Rising prices at the pump and sales triple this period last year weren’t enough to keep the plant that makes the Chevy Volt humming. GM plans to idle their Detroit-Hamtramck plant for four weeks starting in mid-September. It’s the second time they’ve idled the plant this year in an effort to get supply in line with demand which raises questions about the strength of the electric car market.
The last shutdown was just six months ago in March when on-hand inventory was at about 154 days. That was also a four-week closure and it helped whittle down their inventory quite a bit. It currently stands at just 84 days which, although much less, apparently still doesn’t reflect anticipated demand.
Chevy Volt sales are up for the year, with 10,666 units out the door versus just 2,870 during the same period last year, but this is far short of where they predicted sales would fall. The numbers might look better, but they’re still disappointing, and worrisome enough to warrant a plant closure.
Around 1200 hourly workers will be affected, getting 90% of their usual pay as workers compensation during the four-week shutdown. During that time there will be retooling efforts to prep for the new 2014 Chevy Impala which is expected to start production at the plant this Fall.
GM previously stated that a second shift would be added for production of the Chevy Impala. We’ll have to see if that still happens with the decreased demand for the Chevy Volt.
It’s not just the Chevy Volt that’s falling behind in sales. The Nissan Leaf has also seen decreasing sales over the last few months. This could be an indication that our desire for environmentally friendly electric cars that plug into a wall isn’t so strong after all.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. When not drooling over cars, Nicole writes for Wired’s GeekMom.