At a media roundtable today in Shanghai, GM fielded questions as to whether it might begin local production of its Chevrolet Volt for the EV-hungry Chinese market.
“Electrification is a part of the strategy” for China, said CEO Mary Barra evading a direct answer but with a response that did not explicitly say no either. “We are looking across the portfolio, being driven by what the customer wants.”
According to Automotive News, if GM chose to localize production, it would be a smart move to meet several goals.
Presently the Volt is exclusively built in Detroit and is exorbitant to Chinese buyers being slapped with import tariffs to push MSRP to $80,000.
Further, because the Volt is imported, Chinese buyers don’t qualify for national or local incentives that reduce the price by around $20,000.
As it is, it might as well be an exotic for how price competitive it is.
Meanwhile GM is energetically pursuing manufacturing in China, building other products just for it, and here it has a ready made solution with specs and range just in line with what the Chinese are clamoring for.
As China increases incentives to get things moving against resistance, the country has been on a crusade to try and increase EV sales – and absorption of Western technology to its aspiring state-controlled manufacturing base.
Couple this with the fact GM has not exactly had a strong sales response for the Volt since 2011, opines Automotive News’ experienced reporter Mike Colias presumably weighing the feeling in China at the moment. Could China be the perfect solution?
Last year EV sales in China increased to nearly 75,000 units compared to less than 20,000 the year prior. This was still just so-so on a per-capita basis, and actually California bought more plug-in passenger vehicles than the “world’s largest auto market.”
But that is projected to be only a be temporary imbalance. China has been described as an awakening giant, and has set a goal this year to sell 336,815 EVss. It plans to install 140,000 charging stations this year to add to the 20,000 it counted last year.
Of course this summer GM hopes to turn around the Volt’s sales track record in the U.S. market with the revised and better 2016 Volt – whihc it says it will market better too – so data and opinions based on the track record of the 2011-2015 Volt may be premature.
Or are they? Should GM build the Volt in China and sell a “boatload” of subsidy eligible car in this market vying to expand beyond any other?