Need a boost?

U.S. President Barack Obama tested the Volt, calling it ‘pretty smooth’
Larry Downing/Reuters

Ever since its unveiling in 2007, General Motor’s Volt plug-in car has been held up as the future of the troubled automaker. It was meant to prove that GM, then barrelling toward bankruptcy and a bailout, could still lead the industry with high-tech vehicles dripping with car-magazine cool. But appetite for the Volt appears to be on the wane just as GM gears up to finally start selling it in the U.S. this fall (it won’t be available in Canada until next summer).

The car, which started as a low-slung concept, now looks like a somewhat dull sedan, which can only be driven 64 km on an electric charge before a small gasoline engine kicks in. Potential buyers are also balking at its US$41,000 price tag. That’s US$8,220 more than Nissan’s planned Leaf electric car, which gets 160 km on a single overnight charge, albeit without a backup motor. The fear now is that the Volt will just leave buyers in sticker shock.