Even With Lots Choked With GM Cars, The 2011 Volt Gets Ad Dollars

Posted by: David Kiley on November 6, 2008

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General Motors is fighting for its financial life. It had the worst month of sales when adjusted for cars sold per capita since they started tracking such things after World War Two. The automaker has suspended several vehicle programs, including its pickup truck and Chevy Cruze sub-compact said to get 40 mpg on the highway, while it desperately lobbies Washington to loan it money to stay afloat until the economy turns North. And it is kicking off an aggressive round of sales incentives to try and move the vehicles off dealer lots before the end of the year.

And yet, it continues to advertise the Chevy Volt, a extended range, plug-in electric car that will not likely see its first real customer until 2011. One of the places you hear the Volt advertised is in morning National Public Radio broadcasts. But the car is also in current issues of some magazines. And I’ve even seen recent TV spots.

Advertising the Volt right now, an image play, wouldn’t seem to be the most pressing issue. How about channeling that scarce money and ad inventory into moving more Saturn Vue Hybrids and Chevy Malibus? “One of the reasons is that we have to keep reminding the people in Washington that we are on the way to bringing the country and extraordinary car of the future while they are deciding whether to provide us the loan money we need,” said one executive working with GM on its advertising.

A looming nightmare for the Detroit automakers is news that Rep. Henry Waxman, representing the 30th District of California, is expected to mount a challenge to Rep. John Dingell, who represents Southeast Michigan for the chairmanship of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the committee that, among other things, leads on fuel economy legislation.

Dingell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are known not to be very friendly. When it came to redistricting a few years ago, and one of Michigan House seats was eliminated, Pelosi endorsed Dingell’s rival for the remaining seat he eventually retained. Pelosi, after the 2006 elections that gave her the speakership, also sought to establish a new committee on global warming or climate change that would have taken fuel economy away from Dingell’s committee.

Waxman, a Californian, is known to be far less friendly toward Detroit than Dingell, and gives short time to excuses for not achieving better fuel economy.

Reader Comments

c.l.shannon

November 6, 2008 10:30 AM

spending money on the much-invoked but seldom seen vapor-ware volt is a joke and another example of idiotic management. its an over-priced unexciting staid piece of iron that will not be able to compete with honda and toyota.

Bill Cosworth

November 7, 2008 2:33 AM

CI shannon you are an idiot the volt is totally electric

Toyota and Honda have nothing close and they will be the ones that will have to file for chapter 11.

Toyota and Honda just need to go out of business they are bad for the US and write negative articles on the internet about our US car companies.

john anderson

November 7, 2008 3:01 PM

I think for getting rid of some oil consumption and for long term sustainability i wish GM good luck in this.

It is the future.

Car Pet

November 8, 2008 1:25 AM

Everyone knows that electricity will kill you. The volt will explode if you get near it. If you touch is with a chili dog it will cause a nuclear reaction and destroy your garage. Honda and Toyota are like Orks and Elves - figments of the imagination foisted on a gulible population dizzy from gasoline fumes and queasy from chili dog sauce.

MarvK

November 8, 2008 12:26 PM

I agree, CL Shannon IS an idiot. He can't even capitalize sentences, and hasn't a clue about the bold new technology GM's designing, nor the maximum efforts of Bob Lutz' team.
He needs a class in Third Grade Composition.

Steve

November 9, 2008 1:34 AM

Bill,

Toyota are releasing a plug-in version of the Prius in 2009. Knowing Toyota, it's going to be a damn sight better than GM's efforts.

phil

November 10, 2008 11:05 AM

time to cut the hypocrasy and call a spade a spade.

Labor Unions have destroyed the American auto industry.

Labor Unions are tenticles of socialism that inevitable destroy everything they touch. the facts of history back this up.

The stockholders own the companies. they hire the management to do what is best for the organization. They call the shots. having a job is a priviledge, never a right. If the unions would have stayed the hell out of things, American cars would be so great Toyota, Honda, etc. wouldn't even exist.

Labor unions destroy any business they touch. the facts speak for themselves.

dl

November 10, 2008 8:11 PM

I have been working in the auto sales business for years. Say what you want about the American cars but when was the last time a consumer got excited about buying a Neon, Stratus, Malibu or a Taurus. Cmpanies have done this to themselves, the rebates excessively depreciate the value of the vehicle you bought and sour the consumer on wanting to return again. Admitted the used car segment in general is in trouble but losing 50-60% of a vehicles value in the first 2 years is outrageous. Say what you want about Honda or Toyota, but their cars seem to hold the loyalty of their customers far better. When you ask someone if they were the same price would you want a Malibu or a Accord? Try it you will see, just about everyone will say Accord. In the auto business we call the American cars "special finance cars" meaning you can go find a 2008 25-30K miles for 12-13K and at auction you can buy them for 9-11K! A 20K VEHICLE!
Funny the Lexus dealer i work for sold 200 new and 170 pre owned last month. For a highline store in this economy we were 5th in the nation. The Caddillac store across the street sold 85 new and 55 used.
Oh, and try to get approved for a loan on a caddi with a 680 beacon score. At Lexus you get 2.9% at Caddi you get turned down. I had a doctor with 6 paid off autos and no late payments. Score was 688. Got turned down at caddi, got 2.9% at Lexus

Hal_in_Houston

November 11, 2008 10:19 AM

When you go to Washington, Hat in Hand, and ask Madame Pelosi for money, would you say, "we need money to keep selling SUVs and Hummers or to develop the revolutionary Chevy Volt?"

Will it hurt current sales, certainly...but just think how many people will be in show rooms next fall looking at the one Chevy Volt that won't be availble for another year...but we do have a Saturn Vue Hybrid.

Advertising the Volt on NPR, what channel do you think socialist tree huggers and Nancy Pelosi listen to?

Looks like GM is finally thinking long term vice short term profits. I just hope they can survive till 2010.

George

November 18, 2008 8:48 AM

Get ready, government will bail out the automak.....er...union. Democrats cannot afford to put hundred of thousands of voters out on the street. If you want to see a real life story about the next chapters, look up British-Leyland. If we do not learn from history, it just keeps repeating itself.
The imports did not take our auto business, GM, Ford and Chrysler were nice enough to hand the Japanese the customers one at a time. I was in the retail end for 30 + years and I saw it happen. Main problem, if you look at failed automakers since wwII they all had one thing in common, financial people ran the company. Chrysler exists only because a salesman, Iaccoca, took over the company. You cannot imagine how bad some of the product was in the 70's and 80's. Sure now we have a world class product, after they ran off most of the customers.
Oddly Ford seems to have enough cash to weather until 2010 when the industry is projected to have an upturn. But get ready, the democrats are going to blow your tax dollars so fast that Bush will look like a light weight when it comes to spending. It most likely will be a very rough four years for all businesses not just automotive.

George

November 18, 2008 8:57 AM

Just wanted to make one more comment, while I was traveling, I was reading a USA Today at breakfast. There was a full page ad, I wish I had kept it, It said "Let the Union do the same thing for you that it has done for the railroads, steel, mining, and airlines."
Then there was a picture of the chain link gate with a chain and padlock. Very true, and if the union gets their way, there will no longer be private union elections, all they have to do is get enough signatures on cards and the union is in. The card check bill that the Democrats are pushing. Then union organizers can strongarm people to sign cards. Call your coingressman and senators and tell them not to pass this bill. It will ruin our country.

chad

November 18, 2008 10:42 AM

GM did this to themselves. Let's not forget, they had a "volt" before. It was called the EV1. They destroyed it and retrofitted the factory to manufacture the Hummer.

The EV1 had one flaw, it didn't need to come back to the shop every 3 months for repair and maintenence. So it had to be destroyed.

If they had pursued the EV1 technology they would probably be #1 in the world for car sales right now. That is a bad management decision and that stupidity does not warrant a hand out because they employ so many people.

Let the market sort it out. The first one to bring the 100% eletric car to the market is going to be the winner. It is that simple.

Opinions like Bill's make me shake my head. Competition makes you stronger Bill not weaker. It pushes you to improve. Without competition the big three would probably still be producing award winning designs like the Chevy Vega, or the Ford Pinto.

Maybe a lack of a hand out from Washington will see the EV1 rolling out of factories again to save GM from chapter 11.

Car Pet

November 22, 2008 9:12 PM

One time I had a car that ran on maple syrup. I drove it to the moon over a long summer once. These excuses from Detroit (and its surrounding suburbs) remind me of a tale I used to hear from my Grandmother. She told of a time when gasoline was free and cars were plated with solid gold (and NOT the cheesy alloys they use to stengthen common jewelry to make it strong enought to withstand common digital finger stresses). The beaurocrats in Washington D.C. (and its surrounding suburbs) do not want you, the fat American, to have your butt cheecks inconvenienced by televised lagerie-clad sexy girls slight-of-handing your wallet involutarily into your local car dealers trophy-wife boobs. If you take a volt and an amp and multiply them you will get a watt - and that is just simple physics that the oil companies do NOT want you to know! So, if someone tries to teach you some simple mathematics you tell them "ouchies, that hurts my brainipoo and pass the gasoline!". Three cheers for solar-powered vibrators! hip hip horaaay!

Markus

March 29, 2009 10:37 PM

In my opinion the VOLT is a statement of GM's Hipocrisy. Have you ever seen the movie "Who Killed the Electric Car" ? If not, take your time to watch it, it's interesting. GM already had their electric vehicles back in 1996. Just as Toyota, Honda, Ford and others. But guess what ? They crushed all them because of the lobby of the oil companies. Now what's the new wave ? Hidrogen. But what people don't know is that the way that these companies gets hydrogen is just as -if not more- bad for the environment than gas.

What I most constantly am disgusted to hear are those "Discovery Channel" series, showing how US is so advanced creadit BIODIESEL and ETHANOL. Well guess what (again) ? You are not the first to do that ! In fact, BRAZIL has been using ethanol as MAIN FUEL for their vehicles since 1970's ! And it's made of SugarCane, which is about 5x more "clean" and efficient than the Corn Ethanol. Also today, the diesel that is sold there MUST CONTAIN at least 2% of Biodiesel. When these companies come with these 40k U$ prices I just laugh. There are places in the world where they already make affordable electric cars (~15k$ for a family sedan), but that's not included in the media. Oh no, only TESLA cars and VOLT's. That is, lacking a better expression, disgusting.

Regards from Markus, Brazil.

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