Chevrolet Volt Sales Improve In April

MAY 1 2014 BY JAY COLE 60

We Were More Than Surprised To See The Chevrolet Volt Make An Appearance While We Were In Beijing For Auto China 2014

We Were More Than Surprised To See The Chevrolet Volt Make An Appearance This Month While We Were In Beijing For Auto China 2014

April was mostly good news all around for the Chevrolet Volt.

GM Decided In April That Now Was The Time To Churn Out Some 2014 Chevrolet Volt Inventory

GM Decided In April That Now Was The Time To Churn Out Some 2014 Chevrolet Volt Inventory

Sales were up.  National inventories ballooned.  And GM re-confirmed its commitment to the platform into a 2nd generation.

As for sales, 1,548 cars were sold, which bested April of 2013 by 18.5% when just 1,306 Volts were sold and last month’s 1,478 units.

For the year, Chevrolet has now sold 5,154 Volts, which is still down 7.1% from 2013 when 5,550 were moved.

On the second generation of the Chevrolet Volt front, GM made a fairly high profile announcement of a new $449 million dollar investment into the product in Michigan this month.  As part of this new funding, two future (and still undisclosed) Volt-based vehicles will also be made.

The next Chevrolet Volt will be a 2016 model and go on sale in the 2nd half of 2015.

Thankfully, the production focus has shifted away from the Cadillac ELR, as Volt inventories finally rose up to a more reasonable level in April (north of 6,000 units) with the Volt’s Hamtramck assembly line bumping out cars much faster than they could be sold for a change.

Going forward, we expect a lot more Volts to also be made in May as well; but it should be noted that GM made a similar decision in 2013 to over-build the car.  More than 10,000 cars were available heading into the summer months ahead of the 2 week shutdown last year … just before Chevy slashed dealer pricing on the extended range plug-in.

The End Of The "Green" HOV Sticker Program May Have Some Affect On Volt Sales Going Forward

The End Of The “Green” HOV Sticker Program May Have Some Effect On Volt Sales Going Forward

Looking at future sales, GM now faces a couple hefty problems heading into May and June (when the company sold 1,607 and 2,698 units in 2013 respectively).

  • 2nd Gen Volt Announcement – whenever you announce that a new model is coming, especially one that the company has promised to be both cheaper and have a longer all-electric range, that has to weigh on the minds of consumers ‘in the know’ when thinking about buying the current Chevy plug-in offering; perhaps deferring that purchase until next year
  • End of  California’s “Green” HOV stickers – in a note obtained by CARB, the agency said that all of the 40,000 “green” stickers had been spoken for, and while that had hopes for future legislation to expand the program, a recent prop to do so in the assembly just failed.  Given that the bulk of Chevy Volt sales happen in California, this may have some impact on future sales.

Separately, the plug-in extended range Cadillac ELR sold 61 units in April.

Editor’s Note: There was 26 selling days for the April period this year vs 25 for 2013

Categories: Chevrolet, Sales

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60 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Improve In April"

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1,548 sales is better than last month.. but still nothing great. This car should be selling 3x more per month than they are currently. I blame several problems:
1) GM’s lack of desire to sell more than that. (for whatever reason, perhaps due to them being unprofitable)
2) Dealerships being ignorant of the car, how to sell it, how the incentives work, etc.
3) The general population’s lack of understanding of the car.

At one point I would have blamed fox news. And while I’m sure the false “fire” stories might have had an effect, I think that is mostly in the past now.

I hope the green-sticker issue doesn’t put the sales in the crapper even more. It makes no difference to people in the rest of the country, but I guess a lot of Volts are sold in California.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

1) GM’s lack of desire to sell more than that. (for whatever reason, perhaps due to them being unprofitable)

AFAIK the marginal cost to manufacture each Volt is in the mid-to-upper-$20k range, the “unprofitability” is due to amortizing its research expense across a small # of vehicles. The more they sell, the less unprofitable they are.

2) Dealerships being ignorant of the car, how to sell it, how the incentives work, etc.

I think dealerships are pretty aware of how little billable service the Volt actually needs. The more Volts they sell, the less service profit they make per-vehicle. This goes to Elon Musk’s factory-selling strategy, and why GM and other legacy automakers are constrained in their offerings.

3) The general population’s lack of understanding of the car.

I think this will lessen as people, over time, know more and more people with Volts and other EVs, extended-range or otherwise.

I think you are right about people STILL not understanding how the Volt works. I had lunch with a friend of mine today and she had no idea that the Volt has a genset. She thought that if I ran out of juice the car would die on the side of the road. And she is pretty sharp…

“Drive 40 miles using All-American Electricity for around 2 cents a mile, and then the gas genset kicks in so you can drive all day at 40 miles per gallon!” would be a great way to promote the new 2016MY Volt, if it gets those new numbers, which I think is quite likely.

I lean #3 becuase, if the EPA sticker doesn’t confuse ‘um the charger install sure will.

David, I agree on #3, most anyone I’ve talked to about my 2013 Volt that aren’t plug-in enthusiasts really don’t know how the Volt works. Granted it’s long talking point to explain how the car works, but GM should be able to market the Volt’s efficiency and flexibility better. On #2, I also agree on the point made by Dr. Kenneth Noisewater that dealers aren’t as motivated to sell the Volt because it is not as serviceable as regular cars for them to make a profit. At over 15,000 miles on the odometer, I’ve only needed to rotate the tires twice, that’s it. The dealership keeps sending me coupons for oil changes and the like though. 🙂 On #1, I partially agree. What also comes into play is that I also think GM has intentionally kept the Volt as “niche” by keeping production low. You can’t sell 3x more cars without supply (and more marketing). Part of this too is they are bringing out Gen 2 and while they are trying to lower cost and make more profit, they are also keeping an eye on what’s left of the 200,000 (per automaker) quota for the full Federal EV rebate. The… Read more »

I recently considered Volt, but bought Spark EV. I didn’t like its 4 seats, and the styling.
Volt should be made to look more like a regular car, like Honda accord plug-in hybrid. That would attract more people. many people don’t like the hatchback styling and prefer sedans. You can tell that by just looking at the cars on road.

Disagree on the design. The hatchback Prius sells just fine. Nobody ever noticed or complimented the looks of the Vibe or other “regular” looking cars I owned but the Volt gets compliments all of the time, many coming from people that have no idea it is an EREV.

Wait, you think people don’t like hatchbacks vs. sedans, you don’t like the styling and only having only 4 seats, posted with a (broken) website link for the Nissan Leaf, but got yourself a Spark EV? Right…

I personally think that the Volt is the best car in the EV category. the real long term EV play is not the elimination of gasoline; for long distance travel, gasoline is, and will remain, the best power source; but the intelligent use of electric propulsion to replace gasoline in daily driving while still providing the freedom to go where you want, when you want. I think that was the design intention of the Chevrolet Volt; to be a car that would allow you to use electric propulsion while being your only car. part of the problem with the Chevrolet Volt is that while it is the best designed car for general market adaptation; the EV market at present is still a niche/early adopter market. many of the people in the current EV segment are EV enthusiasts who are going to be attracted to the idea of not having a gasoline engine at all. in other words, they like the idea of owning a BEV. I suspect that you are also right about the sales channel being a challenge to wider acceptance of the Volt. as a general rule, salespersons like selling what is familiar to them, and EVs are… Read more »

Take the VAT tax off the Volt in the EC and the other major markets like Japan and that will be the true amount of the demand.. right now the Volt is taxed out of all but he US market.

Yup, when I went to look at the Volt all the dealers would tell me to look at a Cruze instead because they are cheaper and get good mileage. I practically had to beg to buy my Volt. Have gone 21,000 miles and used only 20 gallons of gas. Don’t notice a difference in my electric bill! It’s a great car. However, I do think it looks too much like a Cruze, and an uglier version at that, and wish it were a hatchback like my previous Prius had. Who wants a sedan with a window in the trunk?

Pretty bad number. LEAF will swamp that.

Uuuu. ELR sold 61 with inventory around 1500. When can we call the ELR a complete disaster?

The in-fighting between EV proponents is always amusing to me.

Seems like at this point there’s plenty of room for everyone’s favorite EV/EREV/PHEV to succeed.

LOL @ David, “Sis boom bah” .

and then… slow clap.

The Leaf can point to rapid CHAdeMo growth. The Volt lost its sticker. Not sure lots more L3 showing up on Plugshare.com is making a difference, for Nissan, but I’ll stand by the Volt and give these BEV people a golf clap.

If anything, it seems all the first generation EVs (2010-2012) models are plateauing in their sales levels.

The reason the EV/PHEV market is growing is because more models are being made. Consumers have more choices. Not everyone wants to buy a Leaf or Volt. Buying a car is a very personal decision. People identify with all sorts of different aspects of the car, and they want to buy one that fits them.

The more EV/PHEV models people have to choose from the better.

Lower the price of the ELR to something reasonable (say a $15k premium over the Volt) and they will sell. Even so, coupes are no longer really mainstream like they were in the 1970’s.

“The next Chevrolet Volt will be a 2016 model and go on sale in the 2nd half of 2015.”

Already in 2015 ? Last week a salesperson at a chevy dealership told me august 2016 for the 2nd gen.

Sales person was wrong…late July or August 2015.

Thanks.
It puts their justification for a 3 year lease into another perspective.

Time for some honesty. Chevy Volt sales have been & continue to be disappointing. US sales peaked in 2012 and continue to decline & under perform. It is the worst selling major model in the Chevy line because the consumer is not buying them. 1548 sold last month? A total of less that 55,000 in 3 1/2 years. Ford sold over 1 million Mustangs in 18 months when it was released in the mid-60s.

There still may be a future for EVs, but it isn’t what we have in production no matter how many subsidies we give them.

Keep in mind more players are added to the field each year, so you need to look at sum of the sales, not one individual model, to grasp the health/future of EVs. This total # of sales keeps increasing at a large rate year over year.

Also, just a nit-pick, but the Volt is at 59,706 for US sales. Worldwide sales are closer to 70K.

Second gen Volt should sell better, if they can add the 5th seat and make it look more like a traditional car. It’s price is competitive. Main deterrent is its looks.

Totally agree on the looks thing. Ugly! And it is basically a sedan with a see through trunk. Stupid! I loved my Prius because it was cute and practical and I could stow alot in the back. The Volt storage was obviously thought through by an office manager who is either single has a wife who does all the shopping and kid hauling in a real car.

GM does not consider the Volt a “major mode” they consider it as a niche “halo model” akin to the Corvette. As such the Volt is not doing that bad, they could have easily sold half as many (i.e. look at the Fusion Energi numbers).

I agree the sales numbers are low – But not because consumers don’t like the car. Everyone I have shown my Volt to has loved it and said they wanted one. Most people didn’t fully understand the car until it was explained to them. This seems to be a consistent tale among Volt owners. It seems most sales from people who know somebody else who owns a Volt. Consumer reports also show that people who buy the car are very happy with it.

So the problem is NOT the car. There are many problems preventing more sales of this car, however, which have been debated for quite some time on this site and others.

Yup. One of the 1548 was sold to a young college-grad in IL based on my recommendation. The Volt was not on his radar prior, so I’m sure he would have gotten a Civic, Corolla, etc.

Well, Wags, Not to be impolite, but ya sound like an #antiEVZombie to me.

With thousands of automotive rating sites online and millions of you and me in CyberSpace sporting varying degrees of informed opinion I have fun with the likes of you.

1) The fact of the marketing matter is that the Amazing Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle has routinely outsold one half of ALL NEW Cars available on the market today and has since Volt EREV came off limited beta sales, November 2011.

Source- CSM

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/In-Gear/2012/0922/Failure-Hardly.-Chevy-Volt-outsells-half-of-all-US-cars

Dat Ain’t No Niche Car To Me!

2) Thousands of car rating sites online but only one US News and World Reports.

2014MY Chevy Volt EREV Equals The 2014MY Mercedes Benz C-Class in overall ratiing.
A US News- Best Cars- Best Car For The Money!

Source- US News

http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/Upscale-Midsize-Cars/

Dats impressive!

3) Over 28,000 on my Chevy Volt EREV and I save $200 a month not buying gas after my buck a day Electric Fuel Costs!

That is a $5,000 savings in fuel, with robust and ctoss state driving in the mix!

Source- My Volt Stats Page-

http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1068

I went my first 10,000 miles on my first tank of gas from my dealer!

“Take your gas and shove it, ain’t buying much no more~”

Best-

Thomas J. Thias

517-749-0532

Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

Pfft. Is the Corvette a failure? They sell nearly twice as many Volts as they do Corvettes.

Some people just had overoptimistic views on how fast things could change. People don’t change buying habits, especially on big ticket things like cars, quickly. The Volt was a completely new technology and it started out very expensive. And meanwhile, gas prices have stagnated thus reducing the pressure to improve fuel economy.

The Volt is doing fine. And I expect it to do better as they announce new models, reduce costs, and gas prices inevitably rise.

Comparing the Volt to the Mustang’s volume, in the 60’s. Nice. Were you the original owner?

Interesting that the Volt in China is either a 2011, or 2012 model.

I think it’s car dealerships and GM’s squirrely behavior about the car in that they keep sending mixed messages to people about it. They also are really suirrely with the Chevy Spark and they are still dealing with the death of the EV1.

The thing that surprises me is that I always thought that the Volt would do better sales wise compared to the leaf in that it could go into more rural areas. In that I have several places in my area that would be prefect for the volt. But I guess the leaf has better marketing and other things going for it.

Technically the Volt has sold 23% more cars in the US than the Leaf. The Leaf is gaining, but like has said many times before, we are still in the infant-stage of the plug-in market, and comparisons between brands is almost pointless. We need sales of the entire plug-in market to continue to increase until we ‘jump the chasm’ of this technology.

Infant stage indeed. People need to realize that revolutions rarely ever happen . . . things change by evolution. I owned a personal computer in late 1970s and was viewed as a complete geek. Today, if you don’t have a computer of some sort (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.), you are viewed as a complete freak. But that took decades.

Nice graph, summarizes the present situation well.

Serious question: how many Priuses this Toyota sell in it’s first year, 2 years, 3 years?

The Volt is radically different than any other car. Even more different than the Prius was from a traditional ICE.

We’ll know if the Volt and the Voltec drive system was a success several years from now.

I think this is what you are looking for.
(from the DOE)

Interesting graph!

Since the Volt is both an EV and hybrid, I wonder how they counted it.

It’s plug-ins vs. Non-plug-ins.

Strange names on two curves but with your clarification it becomes an interesting graph.

Those plots show total sales in USD, not number of cars. I think Tesla model S pulls up the numbers for EVs. Actual number of cars sold are probably the same plot as hybrids.
But still a good start.

realdb2

The Amazing Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle IS a success!

Just take a look at the Upscale Midsized Cars Leader Board over at the Old Guard Us News and World Report-

Chevy Volt EREV is tied Overall With the Mercedes Benz C-Class!

Source – Us News
http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/Upscale-Midsize-Cars/

Best-

Thomas J. Thias

517-749-0532

Twitter.com/AmazingChevVolt

I love my Volt. The dealers tried to steer me out of it to a Cruze. I’ve gone 21,000 miles on 40 galls of gas, and notice little difference in my electric bill. I think the design is a big turn off to lots of people. My beloved Prius was a practical hatchback, and the Volt is a sedan with a see through trunk.

Indeed. I think people that are into EVs fail to realize how little the general public knows about the economics of EVs, how the work, or if they’ve even ever heard of them. And yes, a hybrid is not much of a change from a regular gas car . . . the driver’s behavior does not change at all. EVs and PHEVs involve plugging the car in. And even something that simple invokes fear and skepticism.

“Also of interest: Cadillac has also made available a premium charging station for the ELR. And for the first 1,000 customers – it’s free!*”
—————

Do you get the home charger if you lease?

Yes, indeed you do!

And do you get to keep the home charger if you don’t like and return the ELR, money back guaranteed, just add S&H, not applicable with any other offers, some exceptions apply, see offer for details? 😉

It only has place for two in back, which is a major showstopper for many people. Of course this may not be as important in China as in Europe. In Belgium in particular a car really has to have 3 places in the back to be considered by most people. It is as much cultural as need based; no one buys 2 backseat cars. That is also a burden for the BMW i3 by the way. Not so for the Model S that at contrary even provides 3 wide places in the back.

I like to think of mine as a 4-door coupe

Agree. The 2+2 arrangement in the Volt makes it special and gives the rear occupants better bucket seats, their own space, and a sense of dignity. Noone wants to ride in the middle seat, especially in a compact car. It is a much better tradeoff than that in the C-Max and Fusion Energi where you get that center seat, but you lose the trunk.

I agree. Although ironically the CMax Energi has a larger trunk than the Volt (not so with the Fusion).

Based on the numbers the Energi has a bigger trunk than the Volt but when I did my suitcase test I could easily fit it in the Volt but in the ford I could no longer close the cover. A guitarcase fits level in the Volt but not in the Energi. Volt with seats down offers a relatively level floor area, not so with Energi. The car looks very nice on the inside and has more gimmicks than the Volt. The guy in the dealership said it was perfect to drive to the office. I can’t justify a 37k msrp car just to drive to the office every day. At that point I can just as well buy a 18k Chevy Sonic and be able to fit a suitcase, guitar and laptop at the same time

Don’t get Brian started. He insists the numbers prove out true. I am skeptical after seeing the back of a C-Max energi.

To resolve this, Brian and I have a side bet going involving how much luggage he can fit in a C-Max Energi when one is available to try. Easy money, if you ask me! 😉

Volt is doing well for what it is AND how much people has been hating it.

NO other cars in the history have received so much hate from both the LEFT and the RIGHT.

We have GM hater, Fox News watcher, Liberal EV1 lover, BEV purist and gas guzzler high performance car lover all hating the car.

Even the some of the hardcore Prius owners hate it.

So, considering all that hate, Volt is actually holding up fairly well in my opinion.

It is the MOST MISUNDERSTOOD car in the recent history.

Yep, everyone hates the Volt … well, except those who actually understand and own a Volt. Those people overwhelmingly love it!

FUD may not be rational, but it is very powerful … at least in the short term, until the facts become undeniable.

It is not hate but just pragmatic lack of ability to fit in a family with 3 children. Otherwise, at contrary I like it more than the now obsolete Prius.

Not everyone has exactly 3 children that fit nicely ride 3 across in a row. I have no doubt the hate and FUD did not affect you, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect many others.

Funny how GM gets so much hate for not continuing the EV-1, which only had 2 seats. Memories fade and it is now considered the perfect car. Meanwhile they get hate for the Volt having only 4 seats.