Chevrolet Volt Sales Flat In March

APR 1 2014 BY JAY COLE 45

Chevy Volt St. Patricks

The Chevrolet Volt Didn’t Do A Lot Of St. Patty’s Day Celebrating This Month.

After announcing a short delay “due to a computer systems issue that impacted dealer sales reporting”, General Motors announced that they sold 1,478 Chevy Volts in March – which is exactly the same number of cars they sold a year ago this month.

Not the result we were hoping for, as the wind-down of California’s “green sticker” program this week spurred on sales of competitors (like the Toyota Prius – up 92%) to new highs for the year.

March Proved That It Is Easier To Sell Volts If You Don't Have To Unbury Them First

March Proved That It Is Easier To Sell Volts If You Don’t Have To Unbury Them First

Compared to last month, when GM sold 1,210 copies, an increase of 22% was realized.

This month also ‘kind-of ‘ stops a trend of 3 consecutive months (and 5 of 6 overall) of declining sales for the Volt, mostly brought about by low inventory levels as GM has focused on producing other vehicles at their Hamtramck, Michigan plant for much of the year – such as the $75,995 luxury plug-in Cadillac ELR based on the Chevy Volt, and the new Impala, as well as the Malibu.

Overall, GM has now sold 3,606 plug-in Chevys so far this year, versus the 4,244 moved in 2013 – for a decrease of 15%, while the overall segment is up almost 30%.

With Cadillac ELR production reportedly wound down in mid-February, the Volt’s national inventory level did manage to (finally) increase in March, pushing past the 4,000 unit mark.

Hopefully this month is the start of a ‘new beginning’ for last year’s best selling plug-in vehicle.

Also of note:  This month we learned (via a report from Edmunds) that the 2nd generation Volt will debut next fall as a 2016 model.  If former CEO Dan Akerson’s promise of a lower cost, higher range 2nd gen Volt holds true, an  even brighter future is on the Volt’s horizon.

As for the ‘other’ plug-in cars of interest at GM for the month, the Volt-based Cadillac ELR sold 81 copies, while 108 of the all-electric Chevy Spark EV was moved off lots.

Editor’s note: Data on a raw-volume basis, unadjusted for 26 selling days in March 2014 versus 27 selling days in March 2013

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45 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Flat In March"

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Hey Jay… GM also reports a 7% increase in Volt sales specifically (in addition to their overall sales increase of 7%). Any idea what’s up with that?

Thanks for the quick turn on the article!

Yes, we saw that in their press release cliff notes ourselves which was odd. We also downloaded their spreadsheet just to double check with the YTD math, but the 1,478 number lines up.

You can find their XSLX spreadsheet here.

(There was one less selling day, but those numbers are never factored into the percentages…and it doesn’t add up right either)

If any of the numbers do change, you can bet we will be on it. We have an email in following up already, (=

Thanks Jay… Sounds like I did all the same double-check steps that you did, including an email into James at GM. 🙂

Sounds like they are having a pretty rough April Fool’s Day at GM HQ today, so it might take a few hours to get the snafu sussed out.

EDIT UPDATE: Got in contact with Randal Fox who covers the press for GM, and he stress that both were accurate, even sales…”retail” up 7%

GM reported 7% increase in Volt under the caption Retail Sales, which is not total sales as it excludes fleet etc.

Yes, 7% increase in RETAIL sales is what GM told me when I inquired by email as well.

How can anyone expect them to sell Volts when GM does not advertise? After almost three years of ownership I run into people constantly who know nothing about this car and yet seem very impressed when I tell them about it.

I agree Andy, but similarly, why should GM bother advertising if so many dealers refuse to even stock the Volt?

There’s so much broken with sales/advertising/politics/misconceptions. It’s frustrating.

Or check the innumerable car ads on Cars.com or Autotrader.com for example – where the disconnect seems unexplainable. Dealers all quoting Volt’s MPG as “40mpg”….

SHEESH GM, wake up and smell the advertisements why don’cha???!!!!

Yeah, there’s definitely an issue with how MPG is reported and advertised. It usually results in the electric only operation being completely ignored (which of course is used most of the time).

And in the way of public education, well that still is bad too… In the past two days, I’ve had two people ask me about the Volt. In each case, they didn’t realize there was a gas engine to go further than the battery range. Sigh.

It’s always fun when a Volt or a C-Max or a Nissan Leaf pulls into a parking lot and you get to point them out to people. In that people will walk up to investigate it in that most of them don’t even know electric and plug in cars exist.

I think sales will remain flat or decrease until gen 2 is available

Most likely they will give it 50 to 60 miles of range just in time for Tesla’s Generation 3 to crash the party and bring about the coming gas car doomsday.

Sales will be flat or go down because many dealerships are doing a very poor job of representing Volt sales or perhaps even not ordering any inventory to sell. This is one car dealerships don’t like to stock up on except a few like Rydell and Keyes in So. Cal.

+1

Very broken franchised model. It continues to baffle me how dealers can opt out of selling a product.

Think a McDonalds franchise could opt out of selling a Big Mac? No, they can opt out of specials, but all products are sold at every McDonalds.

At 1,478 the Volt plug-in hybrid still outsold the Prius plug-in hybrid at 1,452, even with Toyota offering a low lease at $20/mo less than a base Prius v, and just $20/mo more than the base Prius lift back….all with just $999 down.

Toyota paid quite a bit in March to land at #2.

Damn, I was expecting a big increase of people trying to get the Green stickers.

Actually, people don’t buy Volt for the sticker in CA. They do that with Prius PLugin. B/c PIP Is the cheapest way to get the sticker.

Just about every PIP in CA has the Green sticker where Volt doesn’t.

Couple of my coworkers are looking at the Volt right now and they don’t really care if the stickers are available or NOT. The price is more important to them. They don’t even look at the the Prius PLugin b/c the difference in EV range.

How is PiP cheaper than the Volt? I thought the $7500 tax credit (Volt) versus $2500 tax credit (PiP) pushes the Volt price lower overall.

Because of this: “2014 Prius Plug-In – 0% APR for 60 months PLUS $1,000 Bonus Cash”

The difference is about $5K starting price. And both get the $1,500 but that makes the price to appear lower.

In fact, some of the co worker who bought PIP didn’t even know that Volt gets the entire $7,500.

“Survey says”, “No”. That is the survey done by CA CVRP.

“The primary motivations for vehicle purchase vary significantly between models – Leaf drivers indicated the environment as the primary motivator, Plug-in Prius owners stated HOV lane access and Volt drivers specified fuel savings.”

and leaf owners dont care how they look

Your right, they aren’t so insecure they need to worry about what other people think about their cars.

I agree that Prius owners shouldn’t care what others think about how their car looks. But one has to wonder why they don’t.

Jay,

FWIW, it seems that the Spark’s 108 sales is in fact a monthly record. No?

Again, not too meaningful for a compliance car – but fact of the matter is, without “Poopside” ads and limited to just 2 states, it continues to easily outsell the Cadillac ELR.

Indeed it is.

Considering its 2 state roll-out and its size/compliance status (only about 300 in inventory available to buy), it was a fairly decent result.

I imagine that would translate to 400-odd if it was a national product with depth. That being said, likely still way too low for GM to consider widening the release – not enough ‘skin in the game’ for them to do it.

Dealerships not too far from me in Illinois have some very low-mileage used Spark EVs for sale. I think people are buying them to get the incentives, the selling them at a profit in the middle of the USA. These dealerships are asking $26K to $27K for these Spark EVs, and some just have a few hundred miles on them. They must have been hauled from the west-coast by truck.

Jay, why wouldn’t they at least expand to the incentive-rich state of Georgia? It seems crazy not to.

IMO only (not speaking for the site or GM):

I think the economics of scale on low numbers like this don’t benefit GM to do so. Its a nice little car/package for today, but they pretty much set production run in South Korea that they feel will adequately cover their ZEV credit requirements – then they sell them. So mission accomplished.

They may choose to expand the roll-out, but that seems unlikely as Nissan is further threatening any existing players (that they already dominate)in the entire low to mid end of the pure EV spectrum with gen 2 very close – all thanks to the other OEMs relative indifference to the BEV segment.

In a nutshell: GM upper management – always the most stupid guys in the room, esp. when it comes to energy-efficient models.

Poor GM.
They can’t do anything right.
Expect a big disappointment on Gen2.
It is clear that GM will do the minimum.

Just three years ago when the Volts started rolling out in numbers, I remember all the Volt-heads were happy to buy at full price.

Now that same car great car is being discounted up to $12K and yet all I hear is a bunch of pissing and moaning about GM. It’s not that bad people.

The price isn’t the problem… The problem is lack of advertising and the fact the dealers really don’t want to sell them unless somebody basically walks onto the lot and asks for one.. And even then we’ve heard so many stories of dealers trying to persuade those interested that they’d be better off with a Cruze.

I’m pretty sure I heard this complaint about 10 million times during the last three years:

“It’s a great car, but just way too expensive.”

I agree that GM’s Volt marketing sucks.

I never talk to a dealership person until after I’ve already decided what car I want. The internet makes that easy. I bought my Volt before I ever saw it.

So GM should be allowed to sell all “plugin cars” direct like Tesla?

GM killed the electric car again. It’s a pure compliance car, the sales in Europe have come close to nothing. Many dealers have opt-out from the program, Opel has even removed the Ampera from their online booking page for test drives.

https://www.opel.de/tools/probefahrt.html

2 comments:

I hope the 2016 is not a ‘cheapened’ vehicle in the same way that you can’t get a decent stereo in the 2014 volt at any price whereas it came standard in the 2011.

Related to that: A friend just drove a chevy cruze and declared it a junk car. He has also driven my Volt and said there is no comparison. “The Volt is a Very Refined Car”.

And here I thought they were very similiar cars. Its uncanny that a third person, not particularly caring whether it is electric or not, has such a high opinion of the VOLT anyway IRRESPECTIVE of its higher price.

I bet the same principle applies to the ELR, but time will tell…

+1 for the story. Your friend nailed it.

That’s exactly the problem with most large automakers: after 100+ years, making a crappy-plus ICE car that looks good on the dealer lots and nets them a few grand, plus many many thousands in parts and maintenance over the years – is too easy.

Working a bit harder to future-proof your entire line of products and hence your entire company, even by doing as little as putting in a solid, across-the-board ICE-hybrid tech – in most automaker boardrooms that’s never worth it.

Hence the need for intense prodding from governments. After all, governments are the ones eventually bailing out these idiots from their “dance on the Titanic deck” mindset.

Governments, not automakers, are also the ones who will be on the hook digging through the debris of climate catastrophes and oil-supply crises.

It still sold quite a bit. It’s alright.

My local Chevy dealer doesn’t sell the Volt. The other dealer I visit only stocks the ones in white, grey and brown because Chevy charges extra for the red or pale blue colors on the Volt. But if you look at the rest of the lot, plenty of bright colors mixed in. I don’t mean to insult those who think grey and brown Volts look great compared to brighter colors. I just think the brighter colors draw more attention, thereby more interest.

GM is getting slammed in the press right now for their ignition switch problems on other models. While that doesn’t impact these numbers that much, it probably will impact the next few months.

It is interesting to note that the 2014 Volt currently has no GM factory cash incentive, while the 2014 Cruze, Malibu, Impala, Camero, Traverse, Tahoe, Suburban, Avalanche, and Silverado all have factory Cash allowances of between $500-$5,250 dollars.

It doesn’t really look like GM is pushing all that hard right now to outright sell Volts. Maybe they are just as focused on waiting to push relaunching the second generation Volt, just like the rest of consumers seem to be.

I am proudly one of those 1,478. Been wanted a Volt for a long time and finally made it happen.
I can confirm that most dealers just don’t like to sell them. I got so frustrated when salesmen would try to sell me a Cruze. Happened nearly every time.
A ton of these are sold at a handful of power dealers across the country that get bonuses from GM for selling above a certain threshold. If dealers don’t sell a bunch of them, they don’t make much money off each one.
After one month, I have to say that if there’s a better all-around car in the country, I’m not sure what it is. Exceeded my expectations. By the way, I design cars for a living, and not for GM.
I got mine from a dealer in Austin, TX, who made me a sweet deal. They sell tons of them. Austin has the lowest Volt prices in the country, according to TrueCar. It was worth me flying to Austin and driving 700 miles home.

I’m curious whether you went with the 2013 or ’14, and which dealer? I live in Austin and am seriously considering purchasing one next month.

I got a ’14 from AutoNation West Austin. I did a lot of research and talked to dealers from Georgia to Texas to Michigan.

Thanks–That’s where I test drove one. Looking forward to driving one home!