By Steve Hanley
Update: The limited 2016 Volt rollout has apparently been officially confirmed. GM spokesperson, Kevin Kelly, delivered the following official statement: “Chevrolet has a shortened model year for the 2016 Chevy Volt that will have a limited distribution network. The 2016 Volt will be sold in our strongest EREV markets. The 2017 Chevrolet Volt will begin production early this spring and will be available throughout the country.”
Word on the internet is that full production for the next-generation Chevy Volt (2016 Chevy Volt) may be delayed until February or March. A rumor about this began a few days ago when some Chevrolet dealers who are big supporters of the Volt program complained on Facebook that their cars were being delayed.
At first, the GM-Volt.com forum dismissed this as an unsubstantiated rumor, until the picture you see above made its way onto the internet. It shows an internal GM document called the Timeline, a way that Chevy uses to keep its dealers informed about when to expect new models. The acronym DSOP stands for “dealer standard operating procedure” and it clearly shows production of the 2016 Chevy Volt began on August 26, but only for cars destined for dealers in California and the other 10 states that adhere to the emissions standards prescribed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
Those other states are Connecticut, Massachussetts, Maryland , Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Look over on the right of the photo and you will see that production of cars intended for the other 39 states (and Canada?) is now scheduled for February and March of next year. The Timeline indicates those states will receive no 2016 cars at all. When they do get cars — in the Spring of 2016 — they will be designated as 2017 models. [Editor’s Note: I tried to get a 2016 Volt media loaner or late October when I will be in Florida presenting at the EV Transportation & Technology Summit, and despite a lot of work on the part of my contact, it turned out I couldn’t get one because Chevy wouldn’t have any in the Florida fleet by that time.]
Why is that? No one knows and Chevrolet is not saying. Representatives of Inside EVs and Hybrid Cars have reached out to GM for confirmation but have received no response. Unfortuanately, a lack of information always leads to speculation, some of it plausible and some of it ridiculous. Some people at the Volt forum have suggested there is a serious problem with the cars, but if that were true, Chevy would not be building any of them for any markets.
The more likely explanation is that Chevy is waiting for production of the all-new aluminum engine for the next-generation Volt to shift from Mexico, where the engine is built today, to the company’s engine plant in Flint, Michigan. Chevy announced that move some time ago. Perhaps it wants to be able to talk about how the car is mostly American made when it begins its advertising campaign to introduce the new car. That would make some sense.
Whatever the reason, a delay of a few months is not all that unusual in the car business. The Tesla Model X has been delayed for two years (and counting) and the new Toyota Prius was supposed to be here a year ago. Will there be any discernible difference between the early and the later Gen-2 Chevy Volts? No one knows at this point. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.
The one thing this kerfuffle makes clear is that cameras are everywhere today and keeping company secrets is getting tougher and tougher. The dealers who started all this by posting on Facebook are probably surprised that anyone paid any attention to their posts, but they shouldn’t be. Using Facebook for anything is like sending an e-mail directly to every person on earth. Why more people don’t realize that is a great mystery.
Of course, maybe the dealers knew exactly what they were doing.