It’s looking like General Motors is back in business with its electric Chevy Volt outperforming GM’s expectations. It’s usually a good thing to be the first in the market where new technology is concerned, and the Volt’s initial success is great news for an automaker that was rowing ominously close to the rocks only two years ago.
After navigating the gauntlet of bankruptcy–and emerging with billions in taxpayer bailout money–a comprehensive restructuring plan emerged which tweaked everything from GM’s long-term business strategy to its contractual obligations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. With the Volt, at least we’re finally seeing some return on our bailout investment, even if the bailout still remains unpalatable to many taxpayers in principle.
Owners of the new Volt are giving its gas mileage rave reviews, and GM is claiming the average Volt owner is traveling around 1,000 miles and one month between fill-ups.
Perhaps just as importantly is how the Volt is changing consumer perception of electric cars. Owners are describing the car as “fun to drive,” a contention in direct opposition with Mazda’s campaign to paint electric vehicles as the ultimate buzzkill. Consumer perception is a funny beast, and which story ultimately prevails will play out in the years to come. For now, the additional bit of good news for GM is that 90% of Volt owners are new to the company. A disproportionate percentage of them are trading in a Toyota Prius, which I suppose is good for GM but is kind of disappointing for green energy proponents. Not that I’m surprised, but nonetheless I would rather hear that people are trading in their Hummers and SUVs for a Volt.
Dream on, right? Instead it seems that the “usual suspects” who were the first on board with the hybrid Prius are trying to remain on the cutting edge of green technology by upgrading to the Volt.