Posted by: David Welch on July 30, 2010
The Chevrolet Volt may be wearing out its welcome. General Motors has been hyping the gasoline-electric car ever since the company showed it off to the public 1,300 days ago. The company has let countless reporters into its battery labs and given interviews with its engineers, all in a very credible attempt to show that GM has smart people with good ideas. And it has worked. GM has picked up some technological credibility and fostered goodwill with the environmental crowd.
Now that GM is finally, after three and a half years, getting close to selling one, the commentariat is taking shots at the Volt. In an editorial in the New York Times today, Truth About Cars Editor Edward Niedermeyer panned the car as “GM’s Electric Lemon.” He criticized the car for, among other things, having bland styling and because it will likely lose GM money. Before that, “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, a well-known car buff, also took a shot at the Volt’s styling, telling the Detroit news that, “if you didn’t know, you might think it’s a Cobalt or a Camry.”
What gives? It could be a case of Volt fatigue. Sure, documenting the tale of the car’s development gave GM a great story to tell. But in the past few months the company has amped up the noise on a car that has been hyped for years. I count 14 press releases on the Volt since June, including an announcement today that GM will boost 2012 production from 30,000 to 45,000. Some of those releases were absolutely necessary, like vital information on pricing, warranty and ordering options. Others were less weighty, such as a release saying that the car can get water under the hood without the electronics going haywire. Another details a test that proves dust won’t get in the car or affect its vitals while driving. The Volt goes on sale in November. At this point, it’s probably time to just market the car to consumers.