DETROIT -- General Motors is sticking to its 2011 U.S. sales forecast of 10,000 Chevrolet Volts, even though it must sell as many in the final two months of the year as it did in the first 10.
GM sold 1,108 Volts in October, a 53 percent increase from September and its best month since launching the revolutionary plug-in hybrid in December. Through October, sales stood at 5,003.
“I’ve never given up on a sales target in my life,” Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, told analysts and reporters on a conference call today. “Given the momentum we’ve got right now, I’m not going to give up on it now.”
Volt sales have been closely watched as a barometer of consumers’ appetite for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Sales have accelerated following a July overhaul of the Detroit assembly plant where the car is built, sharply boosting production.
GM now is rolling out the Volt nationwide, following an initial launch in just seven U.S. states, including key green-car battleground markets such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
GM said today that 2,200 Chevy dealers now have Volts to sell. That number will grow to 2,600 in all 50 states by year end.
Johnson said GM has been “deliberate” with its Volt rollout, ensuring that all dealers have a demo to show customers and have been properly trained on the car’s intricacies.
“Now we’re going to get vehicles that they can sell direct to consumers out to them,” Johnson said. “You’ll start to see those sales rise.”
Johnson said GM has a 72-day supply of Volts. He said that number appears high because so many Volts are in transit to dealers. He said inventories should drop over the next few months “as we get more vehicles through the pipeline.”
“We haven’t totally tested the demand limits on this vehicle,” Johnson said.
The Volt is designed to go 25 to 50 miles on battery power alone. Once the battery’s juice is drawn down, a gasoline generator kicks on to provide electricity to the motors, giving the car a range of several hundred more miles.
Nissan, meanwhile, said its all-electric Leaf sedan -- sometimes viewed as a competitor to the Volt in terms of U.S. sales -- posted sales of 849 units during October and 8,048 for the year-to-date.