Chevrolet Volt, Fiat 500 Named Top Flops of 2011

Chevrolet Volt, Fiat 500 Named Top Flops of 2011

Efficiency is the new black for automakers and consumers alike. Even Porsche customers can get their gas guzzling Cayenne fix in a more efficient hybrid now or diesel soon, which is why it might come as a surprise that two new fuel-efficient guppies in the veritable ocean that is the U.S. car market seem to be floundering.

The Fiat 500 and Chevrolet Volt are both reaching the end of their first fiscal year with disappointing numbers compared to their manufacturer’s forecasts. That outcome could be a bit of a puzzler, given that the 500 starts at $15,500, offers two more seats and, what some would say, stylish alternative to the Smart FourTwo for about $3000 more.

The same fate befell the Volt, which takes a practical approach to the burgeoning plug-in market. Rather than relying totally on a battery charge. Chevy’s iteration on the new trend borrows power from a teensy 1.4-liter gasoline engine and achieves a sky-scraping 94 mpg average with a starting price of just over $39,000 before tax incentives. Those incentives bring the car closer to $30,000, though other government subsidies for things like home charging stations disappear this year.

It doesn’t take a particularly good periscope to see above the water and realize why both these cars were slow sellers, consumers are often risk averse and both cars proved to be sketchy choices by year’s end.

The Volt will fall short of GM’s projected 10,000 unit forecast by at least 25 percent thanks in part to an NHTSA investigation surrounding spontaneous combustion of the lithium ion battery after severe crashes. The car was supposed to be Chevrolet’s poster boy for the future, but instead the crucial first year will be marred by shaky consumer confidence and questions about safety.

The Fiat 500 might have escaped that fate, given its quirky styling and heavy re-engineering for the North American palate, but poor sales proved otherwise.

It also suffered from a sales-scaring three out of five star safety rating by the NHTSA this month. Even without that damning verdict, the hatchback wouldn’t have met the projected 50,000 sales figure— as of November Chrysler’s parent company had managed to squeak out a dismal 17,444 units, with little promise of breaking the 20,000 mark by December 31.

[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]

  • Tinapoli

    What this story leaves out is that Volt sales are increasing every month and passed the Corvette in November. It also leaves out that the Volt has the highest owner satisfaction ratings of any new car. Those that drive them love them. I certainly love getting 150-350 MPG with my Volt. That’s not a typo.

    So, increasing sales, a customer base that loves the Volt, amazing MPG results, buyers replacing high end German and Japanese cars with a Volt, an increase in Chevy showroom traffic and sales, and all this despite a concerted political smear campaign against the car. Flop? Hardly.

    If it were a flop, the Volt bashers would not need to be working so hard to spin the story. After 11,000 miles, we are looking at getting a second Volt, the first has totally trouble free.

    And who might be behind all the negative spin? Follow the money. Who stands to lose if cars that don’t use gasoline catch on in a big way?

  • Yeah


    Talk about spin. I almost threw up after reading your comment. What a joke.

  • MV

    Who proof reads these things before they’re published?

    “Parascope”? Does this writer know there’s no such word in the English dictionary?

    Psst, submarines use a PERISCOPE to see above the water!

    “Palette”? Given the context, the appropriate word is “PALATE”.

    Sheesh, my high school English teacher would have docked me badly for such obvious, glaring errors.

  • spamhater

    what is a “parascope” and how is it used to see above water, and why would one want one that is not very good.

    why buy a smart 4-2 or a fiat 500 when there are so many idiots out there with oversize suburbans, excursions, and jacked up pick-ups to run over anyone is a small vehicle. The smart was a good car in Europe, but was totally screwed over when it was brought to the USA.)
    and why is gm buying back the volt and its exploding battery if it is so great?

  • Colum Wood

    @MV Thanks for keeping us on our toes. You’re right on both counts (the edits have been made). Although, if your teacher docked you badly (or poorly, as the case may be), would they not be adding marks?

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