This is more an attempt at a thought provoking ramble than a cogent argument, so you've been warned. Volt a Flop? GM sold just under 7,700 Volts in 2011 - well short of the stated goal of 10,000 units. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that Chevy dealers don't want to take on their allotments of Volts. There is also the battery fire recall issue that has been in the press for some time, though it does not seem to be a fatal issue with the design of the car. To add some perspective, Nissan sold 9,674 of its all-electric LEAF in 2011. This also falls short of Nissan's own 10,000-unit goal, but is so close it's hard to call that a failure. Why People Don't like Hybrids and Electrics But for that matter, is the Volt the failure that so may seem to think it is? Top Gear ripped the LEAF in their review of the car (I shudder to think what they would say about the Volt), but most of their criticisms focused on the power source (mostly coal) and the feel-good, save-the-polar bears marketing approach rather than the car itself. I think the same arguments explain much of the negative press the Volt is getting. Many people find the "you're saving the world" marketing approach to selling hybrids and electrics to be smug and nauseating. I know it annoys me at times. "Greenness" only gets you so far in actually selling cars. The fuel economy benefits are often seen as largely offset by the inital price of the cars and anyway a diesel is just as efficient - more efficient when cruising actually. The math behind this thinking seems infinitely arguable, but the fact is there is an argument - doubt. There is also a perception that only wealthy yuppies and celebrities can afford to buy these cars. Finally, there is a very real, serious and ongoing political battle in the U.S.over whether the subsidization of the design, production, sale and ownership of these kinds of cars is really worth the cost. This last the most complicated and perhaps the most important factor in the advent of hybrid/electric cars. The Counter-Argument Taking all these factors together, hybrids and electrics seem like a very high risk proposition. But then there is the Toyota Pious -er, Prius. Toyota took an arguably much bigger risk than Nissan or GM and introduced a hybrid 15 years ago. They have since sold over 3 million of them. So does the argument that the Volt is too much, too soon really hold any water? Let's not forget one further little wrinkle - the GM EV1. At the time the EV1 program was cancelled, the popular verdict was that it was an interesting dead end. History has proven that verdict to be sadly off the mark in my opinion, and there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that GM was developing, and should have contiuned to develop, a hybrid successor to the EV1 that could have come to market a decade ago. GM decided that the program would never be profitable - but Toyota has, in my opinion, emphatically proved them wrong with the Prius. People want to buy these kinds of cars - not just a few aged hippie/yuppies, but lots of other people. Where are Hybrids Heading? I consider myself an auto enthusiast, and I admit I don't think I will become a hybrid owner in the foreseeable future. But I think that hybrids and electrics make sense for certain drivers, and that the market for these cars will make more sense as our infrastructure adapts to the needs of such cars. That is a key issue though - plug-in cars are only as clean as the grid, and right now the grid is arguably dirtier than gasoline-powered cars. However, the grid has the potential to be much cleaner - much more so than gasoline-powered cars. So, Chevy may have been foolish to declare a 10,000-unit sales goal, but they still sold a lot of Volts. If they stick with the concept, I think it can be as big a success as the Prius. The LEAF also seems like a successful product in my eyes, and the more the market is exposed to such cars the more it will accept them. A diesel can still get similar or better fuel economy and is cheaper, more reliable and more familiar, but the potential (and, once again, on that word hinges the future of the breed) environmental and economy benefits of the hybrid/electric concept should not be ignored. Despite the technological hurdles, it is certain that hybrids and electrics will eventually become much more efficient and much cleaner than they are today. The Volt has been burdened by huge expectations and nasty political wrangling, so it's no surprise many are labelling it a flop. I'm not Chevy enthusiast, but I think GM ought to perservere with this design - I don't think the American auto industry can afford not to, to be honest. These cars may still be a little ahead of their time, but waiting until "their time" to get into the game is far too late, in my opinion.