Chevrolet Volt misses 2011 sales target amid safety concerns image

GM failed to meet the U.S. sales target of 10, 000 Chevrolet Volts in 2011, the company announced.

In December, Chevrolet dealers sold 1,529 Volts, leaving the brand 2,329 units short of its annual goal. U.S. dealers sold a total of 7,671 Volts last year. The federal investigation of three fires that occured following Volt crash tests affected demand for the car, as did the slow production pace that kept dealer supplies short until December. The Volt is still being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the battery fires.

Another cause for the slow start of Volt sales was availability, with December only the third month in which Chevy dealers sold the car in all 50 states. GM let its dealers sell as many as 2,300 demonstration models to retail buyers starting in late November, with sales increasing 2.8 percent compared to October as a consequence. November was the best month yet for the Volt.

The NHTSA investigation may harm not only the reputation of the Volt, but of other electric vehicles as well. Similar lithium-ion batteries to those used in the Volt are also installed in models such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster. In 2012, GM wants to produce 60,000 Volts, with 45,000 of them destined for the U.S.