Here in America, Chevy’s Volt has fallen flat. After over a year on the market, GM has struggled to break 1,000 sales per month. That is well short of initial production estimates calling for 60,000 45,000 vehicles in 2012. In Europe though, the Volt’s cousin the Opel Ampera is already sold out, and GM is looking with hungry eyes to the world’s largest car market; China.
GM has signed a memorandum of understanding with China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) to manage a fleet of Chevy Volts for “data collection purposes”. It’s no secret though that GM wants to prop up Volt sales, and where better than the Chinese market? Auto sales are booming in China, and the central government is raining money down on carmakers and consumers who opt to build and buy fuel-efficient hybrid, electric, and fuel-cell vehicles.
As long as those cars are made in China, that is. Recent changes to the tax and rebate program have shut out companies like GM from benefitting from these subsidies. That’s where CATARC comes in. This influential lobbying group helps shape government policy in regards to EV’s. If GM can get the Volt into China, and benefit from government subsidies, they could have a hit on their hands (though it’d probably be better received if it wore a Buick badge).
Can China save the Volt’s flagging sales? Like so many things, it depends on government policy. Europe has welcomed the Volt’s cousin the Ampera with open arms. Will China warm to foreign-built hybrid and electric vehicles, or will they continue their protectionist policies?
Source: Hybrid Cars