Chevrolet Volt Sales Cut In Half For November As Heavy Incentive Programs End

1 year ago by Jay Cole 11

A Little Rain Fell On Chevrolet Volt Sales For November

In November General Motors sold 1,519 Chevy Volts, a result GM touts as being a 33 percent increase” year-over-year.

Unfortunately, on a month to month basis, the Volt sold only about half what they did in October, when the company set an all-time high for it’s extended range plug-in electric car at 2,961.

While many will see this month’s result as a failure of sorts, it really is not; at least if you looking at it from General Motor’s point of view.  November was the month that the General finally showed some restraint and put an end to layering multiple incentives on the Volt to move excess inventory, partially due to low levels after a 4 week shut down of their assembly facility in October to start work on the 2013 Malibu.

GM spokespeople suggested there had been some demand pressure in California at some dealerships that had experienced lessened inventories as a result of the plant idling.

Gone were the deep discounts off the MSRP coupled with extreme low finances rates.   Instead a more measured road was taken; and while some generous rebates were still available on the handfull of 2012s left (up to $3,000), the same was not the case for the 2013s, while financing options inched closer to market norms.

The average total incentive in November on the Volt was estimated to have fallen by $1,500, which in part helped GM achieve an overall average of $750 more per vehicle sold in the month.

GM Re-Aligned Production To Ongoing Demand At Its Michigan Facility By Building Only 2,305 In November

Before the Volt sell-a-thon began in August (that saw monthly sales returns between 2,831 and 2,961), Chevrolet had been averaging just a little over 1,500 Volts sold per month, making this month’s results actually very surprising…in a good way.

One would have expected at the end of such a program there would be a hangover of sorts, as Chevrolet waited for its customer base to catch it’s breath and replenish itself.

For the month General Motor’s Hamtramck facility produced 2,305 Volts as more emphasis went into running 2013 Malibus (2,718 build in November).

It Is Becoming Increasingly Clear That The Volt Is Only Saleable In Its Current Form In North America

If you want to find a “dark spot” for General Motors anywhere with the Volt, it comes in Europe, as both sales and the outlook for the Opel Ampera/Chevrolet Volt are dismal at best.

Earlier sales forecasts about Europe have long been ripped up, and only 4,300 had been sold prior to November for the 2012.   Stripping out EV-crazed Netherlands, GM has only managed to sell about 1,900 units.

In November, GM’s Hamtramck facility only produced 19 Amperas after putting out a lowly 2 in October.

Looking ahead to December results, restraint continues to be the watch word at General Motors; although some demand pressure will come from the expiration of the tax year, and with it the eligibility for receiving the $7,500 federal EV incentive credit on consumer’s 2012 tax return.  Look for a continued trend of more measured sales.

Also applying a lot of pressure on Volt sales is Ford’s C-Max Energi hybrid with 21 all-electric miles for $29,995 (after rebate).  November was the car’s first full month on the market and it sold a whopping 1,259 copies.  Some of those had to come at the expense of the electric Chevy.

(Image via freerepublic)

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11 responses to "Chevrolet Volt Sales Cut In Half For November As Heavy Incentive Programs End"

  1. Anton Wahlman says:

    The incentives ended on September 4. So if that was the explanation, at a minimum October sales would have collapsed, and despite 4 amazing early days in September, that whole month may have been impacted at least a little bit. So incentives are not the explanation. The answer is that the dealers in California had no inventories. They were down to 6 or 8 days’ worth, essentially zero. It was only in the last week of November as inventories started coming back. Volt sales were almost zero in California in early/mid November. You can’t sell cars that don’t exist in dealerships.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      You are right that the ‘up to’ $2,500 dealer credit program expired on September 4th, however it was replaced with new programs. In October, GM starting offering $2,000 off 2013s and $3,000 off 2012s as well as more attractive financing options on top than is in place today.

      Also agree that constrained supply did certainly restrict sales in certain situations, most notable in California…but it was only a part of the factor behind the drop, not fully responsible for them being halved. I don’t think anyone is suggesting Chevy will approach 3k for December even with the $7,500 credit deadline.

      …but we’ll know next month, (=

  2. Anthony says:

    Is 2,500 units/mo sound like a good idea for long-term production numbers? (at least until gen 2 shows up)

    30K units a year isn’t bad, its not the 45-60 they expected, but until 1) GM is making a reasonable amount of gross margin on each unit (more in line with other advanced technology cars) and 2) they can actually move that many from dealership lots – I don’t seem them scaling up production.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      For a car whose average retail price is north of $40,000, anything above 2,000 units would be ‘top 10′ in the industry. Only the Cadillac CTS sells more at GM at that pricepoint.

      I think the historical over-enthusiastic projections tends to make us think that anything that doesn’t equal 40K for the year is somehow a failure. Those lofty projections were first made when the car was going to be “comfortably” in the upper 20s.

      Honestly, where GM is most worried would be the Volt’s linemate, the Malibu. Only 10K this month and diving fast (200k for year). GM is barely going to gain over 2011 and the model update is less than 1.5 years old.

      The Malibu was pretty widely panned, as GM ‘decontented’ the model for sake of the new 2014 Impala, and the Fusion is putting it in the wood-chipper. They are going to try and ‘tweak’ it way ahead of schedule…but who knows, anything short of not cutting 3K of the MSRP isn’t going to cut it I don’t think. However, the Malibu production at Dham is bringing the plant productivity way up, as well as the overheads down on the Volt.

  3. vdiv says:

    EV-crazed Netherlands, here I come! Have you been there recently? The country is peppered with wind-generators, there are probably more of them now than tulips.

    Time to learn Dutch.

    1. robster says:

      In the Netherlands 286 Ampera’s were sold out of 30k cars in November. Meaning that 1% of all cars in November was an Ampera.

      And 13 Nissan Leaf..

  4. kdawg says:

    On the plug-in scorecard, there needs to be a column added for “Total”. It would be interesting to see how overall plug-sales changed from month to month.

    http://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I would love to do it…but I hate being inaccurate, so without Tesla, Fisker, Coda, the ‘little guys’, and the commercial guys reporting it would be a ‘best guess’ scenario.

      Same reason we don’t include those other players on the monthly list to start with.

      1. kdawg says:

        Maybe you could put a disclaimer * only cars that sold at least 100 vehicles (or whatever)

        1. Schmeltz says:

          Excellent idea KDawg!

  5. Koz says:

    Do demos count in Volt inventory totals? If so, how many non-demo units did that actual leave as regularly salable inventory, 500 for the country?