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Blunder Buses: Chevrolet Volt

4 weeks ago

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Richard Bremner | Journalist


26 March 2024

The Chevrolet Volt did not bankrupt General Motors, but General Motors was bankrupted during its birth. The Volt was not a helpful product to feature in GM’s 2009 post-Chapter 11 catalogue either, this radical car losing the company tens of thousands of dollars with every unit sold. Its failure to find many buyers was thus double-edged for GM: each Volt that never got built actually saved the company money.

None of which means that the Volt – and our local version, the Vauxhall Ampera – were failures in themselves. This was a remarkable car, part-undone by the brand wrappings in which it came, of which there were more than you might think, part by the economic environment into which it was launched, an environment crucially different from the one in which it was conceived.

Despite the massive PR effort behind this bold new car, an effort in almost inverse proportion to the sales achieved, the Volt and Ampera are almost forgotten today. So if you’re one of many wondering exactly what these cars were, and why they were important, allow me to explain.

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