A rumor that Chevrolet was pushing back its nationwide production schedule for the next-generation Volt, and nixing the 2016 model year altogether for 39 states has been verified.
Chevrolet will as scheduled continue an ordering process for 2016 model year Volts that began in California in May, and later with 10 more states following its clean air rules. Revised plans now however call for Volt production to change over to 2017 early next year and to be offered to the rest of the country by early spring.
This was verified following interviews with GM media reps and a brief statement by the automaker describing the change of plans.
“Chevrolet has a shortened model year for the 2016 Chevy Volt that will have a limited distribution network,” said GM media rep Kevin Kelly reading a prepared statement. “The 2016 Volt will be sold in our strongest EREV markets. The 2017 Chevrolet Volt will begin production early this spring and will be available throughout the country.”
The 11 ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) states that will get the 2016 model year Volt as planned are California, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Maryland , Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Not said in the statement is that 2016 model year production had been originally planned for the full nation beginning November with first deliveries following according to info supplied to Chevy dealers. Now 39 states that were due to get the Volt will have to wait a few more months, and will not be sold 2016 models.
On Saturday HybridCars.com posted news of the rumor – explaining it was a rumor – and only a couple other publications that we saw also ran it, as it was based on images represented as supplied by Chevy dealers. We did so based on communications also with the head moderator at GM-Volt.com who is well connected, and he was now saying the photo appeared like it could be authentic. Turns out it was.
So, the Volt will be a 2017 by early spring. Whether this means March, April, or what month, GM could not confirm in an interview today.
Changes to the 2017 Volt are minor. Kelly could only confirm that the 2017 model year will have one new color from the Disney Tomorrowland feature of the Volt, Citron Green Metallic. And, adaptive cruise control and Android Auto will also be made available for 2017 model year Volts.
In a separate interview, Chevrolet rep Michelle Malcho was unable to confirm more changes, but it would appear unlikely anything with the powertrain will be updated, though this is not official.
Why the Updated Plans?
As for why the change in plans, Malcho said Chevrolet rethought its distribution plan based on past experience with the first-generation Volt in 2011.
The hope this time, she said, is to avoid frustrations, and ensure a smoother roll-out nationwide. The staged roll-out the first time around saw spotty allocations, customers and dealers wondering when they’d get their cars, and other issues.
“It was a learning experience, let’s put it that way,” said Malcho, and Chevrolet this time wants to focus on its key markets.
California alone in 2014 accounted for 50 percent of all plug-in electrified vehicle sales, and it has been the Volt’s core market. Other ZEV states as well are stronger, say, than Wyoming for example.
So, Malcho said Chevrolet will get the Volt to these core states, then focus on the 2017 model for them and the rest of the nation next spring.
“We’re going to do it really well in these 10 states then move on,” she said of 10 ZEV states plus California.
This also will give Chevrolet time to do more thorough dealer training in the states where the Volt does not now sell as strongly, she said.
The move, while not without precedent, is unusual, and there are other potential pros and cons.
A con, obviously, is many buyers outside the select ZEV states will have to wait perhaps a quarter year or longer to get the Volt. A pro might be owners will get nearly one year’s worth of model equity as a bonus. That is, they will have a 2017 model early in 2016. Hypothetically, someone could return a car after a one-year lease and it would still remain as current model year.
Those are two possible ways to look at things. Those considering the Volt obviously will have more things to consider.