MIKE COLIAS

Finally, Chevy Volt gets some love

Automotive News | April 3, 2012 - 2:51 pm EST

The Chevrolet Volt finally got some good news this week -- a double jolt in fact.

General Motors said today that March was the best sales month yet for the Volt, which has been plagued by sluggish sales and flogged by conservatives as symbolic of President Obama’s meddling in the free market.

GM sold 2,289 of the plug-in hybrid in March. That’s 50 percent higher than its previous best month, which came in December.

Also this week, Fox News reported that one very high-profile Republican -- President George H. W. Bush -- bought a Volt for his son, Neil.

Hey, it can’t hurt.

When I first saw the Volt sales spike, I figured maybe a big fleet order came in. But fleet represented just 7 percent of the March sales.

Maybe $4-plus gasoline finally is moving some potential Volt buyers off the dime. Maybe the new Volt ads that feature gushing testimonials from real Volt owners are working.

Whatever the reason, you can be sure GM execs are welcoming these drops of good news dotting a parched landscape of bad news for their halo car.

Dan Akerson recently told the Detroit News that if Chevy can average 2,000 or even 3,000 Volt sales a month, all of the criticism would “fade to black.”

Lately I’ve heard other GM insiders tossing around those same hypothetical numbers. Sure seems like a concerted effort to recalibrate expectations for the Volt’s success.

It’s like applying pressure to a self-inflicted wound.

The failure to reach last year’s goal of 10,000 U.S. sales and GM’s recent backtracking on its 2012 production forecast of 60,000 units simply offered grist for the Volt’s critics. It turned a nice story about GM innovation into a tale of tanking sales.

It’ll take time to reshape the story line. And it won’t be easy with the November election looming.

But March was a good start.

Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.Mike Colias covers General Motors for Automotive News.

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