GM Cuts Base 2012 Volt Content Along With PriceBy John O'Dell June 13, 2011
General Motors Corp. has removed the once-standard navigation and high-end audio systems system from its base Chevrolet Volt to get the $1,005 price cut that it will offer when production of the 2012 Volt lineup begins next month, Auto Observer has learned. The nation's second-most efficient car will now start at $39,995 instead of $41,000 and will be offered in all 50 states instead of just seven, but buyers who want the least-expensive model will have to give up both the navigation system and the Bose audio system that was standard on all three trim levels for 2011. A GM spokesman said the company believes many potential customers already have navigation systems on their cell phones and that some would rather save money than duplicate them with factory-installed equipment. A different audio system will be standard in the base model.
GM also has added four new trim levels for 2012, for a total of seven option packages that take the price of a fully loaded Volt to $46,265. While the base Volt loses content to lower its price, the top-end model doesn't gain any despite the $1,585 boost. The 2011 Volt, introduced in December, started at $41,000 and topped out at $44,680. GM spokesman Rob Peterson blamed the increase for the top-end model on higher component costs. It's also likely that GM believes it will sell fewer of the most heavily optioned models now that it is offering more choices and set the price higher to help bolster revenue from those it does sell. Consumers still get one break - the Volt, rated at 63 mpg-equivalent in combined city and highway driving, second only to the all-electric Nissan Leaf's 99 mpg-equivalent rating - is eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 and buyers in at least a dozen states also can get various state and regional rebates and incentives.
Production to Triple
To date, Chevrolet has delivered about 2,500 Volts, including 600 to dealers to be used as demonstration models. The company expects to triple output at the sole Volt production plant, in Detroit, after a retooling shutdown ends next month and the 2012 lineup begins. Only about 500 2011 Volts are left in the pipelines, Peterson said. The company's target for 2011 is 16,000 Volt deliveries - 10,000 to retail customers in the U.S., 2,500 to U.S. dealers for demonstrators and 3,500 to overseas customers - rising to 60,000 next year, of which 45,000 are slated for the U.S. market. GM said that broadening the number of option packages will increase pricing flexibility as it begins marking the Volt in every state. "We are giving consumers greater choice of content" said Cristi Landy, Volt marketing director. "This gives us the opportunity to be more flexible in our pricing and still provide additional high-tech content to customers who want to purchase it."
The 4-seat, sporty sedan-styled Chevrolet hatchback will have several competitors in the plug-in hybrid category next year with the scheduled introductions of a plug-in version of the Toyota Prius and the new 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in. Pricing for those cars hasnt been announced but likely will start below the Volt, Chevrolet markets the Volt as an electric-drive car that can be used without range anxiety because its on-board gasoline engine serves as a generator to continue producing power for the electric traction motor after the lithium-ion battery pack's initial charge from the power grid is depleted. The Toyota and Ford systems are markedly different, using their gas engines to power the wheels when the batteries are depleted. Additionally, the Toyota plug-in will offer less all-electric range that the Volt's 35-40 miles, but Ford said last week that the C-Max plug-in hybrid would match the Volt's all-electric- range and offer more total range - probably because it will have a larger fuel tank to supply the gas engine.