4 Weeks This TimeIt looks like GM's bean counters have overestimated the demand for the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. It might not be entirely their fault, as a lot of factors are outside the control of the company - such as the world economy - and it's always harder to make projections for products that are unlike anything else you've been selling. But still, it's a sad state of affairs; GM has announced that they would idle the Detroit-Hamtramck plant where the Volt is made for 4 weeks, and it's not the first time that this happens (they did the same thing back in March).
The plant shutdown will take place between September 17 and October 15, and 1,500 workers will be affected.
Temporary SetbackAs I mentioned elsewhere, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Early-adopters are rarely numerous enough to turn a new product category into a big hit. There's usually a second group of savvy buyers who are waiting in the wings for the early-version bugs to be ironed out and for prices to come down a bit, and once these are in, the truly mass-market buyer starts to get used to the idea and begins to consider buying one too. It happened to the Prius, and I think that over time a similar thing will happen to plug-in cars; the timing will depend on many factors, like the economy and gas prices and carbon pricing and so on...
The bottom line remains that plug-in vehicles make sense, and are improving rapidly, faster than gas-powered vehicles. At some point they'll overtake them. Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later.