I made an appearance on the Cavuto show last night to discuss low sales for the Chevy Volt. This came after I had listened in on the sales conference call by General Motors. I recognized a major shift on the call regarding the Volt, which is that GM management is finally starting to hedge on the potential for Volt sales after having hyped the vehicle as being a game changer with projections of demand that far exceeded supply.
Statements such as “It’s much more than just being about sales, the Volt is a magnet to showcase our brand.” give evidence that GM management has been gaming auto journalists regarding the true demand for the vehicle while using a bait and switch strategy to lure consumers into showrooms, all at the expense of taxpayers. More importantly, it seems the pundits may finally be catching on.
Other statements by GM execs that give a truer picture of Volt demand came when an analyst questioned the supposed waiting lists for the vehicle. GM’s response, or lack thereof, implied that there are few if any waiting lists for the Volt. That is something I have suspected for some time, but others have accepted GM’s false claims as fact. One word of advice for those covering GM, do not accept much of what that they say as fact.
GM opened up supply for the Volt last month and inventory now stands at over 4,000 units. Despite this fact, sales increased minimally from 1108 in October to 1139 in November. There is now indisputable evidence that Chevy Volt demand is not what it was cracked up to be. This is still not stopping GM from playing their game of deception as they claim they still can not predict demand for the vehicle. Like the boy who cried wolf, GM has lost much of its credibility. There was a sense on the call that analysts and journalists no longer are buying the story.
GM management tried to give the appearance of optimism for the Volt by repeatedly pointing out high consumer satisfaction surveys from Consumer Reports. If customers are so happy, why aren’t there more of them? GM admitted it would not meet its sales goals for the vehicle in 2011. Supply can no longer be blamed with over 4,000 Volts available for sale. Also, remember that GM canceled plans for an additional shift to build Volts, a sure sign that lack of supply is not the issue.
So now it is up to the journalists to decide how they want to proceed with their reporting. They can continue to promote the Volt hype in what has, to this point, been an embarrassment to journalism. Or, they can admit that they have been suckered and start reporting the truth about Volt demand, which is that it simply does not exist to the extent that they were led to believe.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.