GM’s Decision to Make 2016 Volt LHD Only, Poor Sales, Means Australia Says Goodbye to Volt

In its home market of the United States of America, the Chevrolet Volt has proven a consistently strong-selling plug-in car. Since its launch in December 2010, more than 75,200 Volts had been sold in the U.S. to the end of March, just over 1,000 cars less than the current U.S. plug-in champion, the Nissan LEAF electric hatch.

The Holden Volt will cease production and sales this year.

The Holden Volt will cease production and sales this year.

But in Europe, where the Volt’s American styling, high sticker price and four-seat design met with apathy from buyers, neither the Chevy Volt nor its European-styled sibling the Vauxhall/Opel Ampera experienced strong sales. Ultimately, this lead to GM cancelling both the Volt and eventually the Ampera in Europe. Worse still, there’s little chance the all-new 2016 Volt will be offered there, with GM saying the Volt just isn’t right for European tastes.

Now it seems Australia is following suit with the news Holden — GM’s Australian brand — has announced the Volt will soon be bidding adieu to the Antipodean nation.

As Motoring.com.au explains, just 246 Holden Volts have been sold in Australia since the model went on sale there in 2012, making the Volt an unmitigated disaster down under.

Why? There’s a multitude of reasons, ranging from the Volt’s $60,000 AUS sticker price, a complete lack of subsidies for plug-in buyers in most areas, a complete lack of public charging infrastructure, and a fairly conservative government whose attitude towards climate change and carbon emissions is less than ideal.

Poor sales aren't exclusively to blame: GM isn't making any right-hand drive second-generation Volts.

Poor sales aren’t exclusively to blame: GM isn’t making any right-hand drive second-generation Volts.

“Electric and hybrid vehicles haven’t taken off in Australia,” said Holden’s director of communications Sean Poppitt. “Considering the lack of infrastructure, the lack of government incentives, the large distances between cities, it’s a tough sell.”

But while sales of hybrid, plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid cars make up less than three percent of all new car sales in Australia, it turns out poor sales isn’t the reason for the Volt’s departure.

General Motors’ Detroit Hamtramck facility, where the Volt is currently made, has announced it won’t be making any right-hand drive versions of the Volt, meaning Australian, and British customers won’t ever get the second-generation plug-in.

Neither will the handful of other markets that could have theoretically welcomed the next-generation Volt, including the Republic of Ireland, India and New Zealand.

GM may introduce a plug-in vehicle of some sort in the future, but incentives and infrastructure would need to come first.

GM may introduce a plug-in vehicle of some sort in the future, but incentives and infrastructure would need to come first.

That’s a disappointment for Holden says Poppitt, who believes that the future for electric vehicles and hybrid cars in Australia isn’t all bad news. When asked if Holden would consider a future plug-in model, Poppitt was optimistic.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The Volt is not being offered in the next-generation in right-hand drive — our hands are tied there — but GM is constantly looking at various different hybridisation and electric options. We’ll continue to evaluate everything that’s possibly available for our market, absolutely.”

To date, the few plug-in cars that have been offered in Australia have suffered similarly low sales figures to the Volt. But there is at least hope for plug-in fans: earlier this month, Tesla Motors showcased its plans to build a Supercharger corridor for owners of its Model S luxury electric sedan from Melbourne to Brisbane, making long-distance travel a reality for those along Australia’s eastern shores.

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  • Michael Thwaite

    What about the UK?

    • Quote from article : “General Motorsu2019 Detroit Hamtramck facility, where the Volt is currently made, has announced it wonu2019t be making any right-hand drive versions of the Volt, meaning Australian, and British customers wonu2019t ever get the second-generation plug-in.”

  • vdiv

    And now we know how serious GM is with the new Volt (hint: less than with the first one). What remains to be seen is how serious they are with the Bolt, which after all was conceived in GM’s Australia Design studio in Melbourne (with the help of their Korean colleagues).

    • D. Harrower

      Yeah, it doesn’t exactly scream “We believe in this product!”, does it?

  • jfm

    Disappointing, and even sounds a little crazy. Sure the economics are better to make the newer car available, even if in smaller numbers:nnCorrect me if I am wrong, but GM/Holden/Ampera have to support the existing Volts they have sold in their respective countries – infrastructure they have committed to for maybe the next 20 years or so (parts, servicing).nnSo surely it is better to keep new models coming through to improve the economies of scale?

  • Jeffery The Giraffee

    Government Motors stills sucks I see.

  • jttc

    “Neither will the handful of other markets that could have theoretically welcomed the next-generation Volt, including the Republic of Ireland, India and New Zealand”nnnThe first generation Volt/Ampera wasn’t even offered in Ireland. Here, if you want a plug in car for a reasonable price, it’s the Nissan Leaf or nothing.

  • Jon Jennings

    Very stupid decision after so much R&D, time, passion and effort has been invested in this car not to offer the car in as many markets as possible.
    Europeans have been in love with diesels for a long time because of their mpg figurers, however this love affair is somewhat fading due to the pollution diesels create. People car slowly coming around to hybrids, but it takes time, VW now have the GTE golf, Toyota the plug in prius. GM needs to continue plugging away at prompting the volt, it’s only a matter of time until sales increase.