Remember the old adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity?” You may not want to mention it if you run into a General Motors executive anytime soon. GM saw its prized Chevy Volt’s January sales plummet over 60 percent due, at least in part, to negative publicity over alleged fire risks.
As we previously posted last November, the Chevy Volt – GM’s extended electric car – was alleged to be at risk to catch fire due to potential design flaws. The bad press continued in December in the mainstream media. The result? In January of 2012, GM sold a whopping 603 Chevy Volts. This was down from 1529 units the prior month. By comparison, Nissan Leaf sales were also down in January, but only from 954 to 676.
So it certainly appears that the alleged fire risk played a large role in the declining sales, even though it may not account for the entire decline.
Both GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently concluded that the alleged fire threat is much ado about nothing. As we also posted in January, we are pretty confident this investigation was completely on the up and up. It’s not like the NHTSA and the federal government have a vested interest in GM, right? As an extra incentive, perhaps the feds should throw in a fire extinguisher along with the $7,500 tax credit that buyers get when they purchase a Volt. They could certainly afford a few fire extinguishers since it doesn’t look like GM will ever sell all of the 200,000 units for which the feds agreed to provide that tax credit. But we digress.
All of this just goes to show, even if the lawsuits over a defective product don’t get you, the bad press might. Then again, we’re pretty sure some sort of class-action lawsuit will follow shortly. They always do, right? Stay tuned.