The battery-powered Chevy is just not selling that well, which means that 1,300 workers at GM's Hamtramck, Mich., factory will be out of work between March 19 and April 23. This comes after a prolonged holiday shutdown. From the WSJ:
Launched last year with great fanfare, the Volt has had a rocky start. Short supply and some missteps in rolling the vehicles out to dealers weighed on sales last year. The vehicle's relatively high price tag--$41,000 before a $7,500 government rebate--also kept many consumers away. A U.S. safety investigation into whether the car's battery posed a fire risk after a serious accident added negative publicity. One vehicle caught fire and others sparked after severe crash tests by a U.S. regulatory agency. GM said it would modify and strengthen the vehicles and Federal officials cleared the Volt of any safety risk.
Truth is, electric car sales aren't going to pick up until prices go down, and prices won't go down until batteries can be made more cheaply. One other point: Internal combustion engines are becoming cleaner and more fuel efficient to the point where some question the need for an electric vehicle - or even a hybrid. From Businessweek:
Everyday engines are being enhanced by modern technologies such as electronic controls, eight-speed transmissions that keep engines operating in their optimal range, and direct fuel injection that allow gas to burn more efficiently. Combine those with tried-and-true technologies like turbo-chargers, and automakers can improve mileage and horsepower simultaneously. Such breakthroughs--not slow-selling hybrids--explain why gas mileage of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. last month hit an all-time combined city/highway average high of 23 mpg, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. "You're no longer asking people to make tradeoffs, like accepting anemic performance to get better fuel economy," says Jeremy Anwyl, an analyst for Edmunds.com.