Akerson says cost cuts will help the Volt
Akerson: “Pick a number.”
DETROIT -- General Motors CEO Dan Akerson believes GM can cut $5,000 to $10,000 in costs out of the next-generation Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.
"This is a unique car that has one disadvantage: That's the cost at its current volume," Akerson told Automotive News. "If we can knock on the order of $5,000 to $10,000 -- pick a number, $7,000 -- off of this thing, yeah, it'll be a fine car."
Akerson acknowledged that getting there could mean spreading the vehicle's costs over higher volumes, which he didn't quantify. A redesigned Volt is not expected until 2015, probably as a 2016 model. It gets a reskin for the 2014 model year.
The Volt has developed a cult-ish customer base. Last month it landed atop Consumer Reports' annual owner-satisfaction ranking for the second straight year. But its $39,995 sticker, including shipping and before a $7,500 federal tax credit, has kept a lid on demand.
The Volt, which was launched in late 2010, uses electric motors to travel nearly 40 miles powered by a lithium ion battery before a gasoline-powered generator kicks on to provide electricity to the motors.
Sales have fallen short of GM's expectations. Last year Akerson predicted GM would build 60,000 Volts in 2012, with one-quarter of those shipped to Europe and China.
Through November, GM produced 22,687 Volts, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
But sales have risen. Through November, U.S. Volt sales more than tripled from a year earlier, to 20,828.
The Consumer Reports survey was welcomed by Akerson and other GM executives, who have been hammered by bad press because of soft early sales and a 2011 federal safety probe into battery fires that turned up no significant risks, as well as criticism from opponents of green-car subsidies.
"We've taken so much grief for this," Akerson said. "There's no other car like this."
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