As any mechanic will tell you, tools aren’t cheap. If you’re the gotta-have-the-best-of-everything kinda person, you could spend $20,000 or more on a toolbox, and JUST the toolbox. So this story regarding some Chevrolet dealerships ceasing Volt sales over just $5,100 in specialized tools is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Peeling back the layers a bit though reveals why some dealerships are saying “Thanks but no thanks” to GM’s plug-in hybrid. Of GM’s 3,079 dealerships, 2,614 were certified to sell the Chevy Volt. Yet just 300 dealerships, mostly located in high-volume metro areas, accounted for more than 70% of total Volt sales. That leaves a very small slice of the sales pie to be carved out between the other 2,300 or so dealerships.
To become an authorized Volt dealership required an investment of $5,000 on tools and training for some dealerships. Now GM is requiring dealers to buy a battery depowering tool for $4,735, as well as a few other specialized tools, to stay in the program. For some dealers, many of whom have sold fewer than five Volts since the plug-in hybrid went on sale in December of 2010, the extra cost isn’t justifiable. This is even more truey when you consider that most dealerships make little or no money on new car sales.
However, without this battery depowering tool, mechanics risk electrocution, and damaged battery packs could catch on fire if left unattended. So this is definitely an important piece of equipment, which is why we feel there is a certain shortsightedness to forgoing the Volt tooling and training. GM is definitely going to start using the Voltec drivetrain in other vehicles, including the upcoming Cadillac ELR hybrid coupe. There may come a day when buying these tools is no longer an option.
For now though, very few dealers are opting out of the program over $5,100, and those that are may soon come to regret their decision.
Source: Automotive News