Last month General Motors informed its Chevrolet dealers of the requirements they should fulfill if they want to keep selling and servicing the Volt from January of 2013.
Among the prerequisites for Chevy dealers is an additional US$5,100 they had to pay for specialized tools needed to service the extended-range hybrid, the bulk of which, US$4,735, accounts for a battery de-powering tool. This is needed to drain the battery and remove sections of it, rather than the whole pack, and send them back to GM for repair.
One of them is Jim Barnard Chevrolet in Churchville, N.Y. Allyn Barnard, owner of the dealership, said that the five hybrids he has sold in the past two years merely enabled him to break even on the five grand he had spent on tools, training and charging stations.
Thus, the extra cost just isn’t acceptable: “Going forward, the profitability would be really hard for us to justify the expense of the repair tools”, he told Automotive News.
John Holt, owner of the Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership that bears his names, has also sold only five Volts since 2011. In contrast to Barnard, he decided to spend the extra money on the tools as he wants to sell and service the new Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid coupe that will go on sale next year and is based on the Volt’s architecture.
"I've heard that a lot of the non-metro dealers have opted out of the certified Volt program, but with the new Cadillac coming, I figured I'd be foolish not to buy the damn $5,100 tool," he told the publication.
GM spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said “it’s pretty standard” to require dealers to buy specialized tools in order to service certain models. She wouldn’t say how many dealers had quit the program, only that they account for less than one percent of the Volt’s total sales.
She also refuted some dealers’ allegations that GM is increasing the costs because it wants a smaller network that would lead customers to higher-volume dealerships and regions.
By Andrew TsaousisStory References: Automotive News