the story. I have not been able to ascertain a logical reason for General Motors and the Obama Administration's transportation safety agency to withhold reporting the incident.