Chevrolet Volt Sales Stay Low In December As GM Looks Ahead To Next Gen

JAN 5 2015 BY JAY COLE 58

2016 Chevrolet Volt's Exterior Was Revealed Sunday Night At CES (more pics here)

2016 Chevrolet Volt’s Exterior Was Revealed Sunday Night At CES (more pics here)

If there was ever a month where the attention was on the Chevrolet Volt, it is right now.

Current Volt Inventory Seems To Be Moved Via Big Incentives (via Rydell Chevrolet)

Current Volt Inventory Seems To Be Moved Via Big Incentives (via Rydell Chevrolet)

Unfortunately, all that attention surrounds the next generation 2016 Volt that officially debuts on January 12th in Detroit (and last night at CES in Las Vegas), and not on the existing car (which turned 4 in December) currently on dealer lots.

For the last month of the year 1,490 Volts were sold, extending a now 4 month slump in sales of the extended range EV.

Compared to December 2013 when 2,391 were sold, sales were off 38%.  This also brings the total volume moved in 2014 to 18,805, which is off by 18.6% against the 23,094 sold in 2013.  Closing out the 2nd consecutive year, Volt sales have fallen.

Given that GM themselves have produced very little 2015 model year Volts since production got underway in early summer – including taking off September, October and most of November off for retooling, the sales wound has been mostly self-inflicted.   It would seem that GM has decided to neither promote or produce the existing plug-in Chevy until the next gen model launches later this year.

Instead sales momemtum is being sustained by some big discounts at the dealer level – up to $6,000 off and $149 lease deals were being reported in December.  Currently, about 2,000 units of the 2015 MY Volt are available nationwide in the US.

Next Generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt Debuts Monday, January 12th!

Next Generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt Debuts Monday, January 12th!

And while no one has wanted to see the Volt’s sales stagnate they way they have, it is probably in GM’s best interest to just pass the time until the 2016 launch in the 2nd half of the year as the company has long promised that the car will be improved in practically all key areas – efficiency, range and probably most importantly – price.

We look for the 2016 Chevrolet Volt to compete for the plug-in sales title in 2015, but to dominate the scene in 2016 (such as it did in 2012) ahead of the much anticipated launch of the 2017 Tesla Model 3 and second gen 2017 Nissan LEAF.

So what about that 2016 Volt?  Here is a recap of what we learned in December:

Separately, the Cadillac ELR sold 118 copies in December – about inline with the year average.  For the year, 1,310 ELRs were moved.

Categories: Chevrolet


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58 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Stay Low In December As GM Looks Ahead To Next Gen"

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And this is why Tesla doesn’t have model years.

They haven’t been around long enough. Eventually the Model S will need a refresh.

Model “D” was the half cycle refresh…

Doesn’t matter if it is a model year or not. Eventually they’ll have a second generation for the Model-S and the same issues will apply.

Do we know when Hamtramck will be re-tooled?

I thought the retool was already complete. basically, just flip a switch and move on? I know its not exactly that easy… wishful thinking

kdawg, they have only built around 100 2015MY Volts since they closed the line in August, so I am not sure that it would have been much of an inconvenience to re-tool in 2014. LOL!

Will we have to go through all these big titles with this lame pretext not to sell more Volts for the upcoming 8 months!?!

I, personally, find the old Volt to be much nicer than the new volt. The old Volt design as more personnality, the new Volt seems to be too generic, looks to much like all others cars GM makes.

I also don’t understand GM’s choice to add more range instead of making the car cheaper and lighter (which would make sense for a car that can rely on an ICE anyway).

Maybe I should look for the deals on the old Volts!

How do you know what the price and weight of the next gen Volt will be? It could be cheaper and lighter and have more EV range.

GM already stated that with battery advance, they would put more kWh in the same space than before, inscreasing the range. Of course, they can still cut on the price, but they could cut more if the battery was downsized (keeping the same number of kWh).

Francis, I hear what you are saying on price. But more AER is a huge advantage, even with EREV’s. There does come a point where an EREV really doesn’t need more AER, and I would guess that if you are trying to appeal to the 80% in the middle, that point would be around 50 miles of AER. Especially when your AER gets reduced by 30% on cold days.
I am hoping for a bit more AER AND a lower MSRP. I kind of like the “have my cake and eat it, too” outlook…
But you raise a good point. I think there will be a huge market for Gen I Volts due to some people wanting a compact with a slightly more sporty look rather than a mid-size with a more mainstream look.

Yes, after discussing the issue with another blogger, I’ve reached the conclusion that the Volt has NO competition at ANY price.

Increasing the totally electric range of the vehicle in my humble opinion is much more important than cheapening the vehicle.

The Volt has the unique advantage of being its own “class”.

Extending its alredy huge range would further showcase its uniqueness, and personally, its THE main improvement I would want in a future car.

I’d call the i3 REx Volt competition. And, yes, I know that takes a good $10k for granted, on the price difference.

…small add, that when the i3 REx becomes a 45 mile EREV, in winter, it goes into the Volt’s cross-hairs.

Yeah, If you recall I listed the I3 as a ‘Theoretical Competitor’, but I thought it was you who talked me out of it.

Strictly speaking, as of right now, there is no competition to either the new or old Volt at any price, even after all this time.

It was Spider-Dan

I just feel like no matter what the AER is, there will always be someone clamoring for Just Ten More Miles. At 80% EV commute miles, it’s doing what it’s supposed to.

Another commenter mentioned something that frankly blew my mind: if GM could somehow, someway get the base price of Volt 2.0 to 27,499, after federal rebate we are talking about a car with a price starting with a 1. That is a total game-changer.

to most people, to make a plug-in more mainstream, it needs to look like all of the other cars. I know several people that did not want one just because they were too distinctive and did not want the unwelcome attention it would bring.

I hear this a lot. And yet when you look at the best selling hybrids and electrics they are all the ones that look unique.

The Model S looks almost exactly like a Jaguar.

I saw an interesting article that explains why the Prius has maintained its ugliness for so long. Apparently, of the top 10 richest zip codes in the US, 3 are in CA. And in those three zipcodes, the Prius is the #1, #1, and #2 selling model. (The other cars on these lists carry MSRPs more than double that of the Prius.)

Now, why would the some richest people in the nation be buying $25k cars? Answer: green cred. But if you buy a Camry Hybrid or an Accord Hybrid then you’re just another schmuck in a Camry or Accord. So the Prius *has* to look unique to maintain value in those market segments.

However, as you may be aware, the #1 conquest car for the Model S is the Prius. So the era of the ugly car may be coming to a close.

1. LA freeway traffic is very crowded.

2. Right now you can get a sticker for your electric car that lets you use the HOV lanes, even if it is just YOU in the car.

3. Getting to use the HOV lane & saving time would make a Nash Rambler be an attractive car.

Francis, don’t take your eye off the ball. The point ( goal) of the Chevy Volt is to drive all electric. The internal combustion engine is a backup for those rare occasions where you may need to extend your range. Extending the all electric range of the Volt should continue until we get to the point where we don’t need the internal combustion engine. I praise GM for extending the range and I encourage them to continue to do so, because that is the goal. Everything else is just dressing on the cake.

Noble goal indeed, but probably not GM’s. If it were, we would have 200 miles all electric sedan massively produced at a good price.

Hybrids are a way to delay pure electrics. GM and Toyota have enlarged the ICE lately, not the other way around.

..another comment about the .1 liter. Just slightly out of proportion with the electric range gain, of this wonderful EV.

I did a little excel graph this afternoon with the numbers of monthly sales of all EVs with significant sales, including this wonderful hybrid of yours, and if we take the 2013-2014 period, the tendency line for these two years for the Volt… goes down… IT IS THE ONLY ONE.
Even the Plug-in Prius goes slightly up.
Tesla is steady and modestly on the north direction. The Leaf has the steeper line, the winner, and also the Fusion and C-Max but with less sales.

For me it means that the “success” of the Volt is quite an overstatement from a P.R. stunts mediatic scenarios to always talk alittle more of this car that we will not be able to try before Q3, as the Model X, with the big difference that Musk always deliver what he promised ( and more) and GM… on the contrary makes false promises over false promises. Like announcing before 2009 a new electric car, then, in 2009 it became a series-hybrid with 230 MPG… and finally delivered a parallel hybrid with computer driven serial and electric possibilities.
Also like this promise from GM to build 14 electrics and hybrid models by 2012… It was in 2009…remember?

GM has only been dropping in sales because they had the most sales in the first place to lose. You seem to be glossing over the fact that Volt sales beat all other plug-in vehicles for a long time. The Volt beat a whole lot of those other cars on that graph to market by at least a year, most by 2+ years. Sales are in part going down because they got so high when the other car makers were barely dipping their toes in the market, afraid to jump in the way GM did. They beat most plug-ins to the market, and were rewarded with larger sales than most of those other cars. Now there is more competition, and they are months away from being the first plug-in vehicle company to do a complete refresh of their plug-in, starting with a clean sheet of paper. Let’s see what happens to other plug-in sales when they start announcing their second generation version is impending release. They will probably see similar temporary sales dips. Yes, GM did promise lots of hybrids that never happened. But a deep global recession that lasted longer than expected, and being forced to shutdown/sell-off entire brands… Read more »

“Sales are in part going down because they got so high”

Didn’t american people give GM billions with In return the green turn promise Gm made to Obama? The recession was not that long and GM had plenty of time and money to do 10 times better than this.

Once again: the Volt is the best selling EV in American history, at its release it was the most awarded American car ever, it has the highest owner satisfaction of any car GM has ever made… and you’re complaining that GM didn’t do enough.

Sorry, it is a hybrid.
The Leaf is the best selling EV. It will surpass the Volt soon, as Tesla will.

Lu, the Leaf is a BEV and the Volt is an EREV. Guess which one has more electric miles? 🙂
The Volt by a good bit.

I think you’ll find that most of the Gen 2 range increase comes from drivetrain efficiency, weight reduction and improved battery technology rather than any specific decision to dramatically increase range.

The general consensus is combined this will bring the AER to at least 50 miles. While that is significant (about 25%) it would not have made sense to put smaller battery cells in the same physical space just to keep range under 40 miles. Note the number of cells stays the same since the system voltage was fixed much earlier in the design.

To put your mind at rest, Francis, the basic Volt EREV mission remains the same, but the improvements are significant and worth considering. Regardless, if you like the old styling and performance numbers, that’s OK too.

To me, the more electric range you have, the less useful the ICE is. If you want to have a car with a lot of electric range, you want a Leaf.

I would rather see 2 versions of the Volt, one with the same range as gen 1, but cheaper and another with a huge battery, no ICE.

But it is just a question of priority. To me, I fell that the biggest problem of today Volt is the price, not the electric range.

I do agree with your point about the high Volt price. I guess we will see if GM has addressed that over the next few weeks. Certainly the Volt 2 cost reduction should give them some latitude to do that.

However, I do believe that in the grand tradition of GM mainstream car marketing any price differences within the Volt product line will be based on options and trim levels rather than basic range and drivetrain.

You see we all keep the eyes on the ball, our only Earth, and the fundamental goal is to keep it clean and cool.
It is urgent and there is no way hybrids with a mere 5% more range will help.
Kill the ICE!

They also have the opportunity to use a greater depth of discharge (DOD). It was a very conservative 65% in Gen I. With 4 years of real world data, I hope they bump this up to 75% – 80%.

Volt isn’t selling because it’s not the car people want. Too much compromise. GM has been smart not to produce too many 2015s. That’s not a self inflicted wound.

Volt doesn’t have the best AER, not the best gas mileage, and the interior gives up too much space to batteries in the cabin that was too small to start with.

GM needs to make a CUV PHEV like the Mitsubishi outlander or make a BEV sold nationwide.

Actually I think GM cooked up just the right balance of gas and electric for North American driving tastes. The electric mode covers near 90% of daily driving needs with low cost overnight charging at home, plus no range anxiety gas operation for the remaining 10% and corner cases.

That’s much more useful than 10-20 mile plug in assisted hybrids and no BEV range anxiety cloud hanging over you.

The only real problem with the Volt was the high price for average buyers. We’ll see if GM has fixed that after the announcements.

GM dropped the price before and it didn’t help.

I think you are miss-placing some of the blame dealers, GM and I’d go as far as to say the average Chevy buyer wears. So many Volt owners crossing over from other brands says as much that is good, as it leaves an open question whether there is any substantial Chevy market, among Chevy customers, for non-trucks over $30k?

You knock the Volt for not having enough AER or not good enough MPG, but then give your solution of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV which has worse #’s than the Volt in both those categories???

Outlander at least has more room and is in the very popular CUV/SUV segment.

Then you need to clarify your metrics. Something can’t be the best in everything. GM used the 80/20 approach. They produce a vehicle that targets to satisfy 80% of the purchasers. I don’t know of another plug-in out there that comes even close to hitting as many targets where they need to be as the Volt does.

By definition – PHEV is a compromise w.r.t. fossil fuel use(since it is not a pure BEV). So atleast it should be utilitarian. This is where Volt suffers compared to Outlander. If Pitsu get their act together and sell the outlander PHEV in US, it will be the best selling plugin.

Model S satisfies the needs of 80+% of its customers. It is in a different price range having customers with different values.

Another reason the Volt isn’t selling is cheap gas. All hybrids are down.

But pure EVs like the Leaf and Model S seem to be selling well, still.

Actually, there is no correlation whatsoever between plug-in sales and gas price.

What? No liquidation sale? No big rebate on 2014 Volts?!? That is because they never build enough on purpose and close their only plant from time to time.
And sales numbers sucks.

GM’s added incentive for buying a 2014 Volt vs. a 2015 is 0% financing vs. 2.9%. Otherwise both have $1,000 dollar cash incentives.

It seems like they are pricing them as if both the 2014 and 2015 will depreciate the same once the 2016 Volt goes on sale. Which is probably true. 2014/15’s will take the biggest depreciation hit when the new model comes out. Most new car buyers are smart enough to figure this out, which is why Volt sales have been down ever since GM started talking up the GEN II Volt. GM is smart enough know that buyers know this, and have cut production appropriately (smartly). Everybody is acting smartly based upon the realities everybody knows about.

There is a cost to being an early adopter, which is why there is a $7500 dollar federal tax incentive + state tax incentives to offset the cost of being an early adopter.

So smart that we do not notice that GM sold less Volt in 2014 than in 2013, so smart that we won’t notice that they will sell less and less Volts this year.
My guess is that even with this half-baked VE this much success was unexpected for GM and they try to counter sales as quitly as they can.

So “they aren’t making enough” of a car that you say no one wants? How does that work?

I never said that arachnide

GM were stuck with the original production costs. They trimmed some, but it will take the 2016 to really take it down. It will be interesting to see if they pass the savings on with a lower price or begin by trying to sell the 2016 at the same MSRP as the 2015 to maximize their profits. In the mean time they will trickle out the 2015 as they can get higher profits from the other cars they produce at their factory.

So the volt peaked in 2012 then? I wonder if they are ever going to go back up or if other manufacturers are just going to walk all over them with the volt just sitting at 20k ish for the rest of it’s days. I hope not,

The Volt sales peaked in August of 2013 with 3351 sales, then had another good month in August of 2014 with 2511 sales. Both times GM built up Volt inventory to around 9,000 cars, had a good/record month, then allowed inventory to drop and sales then lagged. Not sure if one necessarily has to follow the other, but that is the way it has shaken out the past two years.