2010 is well underway, and by the end of the year the first dealer allocations of the Chevrolet Volt should arrive.

GM is gearing up to begin assembly of the first validation build vehicles at the Hamtramck plant scheduled to start next month.  A few hundred of these will be made, in several iterations before the final saleable vehicles begin rolling off the assembly line and headed to showrooms later this year.

Each year GM sends a model year guide to its dealers, and the document shown above just arrived.  According to Leo Karl, owner of Karl Chevrolet in Connecticut, this is "the first sign of VOLT ordering info from Chevrolet."

Here's how Leo explains the process and its meaning:

At the beginning and end of each model year, GM provides dealers with a preliminary schedule showing approximate dates when each model will end production for one model year and when production will begin for the next model year. Recently, they provided this information for the 2010 model year product build-out and the 2011 model year start-up. The 2011 model year start-up chart is the FIRST place Chevy Dealers have seen the model ‘VOLT’ listed! Very exciting!

Every month, GM dealers must submit a ‘consensus’ for product. This process is essentially writing a purchase order from the dealer to General Motors outlining how many of each model line of vehicles that dealership sells they are willing to buy from GM in an upcoming month. Typically, consensus is done one month, the orders are submitted the following month, and then production occurs between 4 and 6 weeks out. The attached chart shows that GM is estimating that dealer’s first opportunity to ‘consense’ to VOLT product will be in September 2010. The chart also shows estimated start of production for the 2011 Chevy VOLT is November 1, 2010. However, the chart also shows that GM expects to post each dealers’ final allocation on their website by November 17th and then dealer order submission (DOSP) by November 18th. Those last two dates are contradictory to the November 1st start of production, so there are still questions. Obviously, this is all preliminary – but the great news is that it is in writing – and it simply marks another milestone along the way to seeing the first retail-ready VOLTS on the road!

A word of caution: In most cases, when a new model is introduced, the quantity of orders requested by Dealers in their monthly consensus is far greater than GM’s actual production capability. Currently, this is the case with the 2010 Equinox and to a degree, still exists with the 2010 Camaro. Dealer’s can ask for the product, but GM just can’t produce enough. So after GM gathers all of the dealer consensus numbers from around the country, then they take the actual number of units they plan to produce in the time period covered by that consensus, and they dole those units out like dealing a deck of cards. Once that allocation process is complete, and only then, does a dealer truly know how many orders of each product line they will get. I suspect that with the VOLT, it could be YEARS before GM can produce an amount of vehicles that is greater than the consensus requests they will get from dealers. Like everyone on this site, those Chevy dealers that have kept abreast of the VOLT’s development are anxiously awaiting more details from GM as to how they plan to roll-out the VOLT in terms of distribution. This chart is just one very preliminary piece of information; and it does not in any way change GM’s public statements that the VOLT will be first available in California, Michigan and Washington DC. We are all waiting….
It is also of interest that though the Cruze is expected to debut this year as well, its dates are still TDB.