GM challenges estimate of huge loss on Volt

DETROIT — General Motors labeled as “grossly wrong” a media report calling the Chevrolet Volt a major money-loser.

Reuters estimated that GM is losing as much as $49,000 on every Volt, but the automaker said the wire service’s calculations ignored that development costs are typically spread out among all vehicles sold over the course of the model’s lifetime.

GM has acknowledged it’s losing money on the Volt, but won’t say how much. But GM argued that its investment will pay off over time as Volt sales accelerate and the cost of the extended-range electric/generator powertrain comes down and is offered in other models over time.

The car, which can travel up to 38 miles on a battery charge before a gasoline-powered generator kicks in, has missed GM’s original sales targets for 2012. Chevrolet sold 2,831 Volts last month, its strongest month since its launch.

Reuters wrote that “the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold.”

“Every investment in technology that GM makes is designed to have a payoff for our customers, to meet future regulatory requirements and add to the bottom line,” GM said in a statement. The Volt is no different, even if it takes longer to become profitable.”

It’s the latest in a series of publicity challenges for the Volt, which conservatives has criticized as the Obama-mobile, despite the fact that it was in the works years before Barack Obama considered running for the White House. The car was first introduced as a concept vehicle in January 2007, two years before Obama took office, and was first sold in fall 2010.

Sales of gasoline-electric hybrids that don’t need to be recharged have risen 65 percent this year through August to 278,680, led by Toyota’s family of Prius models, which accounted for 57 percent of that market segment.

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