Did my wife just adopt an orphan?

General Motors (NYS: GM) is halting production of Chevy Volt vehicles. The Michigan plant that assembles the battery-powered hybrid will suspend production for five weeks at the end of next week, and that comes after a prolonged holiday shutdown.

GM sold 1,023 Volts in February. My wife and I bought one of them.

It seemed as if the car -- which logs the first 40 or so miles on electric between charges before switching over to a nine-gallon tank of gas of nearly 300 more miles -- was finally starting to come into its own. After falling short of its goal of selling 10,000 cars last year and negative press surrounding its battery-pack woes, sales were revving up.

GM sold a mere 676 Volts before the 1,023 units that cleared out last month.

Even though GM sold more than twice as many Volts as Nissan (OTC: NSANY) did with its Leaf last month, it's been hard to catch a break.

There aren't too many plug-in vehicles on the road, but that will change. Tesla's (NAS: TSLA) Model S sedan hits the market in July, with the recently unveiled Model X crossover SUV shooting for a 2014 release. Ford (NYS: F) is about to crank out an all-electric Focus. Tesla partner Toyota (NYS: TM) is working on an all-electric version of its RAV4 compact SUV.

Between reports of Tesla battery failures and GM idling its Volt plant through mid-April, it's hard to get too excited about the prospects of the new initiatives.

The move to halt production at the Volt plant is definitely going to send the kind of message that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In showing my wife's car to my father over the weekend, he told me that he heard that GM was killing the Volt. This is how misinformation starts. A five-week production lull gets misinterpreted.

It also doesn't help that GM in general and the Volt in particular have become the center of an unwelcome political tussle.

My wife isn't going through buyer's remorse. She loves her Volt, and it has impressed her friends on both side of the political electric fence. In retrospect, maybe we should've leased the car instead of buying it outright. In a move to clear unplugged and unloved Volts, GM just dropped the monthly lease price from $399 to $350 a month.

At a time when gas prices are nearing multiyear highs, it seems silly for GM to temporarily freeze the production of Volts. As bad as sales may have been, the news is -- pardon the wordplay -- shocking.

Hit the road
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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford Motor, Tesla Motors, and General Motors. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for Ford. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

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11 Comments

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KickinCanada

I own a Volt in one of the coldest climates in North America and its a pretty cool car. I'm not an environmentalist (previous ride was a Ford Expedition) but it's not as expensive as one would think. With incentives and saving $2000 a year in gas and maintenance (oil changes once every 2 years, brakes last 100K minimum) over 5 years that's lots of $$$ towards the purchase. So about $25-30K for a really advanced car is actually in line with the average cost of a new car these days. And it isn't a Cruze - more like a 3 series bmw! And as for incentives - kill any for big oil and gas, mortgage deductions etc and then we can talk.
Its range is pretty good - 45 miles in the spring / summer / fall on battery - more if you use gas. If you charge at work or in between drives you can actually go 70-100 miles per day on electric - basically you get to give the oil companies the middle finger when you drive by the gas station. Weird to spend more on car washes than gas. And my hydro bill has gone up about $30-40 a month. I also love the fact I am using a domestic source of fuel and not relying on sources of energy produced by hostile regimes.
One more thing - the battery will likely outlast the car as the battery and all electrical components of Volt, Leaf, etc are warrantied for 8 years.
Bottom line is the Volt is a great fun car with great service and support from GM. People really need to get out and test drive one. And it looks great to.
David in Ottawa, Canada

March 10 2012 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ed Kim

This is where American companies need to suck it up and stop being such "quarterly earnings report" wussies. Staying the course on the Volt is one of such moments.

March 05 2012 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GTL

Relentless attacks on the Chevy Volt from Rush Limbaugh and Republican politicians have taken their toll, as General Motors has announced a five-week suspension in production of the range-extended electric car. Conservative enemies of clean energy and the Obama administration seized on isolated reports Volts with battery fires, calling the cars “Obama-mandated death traps.” Limbaugh even said GM was a “corporation that’s trying to kill its customers.”

March 05 2012 at 11:42 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to GTL's comment
tbirdal

you are giving too much credit to RL and the Republicans. One doesn’t have to be a fan of RL or a conservative to see the defects in the Volt, like the MRSP for starters. Go to the website “The truth about cars” for an honest , non political view on the Volt.

March 05 2012 at 12:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ed Kim

This is where American companies need to suck it up and stop being such "quarterly earnings report" wussies. Staying the course on the Volt is one of such moments.

March 05 2012 at 11:41 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Ed Kim

This is where American companies need to suck it up and stop being such "quarterly earnings report" wussies. Staying the course on the Volt is one of such moments.

March 05 2012 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Katt

At $40,000+, the Chevy Volt is TOO EXPENSIVE. You will end up saving much more money by buying a $30,000 Prius or even a 40 MPG Ford Focus for $16,000.

March 05 2012 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Katt

At $40,000+, the Chevy Volt is TOO EXPENSIVE. You will end up saving much more money by buying a $30,000 Prius or even a 40 MPG Ford Focus for $16,000.

March 05 2012 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Agnt Duke

I went with the Cruze (manual six speed) over the Volt. I have not been disappointed. Getting over 40 mpg is not something to take lightly. I think they have been hurt by their own success with the Cruze, which is the same exact car, minus the electrics/hybrid.

March 05 2012 at 11:10 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Agnt Duke

I went with the Cruze (manual six speed) over the Volt. I have not been disappointed. Getting over 40 mpg is not something to take lightly. I think they have been hurt by their own success with the Cruze, which is the same exact car, minus the electrics/hybrid.

March 05 2012 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dawn

These electric cars are by no means 'sustainable" as they rely heavily on rare eartn metals and other scarce resources, and they are powered by coal for the most part. Electric power itself is far more wasteful than alternatives. Let Obama's pet project die a natural death. The Volt is nothing more than an electrified turd. Dump it while you can.

March 05 2012 at 10:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply