Chevrolet Volt Sales Improve In October

4 years ago by Jay Cole 26

By The End Of October Chevrolet Volt's Around The World Had Logged More Than 300 Million "Electric" Miles

By The End Of October Chevrolet Volt’s Around The World Had Logged More Than 300 Million “Electric” Miles

The two months prior to October were two extreme ends of the sales spectrum for the Chevrolet Volt.

New Domestically Built Batteries From LG Chem's Facility In Holland, Michigan Ship To GM In November

New Domestically Built Batteries From LG Chem’s Facility In Holland, Michigan Ship To GM In November

August saw the extended range Chevy set an all-time monthly record for any plug-in vehicle…ever, at 3,351 sold.  That result was halved in September with only 1,766 Volts sold.

For October, GM split those goal posts and sold 2,022 Volts – the 2nd best result of any plug-in car for the month narrowly beating out the Nissan LEAF for 3rd by 20 units.

However GM was up against a very aggressive year-over-year comparison when 2,961 were sold in 2012 – meaning the model experienced a 31.7% decrease.

Overall, 2013 total sales stand at 18,782, as compared to 19,309 – down more than 500 units or 2.7%

Once again it appears that a good portion of the monthly sales have come from the 2013 model, with at least $6,000 being offered by GM off the ‘old’ MSRP (from $39,145), and another $1,000 being offered to basically anyone who was leasing any vehicle prior + a 0% financing offer for up to 72 month.

Conversely, 2014 production seems to be moving at a very slow pace out of GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan facility and it is showing in the lack of national incentives and promotion on the new model year of the car.  Why discount what you don’t have to sell?

2014 Model Year Chevrolet Volt Lease Offer

After being pounded with $199 deals on many all-electric cars, the $299, $2,499 deal on the 2014 Volt has not turned as many heads in GM’s direction as expected

Looking at national inventories, what is interesting is that GM had build up almost 10,000 units of the outgoing 2013 Volt ahead of the summer shutdown and new model year changeover going into July; but ever since re-starting they have failed to build at anywhere near that level, allowing inventory to drop to around 4,000 units (with about 40% of those remaining still of the 2013 variety).

Our guess is they may have been caught off guard by August’s very large result after building as many 2013s as they thought they needed knowing production would be muted in the second half of this year.

Based On The Chevrolet Volt, The Cadillac ELR (from $75,995) Has A LOT Of Profit Margin Build In For GM In Our Opinion

Based On The Chevrolet Volt, The Cadillac ELR (from $75,995) Has A LOT Of Profit Margin Build In For GM In Our Opinion

Further complicating the matter now is that the high price/high margin, limited run Cadillac ELR (starting from a premium $75,995) will now be monopolizing the Volt’s Michigan assembly line before the holiday shutdown (two weeks in December) and shortly thereafter in all likelihood.

This reality means GM probably can only build at best a further 5,000 odd Volt units before the end of January; potentially leading to a repeat of inventory issues GM experienced a year ago that had Cristi Landy, GM’s marketing director for small cars, admitting in January of 2013 (the month GM only could sell 1,140 Volts due to shortages) that:

“We had some on and off starts with the assembly plant. California, which is our strongest market, was selling great then they would have no products. They’ve run out of products probably three or four times in the last 12 months, it’s been very frustrating.”

We look for the rest of the year and into January to be a disappointment for those expecting a return to big August-like numbers for the Volt.  However, it appears to be a case of GM focusing on other, higher margin cars out of the Volt’s DHAM facility to the detriment of the Volt’s sales numbers to end out the year…and these results probably should not be taken as waning interest in the 38 mile extended range EV.

Looking ahead we see a return to both higher sales and deeper inventories early in 2014…along with a cost reduction in the lease offer to make those sales happen.  The current $20,000+ cost of the 36 month lease (including the $7,500 federal credit) is inexplicably high.

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26 responses to "Chevrolet Volt Sales Improve In October"

  1. Ziv says:

    I hadn’t realized the probable impact of the ELR on the Volt production rate. There are 1767 2014MY Volts in the US according to Cars dot com, and just 1661 2013’s. If GM/Chevy can’t build at least 3,000 Volts alongside the ELR this month, sales will disappoint most of us Volt owners that wish for our car to do well, sales-wise.
    It seems like GM’s management has mis-managed the Volt from day one. The engineers did a great job, the MBA’s, not so much. From the initial hype about under $30k MSRP/40 miles AER/50 mpg, to pricing, to inventory issues, to plant shutdowns, they have been remarkably inept.

    1. taser54 says:

      I see no real impact of the ELR (extremely limited production-less than 1000 for 2014) on the Volt.

      1. Ziv says:

        That was what I thought until I read this article, but Jay tends to be right more often than not when it comes to the automotive industry. I am hoping that GM builds at least 4,000 Volts this month, getting the inventory back up a bit and pushing the sales/leases back up to the 3,000 area. They have built more than 1100 a week for extended periods in the past so it is doable.
        The April tax credit is looming closer and that seemed to help sales this time of the year last year.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Indeed, Taser is right, it is not a big run – but according to Darin Geese (who is the ELR production manager), it appears that a big block of ELRs get made in December – perhaps even as a one and done for a bit on the ELR.

          Here is the quote specifically:

          “The ELR is scheduled for production at the end of 2013 calendar year and THOSE units will be on sale the beginning of 2014″

          Even if GM only loses 2-3 weeks worth of Volt production time to do the slowdown adjustments and sending ELRs down the line displacing Volts, they also have 2 weeks of holiday shutdown to deal with.

          So we are looking at 4-5 of the last 8 weeks worth of production unavailable for the Volt…and with only about 3 weeks inventory of 2014s on dealer lots atm I think there is a very high potential for inventory issues near term, especially considering how few 2014s GM has built so far since the summer. Relatively speaking, there already is an 2014 inventory problem (IMO)

          1. scottf200 says:

            I had a Cadillac owner pull me over (stoplight) this morning on the way to work to talk about the Volt. He has an ELR on order with a Jan (or Feb) delivery.

            1. KenZ says:

              I’m still befuddled as to why someone would buy an ELR instead of a Tesla. Did you have that discussion? I’m super curious to hear what people think in this regard.

              1. ClarksonCote says:

                Probably for the same reason many people buy a Toyota Prius Plug in over a Volt… Brand Loyalty.

                Among other things, Tesla remains a “start-up” company and for many that’s too risky to rely upon.

  2. Keith says:

    Let’s call a spade a spade- 2013 Volt sales suck on any metric. GM’s own forecast was 36k vehicles- and they are now down on the year-over-year comps. It appears people just want pure EVs or don’t care about this particular car.

    1. kdawg says:

      Or it has something to do with competition. While the Volt sales have matched last year’s, the year over year for all plug-ins is up over 100%.

    2. MTN Ranger says:

      For a car nobody likes, it is still the top selling plug-in.

      1. vdiv says:

        Hehe, weird, eh? We’ll see next year with the increased competition. Somewhat disappointed at Ford’s effort so far as it could have prompted GM to speed up Volt improvements.

    3. Kyle090 says:

      Yes, lets call a spade a spade.

      A 32% decline in sales is not a good thing.

      A 32% decline in sales after a $5K price reduction just plain sucks.

  3. Blind Guy says:

    I think the inventory level will be adequate and I’m not going to worry about it. With several factors in production: Holland battery plant start-up, higher margin profit cars needing to be built, ELR production and the Holidays, it’s all good. January and February are typically slower months from credit card hangover as well. I really don’t expect the Volt to be pushed until Gen. II anyway JMO.

  4. GeorgeS says:

    Good article Jay,
    Volt sales are definitely hit and miss while the Leaf shows a good trend. I think part of the difference is that Nissan is comitted to success with the Leaf and GM has a lackidazicle attitude about the Volt.

    1. Kyle090 says:

      It’s a battle of who wants to discount their EVs the most.

      The consumer has proven time and again they don’t want the Leaf or the Volt unless there are substantial price cuts and discounts to go with the massive taxpayer funded incentives.

      Even with the huge discounts and price cuts, Leaf and Volt sales barely register in comparison to similar sized vehicles.

      1. pjwood says:

        Those “massive taxpayer funded” incentives amount to maybe 1 billion across all PHEV batteries. How much of the >500 billion defense budget do you think funds the national security of oil? If 1 is massive, what’s a chunk of 500? Just because you see a big percentage discount from the government, doesn’t mean it is the “massive” place taxes go. Not by any means.

        As has been said, you can’t do much with “what you don’t have to sell”. GM’s commitment to battery electrics appears to be weakening. Hard to be positive about 2,022. Glad people still talk it up.

    2. Jason A Bass says:

      George,

      You are so right! I drive the Volt and LOVE this car. More than a year in and I truly enjoy driving it and passing gas stations. It is arguably THE BEST electric vehicle on the market that eliminates range anxiety with the extender and enough pure electric range to get you around town. And GM/Chevy does such a poor job marketing this vehicle. You have to give Nissan credit on that Leaf and their efforts and commitment to build EVs. Have you see Nissan’s concept EVs? And Infiniti’s EV concept? The market is about to get ultra competitive.

  5. EV says:

    Best plug in on the market, in every category

  6. Ocean Railroader says:

    I’m starting to think this car is tanking in that it should at least be doing 3000 to 4000 cars a month now with the price cuts. I really think it’s the complex tax rebate system vs going to the Prius dealership and saying here take my money I want a plug in Prius which is the same price as a regular Prius.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      But Volt is still cheaper than the Plugin Prius after all the incentives…

      People are “brainless” when it comes down to math…

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        But filling out all the paper work can be like having a second job in that any time I have apply for something from the government they make you jump though tons of flaming rings like some type of circus animal. And they always make it where they want to know this and that such as who your pet fish’s name is and how much did they lose in gambling loses or if your half nice is a Cookie Monster. It’s to the point that it’s out of control and in a lot of cases you don’t even get it. The Plug in Prius is wining based off of the ease of getting it. In that when you look at the sticker price of a EV and then have that tax discount on it adds more confusion for the consumer.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          People who buys Prius Plugins are filing the same paperwork that Volt owners are filing… The only difference is the number in the same colume and rows.

          I seriously doubt that any Prius Plugin owners would give up on that $2,500…

          I believe the extra $1000 cash and 0% 60month ads really helpped the sales… Dealers are also discounting them heavily as well.

          1. Nate says:

            While I disagree with Ocean RR that we should expect 3000-4000 cars sold each month right now, I wouldn’t diminish the difference in the rebate. There may be many people who know they qualify for a PIP $2500 credit, or a energi $3750 credit, while they man not be so sure about the substantially larger $7500 credit. If you aren’t 100% sure that you can take advantage for the full amount, it helps to compare a lease. You can still make a good deal on a 2013 lease, but local selection can be scarce on 2013’s, unless you are very flexible on colors/options. Meanwhile the lease deal on 2014’s are not all that great right now, compared to other points in the last couple years.

            At the same time that the lease #’s on newer Volt’s are not being any better with the price drop, you have deals from Nissan, Ford and Toyota are significantly better at the moment than they were a year ago. In some cases the models were not available one year ago, and in some cases they were but there have been significant price cuts since then. Without decent advertising (which I don’t see for the Volt) and great lease deals, the Volt is a tough sell if people are uncertain about if they can take advantage of the credit in the current year.

  7. SerfCityHereWeCome says:

    LOL, don’t count on the govt continuing to buy them up for artificial reefs to try to save face for much longer….

  8. Martin T says:

    500M miles – Go Volt you good thing!

  9. Charles Reiss says:

    I bought my Volt in April 2011. It was the 2,228th produced. It now has 31,000 miles. Although we live in a rural area and distances to places are large, the average MPG remains constant at 110.
    The Volt is the best car we have ever owned — bar none.
    The relatively low level of sales is distressing because it is the result of poor consumer information. GM continues to do a woeful job of marketing this car and explaining to the public how it works. I am constantly explaining it to interested people who I regard as “informed”. If GE could just get the message across people would understand fully the benefits of the car and its superiority over other EV, Extended EV’s and Hybrids.