Recently, there was a headline on several sites (even some that specialize in EV news) that GM’s Orion Township facility, where the Chevy Bolt EV is manufactured, was on an extended vacation shutdown, due to poor Bolt EV sales. Of course, as reported earlier, 8,171 Bolt EV’s have been sold, in it’s first 6+ months of availability and it still is not available nation-wide yet! That is better than any other vehicle I currently track, including the original Toyota Prius! Here’s how they rank, in their first 7 months of availability:
- Bolt EV – 8,171
- Prius (original) – 6,401
- Prius Plug-in – 6,082
- BMW i3 – 5,079
- C-Max Energi – 3,951
- Leaf – 3,894
- Volt – 3,071
- Model S – 2,650
- Model X – 2,614
- Fusion Energi – 2,591
Admittedly, the market has matured and expectations are higher. Some of these vehicles were manufactured, more or less, by hand and not in a mass production mode. The concept of a hybrid or electric vehicle isn’t as new or strange as when the more venerable of these vehicles debuted. But the Bolt EV isn’t even available nationally yet and it’s death knell is already being sounded?!?!?
I used to work for Apple, while Steve Jobs was still alive. I got to experience this from the inside, regarding the iPhone. Remember the iPhone “Antenna-gate scandal?” No? That’s because it was what came to be know an “click bait.” For those unaware of the term, click-bait is a bold headline, meant to convince the person seeing it to click on the link, to read the article. The reason for this, is to sell ads. The user, clicks on the link and the website hosting the story gets paid pennies for the ads that are presented alongside the article. Those pennies can add up to big money and did, whenever the “scandle” was Apple-related. Both Apple fan boys (of which I consider myself a member) and Apple haters would jump on the link to see the “news.” (I’d use the term “fake news,” had it not become so disreputable, recently…)
Well, EV and plug-in hybrid fans are at least as rabid as Apple fans. I often direct people, considering one of these fabulous vehicles, to the Facebook pages that have sprouted up for them. Nothing sells an EV like someone who owns one! Those same EV fans, just like the Apple fans before them, pounce on the click-bait articles, generating revenue for the sites posting the questionable articles and then repost them on Facebook to debate their veracity, whether through fear or indignation. This just fuels the fire and rewards the people posting the questionable articles, in the first place, reinforcing their crappy journalism by rewarding it.
In the real world of wanting to be the first to scoop the rest of the world, this probably cannot be helped. It’s not a new phenomenon…
The Bolt EV “news” was rebutted by a person who actually works at the plant. They said that the vacation/shutdown was extended to retool the line to produce more Bolt EVs at the detriment of Chevy Sonic production. The Sonic, for those unaware of it, is a very low-priced, small four-door sedan, which isn’t selling well, during these times of low cost gasoline.
Another recent “news story,” that I deem as click bait, include the UAW being in talks with GM about ending the production of “6 passenger cars.” The reason stated for this is that, with people buying large trucks and SUVs instead of cars, UAW members working at plants that produce cars are being financially hurt by extended vacations, lack of overtime, etc.
One of the offshoots of the above-mentioned UAW/GM story, is that it is predicted that the Chevy Volt would be a victim of this in 2020.
I’m a major fan of the Chevy Volt. We have had five of them so far, in our household. You’re probably aware of that.
I was not perturbed by the story at all, for a several reasons:
- The American public has an incredibly short memory, when it come to vehicles. Every time gas prices go down, we forget the struggle of high gas prices/gasoline shortages. Demand is a pendulum. Americans go back and forth, between small, fuel-efficient vehicles and large, not-so-efficient SUVs (remember Hummers?). All it takes is a war in an oil-rich area or for the effects of climate change to become apparent and the pendulum will swing back.
- Every day, I get to see people drive a Bolt EV or Volt for the first time. I see them light up over the acceleration, the silence and how inexpensive they are to operate, even when considering how cheap gas is.
- I interact daily online, with owners of EVs and plug-in hybrids and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that 99% of these people will never, ever go back to an exclusively gasoline-powered vehicle. I call this the “stickiness” of EVs. It’s sort of like the Hotel California, in that (paraphrasing) “you can check out any time you like, but you won’t ever leave.“
- Finally, it was the 2020 prediction of the Volt’s demise. I’m completely cool with that. In 2020, the Volt will be ten years old. Advances in battery technology, as well as the expected roll-out of faster charging infrastructure, makes me hope it’s true. There should be no reason for plug-in hybrids to exist, after 2020! Some other incarnation of the Volt, one that’s fully electric, should bring about the retirement of this wonderful GM creation. (Personally, I’m hoping for a fully-electric, two-seat convertible roadster…that I can afford)
So, don’t fret. Someone once said there’s a tipping point coming that most people, pundits included, don’t foresee.
The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.