Plug in car rollouts: Over-promised, under-delivered?
Kinks in plug-in production?
Through January GM has sold 650 Chevy Volts while Nissan has sold 106 Leafs – well below planned production numbers, at least broken down on a monthly basis. But there is time to catch up. However, while there has been talk about unexpected demand and increased production, both automakers might actually miss initial production targets for the first year of plug-in sales.
Was this to have been expected, or did both GM and Nissan rush to market? Today, are plug-ins mostly about marketing and perception?
Other hybrid cars have also been overwhelmed by initial demand in the past, such as the the launch of the third generation Toyota Prius, but Toyota was still selling tens of thousands of Prius hybrids worldwide per month, not hundreds or even less than a hundred per month in the case of Nissan.
If you can only average 50 deliveries per month, were you really ready to launch?
Similarly, just as the Chevy Volt went on sale after years of pre-launch marketing, GM’s CEO announced that production could more than double from 11,000 to 25,000 Volts in 2011. Yet, GM’s current production pace is not on track to even achieve its 11,000 vehicle production benchmark. In fact, yesterday GM told the DetroitNews that while GM was working on ways to increase Volt production, the automaker would probably only sell 11,000 Volts this year. So, why ever bring up the 25,000 number if there is almost no chance that it will be achieved?
Isn’t it time to leave the hype behind and start living up to the promises? Sure GM and Nissan want these rollouts to be perfect, but what if a glitch shows up in the next few months, production could be further squashed.
Obviously, both companies still have time to get back on track this year, but it has been said by many auto analysts that plug-in vehicles are far more about marketing than reality until major technological breakthroughs are achieved and the plug-in rollouts thus far seem to only confirm this green hype angle. Unfortunately, the US can’t market its way of out problems like foreign oil dependence or CO2 emissions.