Chevy Volt production temporarily suspended to make way for new Impala

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

Even a record sales month wasn’t good enough for the “Obamamobile.” General Motors announced last week it was temporarily suspending production of the battery-powered Chevy Volt following weaker than expected annual sales. The Detroit plant where the Volts are made will be retooled to make the 2014 Chevy Impala.

Last month, GM sold more than 2,800 Volts, making it their biggest sales month ever. This year GM has also tripled Volt sales from last year to more than 13,000.

However, this is far below GM’s goal of 35,000 to 40,000 Volts sold in 2012.

That goal was actually lowered from GM’s initial projection of 60,000 Volts this year, including 15,000 Volts for exporting. Volt sales also slumped last year as GM couldn’t meet its goal of 10,000 sales.

Increased competition from plug-in hybrids has put pressure on GM as Ford and Toyota both sell cars that present stiff price competition to the Volt, CNET reports.

Competing hybrids have not seen the relatively high sales numbers the Volt saw last month. For example, Nissan Leaf sales for the year have been only a third of what Volt sales have been.

The California electric car market has bolstered Volt sales, as one in three Volts are sold there, spurred by special access to carpool lanes for environmentally friendly cars and some of the highest gas prices in the nation, according to CNET News.

With 6,500 Volts currently in stock, GM can supply dealers for 84 days at current sales rates, but automakers like having a 60-day supply, Fox News reports.

The Volt production suspension comes after the Obama administration finalized new fuel-economy standards that aim to almost double mileage standards for trucks and cars to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The Obama administration claims new vehicles will cost about $1,800 more by 2025 due to the new requirements, but Bill Underriner, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said the standards cause new car prices to go up $3,000.

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