American auto giant General Motors has rolled the last ever Chevy Volt (or as it is badged in Australia, Holden Volt) off the line at its Detroit auto plant, ending 9 years of production two weeks ahead of schedule.
A ceremony honouring the last Chevy Volt was held at GM’s Hamtramck factory on February 15, 2019, marking the end of an era for the auto giant, who introduced the plug-in hybrid in 2010 and went into full production mode in 2011.
General Motors announced late last year that it would be embracing the age of electric mobility, in a dramatic turnaround from campaigning for looser fuel regulations to announcing drastic measures such as cutting staff, and shutting five ICE factories to fund and streamline EV R&D and production.
At the time, it announced that 6 sedan models would face the chopping block, including the PHEV Chevy Volt – all facing the rise in popularity of SUVs over sedans.
While the Hamtramck factory is one of the five slated for axing in the “Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion” restructure that will see the carmaker slash costs by $US4.5 billion ($A6.2 billion) and reduce annual capex by $US1.5 billion ($A2 billion) by 2020, GM says it will keep it open to produce the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 for seven more months.
Around 160,000 units of the Chevy Volt were made over its production life, with the majority of sales in the US (over 152,000 as of December 2018 according to Car Sales Database).
The Chevy Volt made an appearance on the Australian market in 2012 in right-hand drive format and under the brand name Holden but was cut from production in 2015.
In those three years, only 246 models were ever sold, according to Car Advice – at a price of $59,990 before on-road costs it just didn’t add up for many drivers.
It didn’t add up financially for General Motors either, but according to retired GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz who was at the vanguard of its production, the Chevy Volt did bridge the gap between ICE vehicles and electric.
“While it was a financial loser, it did what was intended,” Lutz told the New York Times.
“We viewed it as a stepping stone to full electrics, which were totally out of reach due to the then-astronomical cost of lithium-ion batteries.”
General Motors followed up the Volt with its all-electric Bolt, which has a range of up to 383km and 150kW motor, introducing it in late 2016.
While Holden reportedly lodged a trademark for the Holden Bolt in August 2017, it has still not announced any plans to bring it to market in Australia.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.