Chevy Dealers Hesitant to Buy Volt Service Tools

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Some Chevrolet dealers are dropping the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid because they don’t want to spend the money on tools and training required to maintain the cars– and the dealership’s Volt certifications. (Photo courtesy General Motors.)

Some Chevrolet dealers aren’t sure it’s worth it to spend five large on special equipment needed to perform routine service on the Chevy Volt.

According to Automotive News, some Chevrolet dealers have even stopped carrying the brand’s first extended-range electric vehicle because, in those dealers’ estimation, the sales of the Volt didn’t justify the expenditure of an extra $5,100 for tools needed to service the vehicle.

The costs come as GM has decided it wants dealer service departments to remove faulty sections of the Volt’s battery pack and send them back to the mothership for repairs rather than removing and shipping the entire battery pack, which weighs on the order of 435 lbs. To do that, a dealership would need a $4,735 tool that completely drains the battery to make removal of the faulty section safe.

The article did not specify what the rest of the $5,100 cost came from, although one might speculate it would be for training dealer service technicians on using the tool and safely performing the service. It would not be the first time dealers with Volt certification had undertaken cost to maintain Volt certification, either: The article said last year, Volt dealers spent $1,800 to $2,800 on tools, and mentioned dealers who had spent thousands on training, tools, and charging stations two years ago at the model’s launch.

GM spokesperson Michelle Malcho said the costs were not in an attempt, contrary to some small-town dealers’ suspicions, to force the smaller dealers out of being Volt dealerships so that major market dealers got all Volt sales. She said the practice of requiring dealers to purchase special tools or undergo training in order to sell and service a given model was “pretty standard,” Automotive News reported. Malcho reportedly said the dealers who have quit selling Volts over the cost issues account for less than one percent of Volt sales.

Smalltown dealer principal John Holt, of the eponymous Chevrolet-Cadillac dealer in Chickasha, OK, said he had sold five Volts since the car’s introduction. Despite that low number, he said he wanted to maintain the certification because the Cadillac ELR extended-range hybrid is something he wants to sell.

“…with the new Cadillac coming, I figured I’d be foolish not to buy the damn $5,100 tool,” Holt said.

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