A Chevy Volt rolls down the assembly line.
Despite all the breathless headlines and accolades, sales of a new generation of battery cars have gotten off to a slow start – in part due to the consciously slow ramp-up of production by makers like General Motors and Nissan.
But more of the vehicles will be rolling off the assembly line in the weeks ahead. General Motors, in particular, says that after a brief shutdown to re-tool for the 2012 model-year, it will sharply increase production of the new Chevrolet Volt, and should have 16,000 of the plug-in hybrids in dealer showrooms or customer hands by year’s end.
The Detroit plant building the Volt will be even busier next year, with production expected to surge as high as 60,000 – with a quarter of that volume earmarked for China and other overseas markets.
“The Volt will be available to customers nationwide by the end of 2011,” said Cristi Landy, director of Chevrolet Volt Marketing. “By taking the time to reconfigure the plant, we will be better able to meet the tremendous consumer demand.”
Since the Volt came onto the market at the end of 2010 sales have been modest, at best, barely topping the 1,000 mark, though GM has insisted that is the result of limited availability, rather than low demand. Nissan has made the same argument about it Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, which also debuted in December of last year. By the end of May, total Leaf sales will only approach 2,000, according to industry analysts.