Chevrolet Volt Sales Carve Out Small Gain In September Against True Comps

NOV 1 2016 BY JAY COLE 38

The 2nd Generation Chevrolet Volt finds itself up against true year-over-year comps for the first time in October

The 2nd Generation Chevrolet Volt finds itself up against true year-over-year comps for the first time in October

During October, news of the Chevrolet Bolt EV heading into production late in the month, dealers taking orders on the pure EV, build volume estimates,  and just the general anticipation of the Bolt EV’s arrival in a little over 4 weeks time, has rendered its sibling – the Chevrolet Volt almost invisible.

David takes his Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 Rex to the strip for a long range PHEV showdown!

David takes his Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 Rex to the strip for a long range PHEV showdown!

Don’t believe us?  Just check out the recent news cycle from our “Chevrolet” sub-heading/mini blog here.

If it wasn’t for InsideEVs’ own David Murray taking a 2017 Volt to the track to race a BMW i3 (props to David btw), it would have practically been a clean sweep for the Bolt.

Yet there the Volt is, the all-time best selling plug-in vehicle in America, dutifully selling ~2,000 copies every month since the 2nd generation was introduced (outside of the sale purgatory for EVs that is January and February).

And October was no different, GM moved 2,191 copies of the Volt during the month, bringing the yearly total to 18,517 – an 64% improvement over the 11,299 sold at this point last year.

We do have to note however that October marks the crossing of a full year’s worth of the new Volt model, and as such the month-over-month comps just got a lot harder.  Against, the 2,035 Volts sold a year ago, this year’s result was a much narrower 7.7% gain.

Lots of 2017 model year Volts are now in stock nationwide (via Jeff K)

Lots of 2017 model year Volts are now in stock nationwide (via Jeff K)

What else can we tell you?

Well…thanks to a very rare, 2017 model year changeover that happened in February (instead of the normal Summer change-over), GM has build up a considerable amount of inventory since the automaker has not had to be cautious about over-stocking the Volt ahead of a new model year car arriving in the Fall and potentially wrecking havoc on the value of 2016 editions.

Honestly, we can’t remember the last time GM had more than 6,000 copies of the Volt available at dealers…if it did happen, it would have been back in the ‘heydays’ of the Chevy back in 2012/2013.

Volt and Bolt EV - complimentary products for Chevy? Or competitors? (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

Volt and Bolt EV – complimentary products for Chevy? Or competitors? (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)

And while we are in this ‘news vacuum’ for the Chevy Volt, we have often pondered a single question when it comes to the future sales outlook.

What happens to sales when an OEM has two similar priced, and popular plug-in passenger car offerings – relatively speaking?

Now to be fair, we do get that an all-electric 238 mile Bolt EV is not the same as a 53 mile extended range Volt, but it is still a question we really don’t have an answer to: how will they play together? …and only time will tell the answer.

Will the Volt/Bolt pairing sell more as a team, via bringing a higher profile, and more “butts in the seat” to Chevrolet showrooms around the country?  Or will one overshadow and damage the other’s potential sales base?

Other GM electrified sales of interest:

  • 260 Chevrolet Spark EVs were sold – basically the ‘last hurrah’ for the discontined/out of production EV as inventory has now dropped to about ~150 units by our count
  • with also now only a handul of Cadillac ELRs left, 3 were sold in October

Categories: Chevrolet, Sales

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38 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Carve Out Small Gain In September Against True Comps"

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Hey Jay… “we can’t remember the last time GM had more than 6,000 copies of the Volt available at dealers”

Does this imply that there is currently over 6,000 in dealer stock? I don’t see a number stated, and now you have me curious. 🙂

5568 Volts in North American inventory according to Cars dot com. That is very high. Generally it is between 2000 and 3000

Now if GM would unleash the CARB state incentives to the rest of the states, I think 3k a month would be perfectly doable!

With the Bolt just around the corner, GM likely won’t even need the Volt to meet ZEV mandates….the Bolt should cover them all.

Technically speaking, GM has already met all the ZEV mandates through 2020 with the Spark EV, as of well over a year ago.

It’s another point of fact that shows they’re selling the Volt and Bolt EV because they are serious about EVs, not because they need the credits.

Still, the reason they offer $2,250 extra in lease cash on Volts in CARB states is because of ZEV credits.

I rarely watch live TV, when I do it’s sports, saw several Chevy ads over the weekend, mostly Silverado’s and the new Cruze hatchback…Not one for Volt or Bolt EV…

Better than last year, but note the Oct 2016 sales numbers did not beat Oct 2014 sales numbers…

“By comparison, the average price of gas in October 2014 was $3.16 per gallon.”

PEV sales need to be seen in the context of the current environment. For now the Volt’s holding steady around 2,000. We’ll see again in 3 years time when there are no Federal tax credits and more fees for in lieu of fuel taxes.

Slow and steady….Volt sales are as predictable as Focus Electric sales….except Volts move in 20 times the numbers. :p

Interestingly, an office at Ford caught on fire (due to a fire sale?) and there will be a delay in Ford reporting sales…

Interestingly enough, I would not be interested in a Bolt EV. I’d rather have the Volt, but that is primarily due to the bodystyle. However, I recognize my tastes aren’t the same as most people, so the Bolt EV may very well sell better BECAUSE of its body style appealing to a larger market.

Some people will still choose the Volt for its more versatile drive train. Myself, I would give up the gas engine for 150 miles of EPA rated range. But I am continually amazed how much of my driving is EV. I have already been experiencing the “engine maintenance mode” due to lack of use.

One interesting note, I have yet to see a purely positive review for the Bolts EVs front seats…Most say at best they feel “different” since support is given by the springs vs foam and are narrow…Many who would otherwise love the Bolt EV might not find the seats comfortable or even some cases even fit…

I found the front seats comfortable however I did not sit in them for an extended period. It was a five minute test drive and I was more interested in the rear seats, since that is where the Volt is lacking.

Volt: Sexy Aerodynamic.
Bolt: Can carry 4 adults.

Really your statements favor the TM3 which is “sexy”, has a Cd of .21 and can fit five adults…

The Volt can carry 4 adults if the right size, rear legroom being the largest factor and in some scenarios could carry 5…The Bolt EV could also carry 5 but many are reporting it fairly narrow so again depends on specific size…

Very few would consider the Volt itself “sexy” let alone its CdA which has zero improvement as the Gen1 Volt…

Well, good for the Volt, seems that Bob did something right in his tenure:

"Salty" BOB

If the soon to be released Chevy Bolt EV has not already started cannibalizing Volt sales, then I don’t think it will anytime soon.

The Volt is different enough in form and capabilities for it to differentiate itself.

Especially since for the first few months, the Bolt will be hard to come by. So a smart salesperson with no Bolt EV stock can convert at least some potential customers into a Volt sale.

I read a story that GM would 259,000 cars in October

If GM could have a EV or Chevy Volt plug in sell 15,000 cars a month that would really not that many compared to the size of GM but it alone would double EV sales on this website’s charts.

I think that you have to remember the audience that Chevy dealers are talking to: in the know nerds, who like EV’s. For that reason, you will attract more nerds interested in the Bolt EV than the Volt(at least for now). The general public may have a different take on things once the Bolt EV is available and even more so when it is widely available. The Volt is a great car, Volt II is even better. But people have seen the Volt, some of the wow factor has worn off. Not so for the Bolt EV. I am curious how things go let’s say 18 months from now when both cars are on the same dealers’ lots. Places where the charging opportunities are most visible and available will, I believe, have strong interest in the Bolt EV.

Volt is too small.

I’ll wait and take a look at the Bolt and post pics of the sticker prices here at IEV.

If Chevy manages to sell 4,944 Volts in the next 2 months (2,400/month) they will set an new record for annual sales.

There’s a small chance of it happening if people try to get their orders in before the end of the tax year.

Chevy ought to pull out a few stops to make this happen. December is usually a pretty big month with people buying at the last minute to get the tax credit relatively quickly, so it is doable.
Being able to boast about record Volt sales while building up the fleet of Bolts would give GM the synergy to really boost their plug in sales figures.
I don’t think the Bolt and the Volt will interfere with each others sales, I think their buyers are sufficiently different so that promoting them both won’t be a zero sum game.

Ziv said:

“I don’t think the Bolt and the Volt will interfere with each others sales, I think their buyers are sufficiently different so that promoting them both won’t be a zero sum game.”

But I think GM, and other legacy auto makers, do see it as a zero sum game. Not zero sum with respect to each other, but rather zero sum with respect to the auto maker’s own more profitable gasmobiles.

And to be fair to GM, they did try to promote the Volt when it was new. Even two Superbowl ads, if I understand what Google is telling me. But the result of that high-visibility advertising was disappointing. So it’s expected (at least by me) that GM won’t spend much money advertising the Bolt… at least not until demand for the vehicle is proven in the marketplace.

I can see a 20% BF sale but it’ll probably be Chevy wide and/or GM wide…

Gas prices are creeping up, though…

I am waiting to see if Volt prices drop to be more competitive with the introduction of the Prius Prime. Battery costs don’t justify the price premium for the Volt and Toyota will probably always have a better reputation than GM amongst small car buyers.

$3000 more for double the EV range, better performance, much better looks, ~3 seats in the back..

Well worth it to me. (heck, had me at the EV range. Operating on gas sux)

Hi Jay – Do you know if there are any plans for a Gen-III Volt? And if so, what is the timeline?

I’m very much interested in buying a Volt, but when I heard about the Bolts range, I can’t help but wonder if the combo of the the Bolts range and the Volts styling is in the works in the next couple years. Anybody know?

Certainly not coming from GM.

Note that according to Jay Cole, who generally seems to know what he’s talking about, it takes at least four years for an auto maker to develop a truly new model of car. So for something to come out in only a couple of years, it would have to have already been in development for at least two years, and more likely at least three.

I think it most likely that GM will wait to see how well the Bolt sells, before they make any decision to proceed with more models of PEVs with a range as good as the Volt 1.0, or better.

I think Bolt and Volt have overlapping markets, BUT both have a strong place in the overall EV market. A household with a Volt and a Bolt (dream!) then has two cars for local and commuter use for two adults, and one long-distance car for going anywhere in the country.

Gm makes a great product in the Volt and likely the Bolt is a great car. But Why oh WHY… can’t they think OUTside the BOX in designing the Bolt to NOT look like a BOX like the CMax and the Leaf??
How hard can it be to look like a Tesla or even a Malibu ??
It starts with CLAY and hopefully an imagination??
It’s an exciting concept and an exciting name… but NOT an exciting LOOK?!!
I’m disappointed and will keep the volt but will likely wait for a competitor to give it a look to go with it.

No the Bolt will not cannibalize Volt sales. It is great that GM is offering customers a choice, some want PHEV and some want pure BEV. The only thing that GM is doing wrong is to not bring those choices to larger cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks.

I bought a Gen 1 Volt used, and I love it. I followed the car for years before, liked the styling, performance, electric dominant design, etc … But GM had to deliver solid reliability for me to consider buying it.

At first I was fairly excited by the Gen 2, with some solid improvement in electric range, performance, efficiency, etc … But I was disappointed they didn’t redesign the battery pack to allow a full 5 seats. I liked the design okay at first, but now it already seems pretty generic looking to me. Worst of all the reliability took a nose-dive in Gen 2, so that takes away any interest in my owning one in the future until it is improved at least up to average.

Come on GM! Get cracking on that! Never going to achieve Prius like sales with a ‘Poor’ reliability rating from Consumer Reports.

Reliability took a nose dive? My gen2 has gone through the same number of issues as my gen1 did when it first came out. That is to say, there were updates and minor fixes.

There hasn’t been any recalls on the Gen2. No ignition switch fiasco and no airbag issue.

Other than that, there is no differences in reliability/issues than gen1.

I don’t know why you said that… do you own a Gen2?

If you want reliability, you should wait for the Model 3 /s

There has been zero effort by GM to sell the Volt here in my Coastal SC area. There are various other (Non Volt) types of electric cars all over my neighborhood, so this should be a prime market area for them. I have emailed several dealers to let me know when they have a Volt demo available to test drive. All I get in response are junk advs. for their gas cars.