It’s true that sales of the Volt haven't quite taken off in the way Chevrolet intended. Even in the US, where it is subsidized by the federal government as well as by some states like California, it hasn't been able to come close to GM's goal of 45,000 units in 2012 - though at 10,666 deliveries from January to July, it sold more than triple the numbers of the Nissan Leaf at 3,543 units in the same period.
It makes perfect sense then that it is almost non-existent in China, where its US$40K price is nearly doubled due to taxation imposed by the government on imported cars.
This is a fact that GM representatives readily acknowledge. Ray Bierzynski, the company’s head of electric vehicle strategy in China, won’t disclose any sales figure, but told Automotive News that the Volt is “a very low-volume” car.
Nevertheless, GM, which is China's automotive market leader, is far from deterred by the Volt’s failure. In addition to the hybrid Cadillac Escalade and the Buick LaCrosse eAssist, it plans to sell the Cadillac ELR hybrid luxury coupe and is currently pondering an all-electric variant of the Chevrolet Sail, its Chinese-market best seller.
“There’s work going on that”, said Bierzynski referring to an EV version of the Sail, “but we have not made any decision direction on production, volume, timing, any of that.”
GM’s course of action can be attributed to the Chinese government’s push for alternative energy vehicles: its target is to have at least half a million EVs and hybrids on its roads in just three years’ time, and an astounding 5 million by 2020.
With China’s tax policy being what it is, GM will have to manufacture its hybrids and EVs locally in order to make them volume sellers. To that end, it has already testing battery packs provided by local suppliers.