New target – 60,000 Global, 45,000 US
Faced with more demand for Volt than anticipated, GM is choosing to reconfigure the Hamtramck assembly plant where Volt is built in Detroit. The process will take about four weeks in June, and will require that plant production be stopped during the refit. This will impact near term production, but will offer greater capacity for the latter part of 2011 continuing into 2012.
This plant produces Chevrolet Volt and its sister Opel Ampera, along with the Chevrolet Malibu. Production is slated to be 60,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles total in 2012 with 45,000 destined for the US market. This is a significantly higher number than the original 30,000 units targeted for production. Chevrolet says that Volt will be available nationwide by the end of this year, but as we have found, there is a significant difference between available and readily available. Chevy goes on to say that Volt and Ampera production should total 16,000 this year. If the proportions are in line with future production, this would only make 12,000 Volts available in the US by year-end. Trying to stretch that production out to cover 50 states would mean that supply would be highly constrained in the most in-demand markets. At some point, General Motors is going to have to decide how important this technology is to their future. When they do, that is when we will see a truly significant change in production capability.
Nissan’s current plans provide for global production capability of 250,000 LEAFs by 2013. It may be 2014 before all plants are running to maximum capacity. By then, there will be other viable fully electric vehicle options to choose from. While we expect the LEAF to continue to improve, we also expect to see innovations come from other manufacturers as well, providing ever more versatile vehicles. As more brands enter the electric vehicle market, it can only help the consumer with more competitive price points, and feature sets that will appeal to a broader range of needs. This step by General Motors is an acknowledgement that consumers are looking for alternatives that weren’t available to them in the recent past. While not as bold a step as Nissan has taken, it still should be recognized as a step in the right direction.