Best Sales Month Ever For Volt, Over 2,500 Sold In August. And Here Is Why

2 years ago by Jay Cole 23

GM Enjoys Best Sales Month Ever On 2012/2013 Chevrolet Volts

Not content to wait for their monthly sales report to come out next week, and perhaps wanting to underline the recent news that the Volt’s Michigan assembly facility is definitely not being idled next month due to any lack of demand, General Motors went public with the news that their Chevrolet Volt has set a record for the most units sold in a month for August.

GM spokes lady Michelle Malko said more than 2,500 Volts have been sold during the month.

“We are seeing sales momentum continuing to build for the Volt, especially in  key markets — California, Michigan, Illinois and Florida. We’re  starting to see other markets grow as well. As with a lot of first generation  technologies, it takes time to build customer awareness.”

The company says that although the extended range car’s assembly plant is shutting down for four weeks, starting September 17th, to ‘tool up’ for the new Impala, GM will “build ahead Volt production” to meet demand.  As to what exact the demand will be?  GM says they ”do not comment” on future production.

Why the sudden take off at the end of the 2012 model year, after three months at a selling level of about 1,700?

Malko said, “As people see their neighbors have one and as they start to understand the technology and are able to drive it, they put it into their consideration.”  While also adding that the 2012s were not being discounted to clear lots.

The last statement is where the water starts to get a little murky.

It Is Not A Discount, But An Incentive To Sell

There is no question the Volt has been a solid seller, especially compared to the other plug-in offerings on the market, besting even the plug-in Prius in 3 of the past 4 months.

However, if you have been in the market for a Volt as of late, there is no way to not notice the massive discounting going on in August.

And while GM is right in saying they are not ‘discounting’ the outgoing 2012 Volt over the 2013s, InsideEVs has learned that there is a dealer incentive program running behind the scenes that is exerting enormous pressure on many dealers to move Volts (both 2012 and 2013 model years) for way below invoice pricing during August and into early September.

According to sources to InsideEVs, the program works like this:

GM gives each dealership a target number of Volt sales between May and September.  And if that dealership sells triple that number, the dealer gets a $2,500 credit towards future floor product purchases from GM on EVERY Volt they have sold during this period.  The wind down of this program is September 4th.

Alright, How About $3,000 Off Then? Now Really Is The Time To Buy A Chevy Volt

So, imagine yourself as a dealer; and GM gives you a (3x) magic number of 120 Volts as a sales target.  Now imagine yourself sitting at 100 Volts sold in mid August.   If you move 20 more Volts over the next 2 or 3 weeks, you are going to receive $300,000 in credits from GM.  If you fail to sell those last 20, you are going to get a lot less.

How desperate are you to move those last 20?

What about if you only needed to move 8, like this dealer in Colorado who likely does.  They are offering a 24 month lease for $199/month, calling their sale “8 Volts By September Or Bust!”

To see the dealers fight over Volt sales, take a stroll over to GM-Volt.com’s forums under Buying/Leasing to witness the sea of dealers practically begging people to buy their Volts “well under” invoice.  New Volt’s have been advertised as low as $34,999 for those truely desperate to move metal.

We imagine some dealers simply shrugged the program off as unattainable, many did not.  Right now, a good bulk of those dealers in the second group are attempting to reach GM’s 3x incentive in the dying moments by selling at almost any cost.

But what does this all mean to GM’s sales of the Volt?

It means a really huge, disproportional month of August for sales on the Volt, and because incentive doesn’t expire until September 4th, next month’s sales will have a early head start.

While we should celebrate GM’s success in August (and likely September as well to some degree), we should measure that excitement with an understanding that this month’s impressive result is probably going to come at the expense of October, November and December.

GM quotes via The Detroit News

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23 responses to "Best Sales Month Ever For Volt, Over 2,500 Sold In August. And Here Is Why"

  1. scottf200 says:

    I do think there is a lot to be said for having real owners share their experience with co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Last month a friend bought a Volt (various conversations and personal test drive given) and within a few weeks his father-in-law bought one. Granted they did have good deals going. Depending on what folks were driving/spending before and with the purchaser tax credit or leaser deals (tax credit built in) the car is pretty close to a lot of new cars that have equivalent features. I’m getting close to 20K miles on mine and have taken various 300+ mile road trips recently. 42MPG at 70MPH is not bad at all on these trips!

    1. Jay Cole says:

      100% agree with you Scott. I tried to express a couple times in the article that the Volt is selling really well regardless of this month’s great result (at least in my opinion).

      I know there was some early expectations of higher monthly sales back in 2010-2011. But selling 1,700-2,000 copies most months of a $40,000 car is really, really excellent. There is only a handful of cars that move more, so perspective is needed.

      Hard balance on this story really. August is going to be great, but I think the takeaway is that people should not expect to see this a precursor to 2,500-3,000 selling months into the future.

      1. backstroke says:

        Jay,

        Are you expecting the Volt Gen 1 to stay at this price point till end of life, say 2015, or reduce at some point? If so when, why, and how would that reduction manifest itself?

        1. Jay Cole says:

          I wrote a while big long thing, then i trashed it because it got convuluted.

          Here is the bullet points. I think 100% the Volt price will come down before the next gen. It was supposed to this year, but the crew of Wagoner/Henderson and Whitacre have left the building at GM, and Akerson has taken over. The mantra of margin over market I think 86′d the Volt’s decrease.

          You have 4 players for sure coming in 2013 to take share from the Volt.

          Pip that will go national. and previously wasn’t even on sale in Q1 of 2012 (save a few hundred units in March). Ford Fusion and C-Max Energi, which are closer to Volt EREV specs than the Pip and will crush the Volt’s ICE MPG figure. Then you have what I feel to be, a sure thing on a new entry price for the LEAF coming very shortly (and probably a longer range model to boot)…and the fact Nissan sold next to nothing in 2012.

          No one of these players has a product as advanced, or fundamentally sound as the Volt, but you can argue that they will all take some level of sales from GM in 2013.

          I think you see a lull on pricing/incentives on the Volt through the end of the year to ‘convince’ management they should have lowered the ’13 pricing as was planned. After which, they will be forced to do heavy discounting in early 2013 with a price reduction before or around June of 2013, with the ELR fitting in higher to retain the ‘premium buyers’

          /feel free to bookmark my WAG and come back to me about this time next year, (=

          1. backstroke says:

            Good to read and have someone else have similar views that pricing before long will start to edge down. I’ve been wondering if the current Volt incentives would continue in some form, as an alternative to a blanket price drop, seems to be getting some dealers to push harder, not a bad thing. Will be interesting to see if demand is just being brought forward or whether its being increased. Course we will only know if the incentives end in a week or so.

            On the LEAF MY13, I’m expecting pricing to drop by say $3-5K for a model with similar range to current, hopefully a little more, and new model with extra 30-40% range at or around the current price.

            Yeah maybe I’m being way too hopeful. Time will tell. :)

            1. Jay Cole says:

              The original plan for the LEAF back in ’09-’10 was to start at $32,700 and then when Smyrna was up to drop to the $29,999 range.

              They got started at $32,700, but the 30% falloff of the USD to the Yen, wiped out any profits and has made every car sold since a big money loser. So the price went up to the $35,200 you see now, and they are hestiant to ship and/or advertise the car…still a negative margin I am sure for every car they move.

              The question is does Smyrna production in December fully reset those plans? IDK, we will see.

          2. Mark H says:

            For now I anxiously await the Tuesday Cole report to see the results of “the pie”. For the past five months the average monthly total EV sales have been a little over 3300 with the high just above 3800. So the Volt pulls over 2500 of that pie in August. Is there only 1300 left or does the pie grow? Can’t wait till Tuesday for the Cole report!

            It is helpful to watch the global market planning in China/India/Russia/Europe/etc by the entire staff here because sometimes these numbers are like watching grass grow.

  2. Malcolm Scott says:

    An observation from far away – would not the US tax credit realisation effect sustain accelerated sales through the later months of the year, as would seem to have been the case last year?

    March sales this year are way outside any trend.

    The GM incentives have either filled in a sales hole that occured last year at this time, or have tried to create a step change in the underlying sales rate.

    Irrespective, they now have some real data for price/volume decisions.

    Holden had a big Volt media journo event yesterday and today, that has resulted in another big discussion here in Australia as to whether a Volt (mostly premium spec) at $60k is value compared with the market and compared with the US market. Looking to see what GM or whether GM reports Holden Volt production in the Hamtramck production figures.

  3. vdiv says:

    Bugger! Now pure EV drivers will never find an available charging station when they need one! :p

    1. Brian says:

      If only I had this problem. The way public charging is priced around here, a Volt owner would have to pay $10/gallon for gas to break even. I don’t see many people paying those prices when they can fall back on burning gas for $4/gallon

      1. Mark H says:

        1) The Volt is an EREV and for the most part does not use a charging station. Charges fully overnight on a regular 110 outlet. If you run out of charge, you just drive on gas like any car on the road today.
        2) If you drive 15,000 miles per year and consider the average price of gas to be $4.80 through the year 2020, the Volt compares to Accord/Camry/etc in price today at its current price! Not to mention it has the pep of a 6cyl ICE and great handling due to a lower center of gravity.

        http://www.afdc.energy.gov/calc/

  4. GeorgeS says:

    Great news whatever the reason.
    If you want a Volt then get your butt out there and grab one. You won’t be disappointed.
    It is the nicest car I have ever owned.
    Truly an engineering masterpiece!

    1. Jason says:

      Thats the truth! Get out and get a Volt & get a chance to beat up a dealer for once

    2. vdiv says:

      Get two while at it as your significant other is sure to steal yours.

  5. Volt Driver says:

    A lot of truth to this link, as I suspect September numbers will be down, but there are also some statements I don’t agree with.

    1) The Volt has been on a steady upwind climb since the fall from the spike in March. To say it has been steady around 1,700 really isnt true. Every month after April has seen improved sales figures. Had we continued that improvement, a number about 2,000 would not be unreasonable, Volts being discounted or not.

    2) The sales of the Volt are likely to accelerate to the end of the year, then drop significantly in January. Why? Because people know they will not have to wait very long for their tax credit. In January the clock resets, and so do Volt sales. So I am expecting sales above 2,000 a month for the rest of the year, especially since gas prices have been on the rise.

    There are millions of potential Volt buyers in this country. This is very much a car which is sold by tales of its owners to neighbors and friends. This is something that will continue to feed the Volt sales hopper, beyoind just early adopters.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Its fun to predict. I did only say it has jumped after “3 months of a selling level of about 1,700.” A lot of other things happened early in the year, HOV stickers, sell-off of non-HOV, plant closure for a month into April, etc.

      The +/- is only 169 cars over the three months. I would suggest that the mounting pressure of the incentive was as much the reason for the marginal increase as improving demand. Again, such a small variance, I wouldn’t even get behind my own reasoning that much, lol.

      May 1,680
      Jun 1,760
      Jul 1,849

      Anywhoo, I appreciate your conjecture and do agree with you that the credit refund proximity to the time of purchase late in the year is another good incentive.

      I think October will be the month that really gives us the best look at what the Volt’s natural demand level is.

      1. Delta says:

        Is there any specials or dealer incentives in Canada 4 Volt like they have in US?

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Not even close. However, there is zero reason to just pick one up from the US and bring it up, other than at some point you may have more difficulty flipping a US car.

          You can grab a new US car for around 34-35k until Tuesday, and as long as you first register the car in Canada, you can get still get the provincial rebates…at least I personally know you can in Ontario, (=

          Of late the percentage or two you can make on the currency with cover your transport/fees at the border, which are very little. I’d say your looking at about $39,000 all in (after all taxes paid) on a base, then you get the $8,231.00, for a end zone price of about $30,800.

          From the dealer up here, your going to be around $49,000 (all-in, if your lucky), less the $8,231, for about $40,800.

  6. Stuart22 says:

    Special discount sales events usually are meant to move things nobody wants, but this one happening with the Volt is anything but. Its demand potential has been building for months and if anything, this incentive sale on the Volt has helped burst the dam holding things back. I confess I crossed the line myself this past weekend on a loaded Crystal Red 2012 Volt and I couldn’t be happier.

    The Volt has been misunderstood by the masses and dismissed by many EVenthusiasts, but its virtues were bound to win out. Thankfully the new GM has stuck with it and now I believe it’s going to set the direction of EV development for years to come.

    I think as time goes by and volume goes up, GM will better be able to afford and therefore justify more carrot-dangling events to help turn the increasingly widespread interest into actual sales.

    1. Jason says:

      Congratulations on the purchase Stuart you have made a smart purchase! Now tell us how much you paid. Ha!

    2. Mark H says:

      Congratulations Stuart! You daily drive just got a lot more enjoyable and less expensive.

      1. Stuart22 says:

        Thanks guys, it’s a good feeling to be driving on electrons, so much that I feel guilty when the generator kicks in, oh well…. It’s fun to stretch the EV range as far as I can.

  7. Stefan says:

    That wasn’t entirely accurate. If the dealer didn’t hit their goal and get the $2500, they still got up to $2000 per unit retro back to #1.