GM Loans Volts in Effort to Win Over Doubters

In testimony before a Congress earlier this year, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson called the Chevy Volt “a political punching bag”―a characterization that few who have followed the vehicle since its release could argue with. Whether the sedan is being tied to the controversial auto bailouts, targeted by Darrell Issa investigations, or called “a car nobody wants” by Rush Limbaugh, the Volt has been subject to an undeservedly high level of bad press. (The car did top the Consumer Reportscustomer satisfaction survey and pick up an impressive collection of awards in its first year on the market.)

In an effort to cut through the noise, GM has reportedly been loaning out Volts to select individuals in Southern California through its communications team. According to Green Car Reports, the program has been active for several months, providing nearly 300 short-term loans, which last anywhere from three to seven days. The scheme has been tagged “Cars to People,” and as GM representative Shad Balch told GCR, it helps to bridge the gap between the public’s misconceptions about the Volt and reality. “On any given day, we encounter literally dozens of folks who either have an interest in―or a misunderstanding of―the Volt,” said Balch.

Indeed, an informal sampling of dialogue about the Volt inevitably yields a few poorly-informed statements regarding the Volt’s propensity to leave drivers stranded after its electric range runs out―a blatant mischaracterization that has nevertheless been repeated over and over again in the media. As much work as Chevy has put in to explaining the Volt, the fact remains that it’s a new technology, and the only ironclad way to express to someone how similar the car is to most traditional ICE sedans from a driving standpoint is to put them behind the wheel.

According to Green Car Reports, the program has so far been successful in converting at least one future buyer, a Prius owner who had been on the wait list for the new Prius Plug-in before getting the chance to tool around in a Volt for a few days.

Regardless of its immediate sales impact, public acceptance of electric drive vehicles is going to be a gradual process that includes the visual presence of plug-ins and charging stations in people’s neighborhoods, word of mouth, and―for those who are curious enough to pursue them―test drives. In loaning out the Volt, particularly in an influential early market like Southern California, GM will help to get the good word out about plug-ins that much quicker, which is good for everybody.


  • rgvd

    We just got a Volt. It’s the most fantastic car I’ve ever owned.A high quality sports car that doesn’t need gas! Soooo much fun to drive. I’ve leased 3 BMW 5 series and this car is as good. Handles even better. The car of the future now. Everyone else is spending $10 dollars a day on gas to go 40 miles. I’m spending $1 at the most. The lease was less than the 2009 Camry Hybrid we were leasing before the Volt. First American car I’ve ever bought

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ rgvd,

    Not to rain on your parade because I’m glad you’re happy with your lease, but…

    1) The Volt is NOT a sports car. The Camry has better numbers.

    2) I spend $2.62 on gas everyday to drive 33 miles roundtrip not $10.

    3) The Volt is still priced higher than most people can or are willing to afford.

    4) The Volt DOES need premium gas otherwise it would be an EV not a plug-in hybrid.

    So is the Volt a good car all around? That’s debateable. Only seats 4 people. Luggage space is somewhat limited. It’s pricey. It requires premium fuel. It’s ICE is not that efficient compared to others out there. Long term quality and reliablity are questionable since it’s brand new. Long recharging time.

    But it does save people from going to the pump as often.

  • Ben Hadd

    I wonder if they’re willing to loan them to poor people too. The average Volt owner earns $170,000 a year. Maybe we need to up the subsidy to these high earners from $10,000 to $30,000.

  • dutchinchicago

    The Volt is a great car.

    Like any car there are trade offs. If you have five children than this is probably not the car for you. If you are a builder and need to move large amounts of bricks every day then this is probably not the car for you.

    On the other hand if you have 4 or less people in your household and you drive less than 40 miles most days then this is the car for you.

    Yes it does take premium fuel but most Volt drivers only use this fuel when the car on purpose burns some of it to avoid the fuel getting stale (it has all kind of tricks to postpone this as long as possible). I expect to only use one tank of fuel each year which will be used during my annual family holiday.

    The car does 35 Mpg when driving on gas which is not bad especially taking in account how rarely you actually drive in this mode.

    If I completely empty the battery I need 10Kw to fill it up again. This will cost me about $0.40. No matter how efficient your car is you are not going to beat this. And my electricity mainly comes from nuclear power plants (illinois) or a soon to be installed solar panel so it is pretty green if you care about things like that.

    I love my Vol and my next car will be a Volt again. What you should look at is owner satisfaction and the Volt is getting the highest marks. This should tell you much more than any biased new story you might come across.

  • CharlesF

    I thought I would head over to CR and compare the Volt and new Camry Hybrid. The Volt has higher owner satisfaction and reliability. The safety scores are the same, except for the Volt wins on the roll over test. The Camry does win the 0-xx times, but losses the emergency handling test. The Camry is a larger car and does win all the size comparisons, but who cares if the Volt is large enough.

    Looks to me like the Volt is a very good car if it fits your lifestyle. Maybe even a better car than the Camry Hybrid.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I’m sorry, but the Volt is more reliable than the Camry? I don’t think so. You’re comparing the first and only year of the Volt with just one year of the Camry. The Camry has been a very reliable car for years if not decades. The Volt has been out all of what? One and a half years at most?

    Getting 35 mpg is about average. Not exceptional these days. Although the Volt does weigh in at 3,750 lbs. The fact that you have to use premium fuel for average mpg’s is a little mind boggling.

    And if you’re spending a lot more green to save some.

    Now I think most of these owners need to just came out and speak the truth and say, “we bought this car because of the cool new tech in it and not use as much fuel” instead of saying, “we wanted to save money by not filling up our tank as much”.

  • LamTek

    35 MPG is far from average. The national US vehicle average is typically between 21-23 MPG with a record high of 23.2 this past February.

    http://blog.truecar.com/2012/03/12/average-fuel-economy-for-new-cars-sold-in-february-2012-rises-to-23-2-mpg-according-to-truecar-coms-truempg/. Average gas prices where I live is anywhere between $4.40 to 4.70/gallon.

    I’m loving my Volt, I’ve been saving around $200/month on transportation costs (free public charging + work charging), and even if I did charge entirely at home I’d still be saving $150/month. The cost savings that offset the cost increase over a Cruze in about 5 years since there is nearly a $9000 tax credit meaning the cost is closer to $31000 – $10000 gas savings over 5-8 years (depending on electricity and driving pattern), = $21,000. Now that math is really simplified, but I could get really detailed for you as I am an engineer.

    Not to mention the car is worth so much more even if it didn’t save gas due to its much better ride/drive quality compared to the Cruze. Its just a great car overall…

  • WaltPA

    “Average gas prices where I live is anywhere between $4.40 to 4.70/gallon.”

    It might be cheaper to move to a place where gas is about a buck cheaper per gallon.

  • alexajohnson

    This post has helped me to have another perspective. I am researching this topic for a paper I am writing. Your article provided me great insight of my topic.
    free cell phone spy software

  • Dilipkumar007

    This has also changed my perspective.Toyota Motor Corp has registered a drop of 31% in net profit for the FY 2011-12. Toyota had to recall over 10 million vehicles during the year 2009 and 2010, which put a dent in the pristine image of the car brand. The world largest car maker, Toyota known for its quality and dependability lost its ace position to American auto major General Motors while other auto majors also grew hopeful. Those natural disaster days are gone and Toyota is back on its feet. Profit figures have propelled along with the production in the last quarter of FY 2012 that is not all the market has projected a jump in profits of about 168% in the coming year. If this turns true, it will be a five-year high for brand Toyota on the global front.

  • carlaimre

    This type of post is always inspiring, and I prefer to read quality content, so it will be glad to see many positive points in this post, writing is simply amazing, thank you for the post.

    cell spyware

  • carlaimre

    I am amazed about your writing skills. I have saved your blog and intend on coming back during the next days.
    clubmz e-spy

  • dan johns

    If you decide to make neti pot solution by yourself, follow these simple neti pot solution recipes. To prepare basic solution ½ teaspoon of salt (unionized or sea salt) and ½ teaspoon of soda should be dissolved in 250 grams of warm sterile, distilled or boiled water. Don’t use tap water. It needs to be filtered first.

  • devinkarli

    Nice blog having nice information. some times we ignore this sort of things & also suffer a lot as well. However we can save a lot with the assistance of these tips for example time,.
    clubmz e-spy

  • CherryMagnusson

    Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last several posts have been kinda boring