Chevrolet Volt Sales Flat In May, Loses Sales Lead To Nissan. Time For A Price Cut We Reckon

JUN 3 2013 BY JAY COLE 26

GM CEO Dan Akerson Says Big Price Reductions Are In The Chevrolet Volt's Future.  With Sales Struggling, We Figure That Time Starts Now

GM CEO Dan Akerson Says Big Price Reductions Are In The Chevrolet Volt’s Future. With Sales Struggling, We Figure That Time Starts Now

May sales results for the Chevrolet Volt can be taken as either a positive, a negative…or maybe something in between.

For The First Time In Recent Memory Volt Inventories Level Off In May

For The First Time In Recent Memory Volt Inventories Level Off In May

During the month, General Motors sold 1,607 Volts, breaking a string of 3 consecutive declining monthly results (Feb – 1,626, Mar – 1,478, April – 1,306).  That would be the positive spin.

On the not so great side of the ledger, this marks another month of failing to match year over year comps, as in May of 2012, Chevrolet sold 1,680 Volts, down 4.4%.  For the year, the 38 mile extended range plug-in is still up by a very slight margin of 1.4%.

  • 2013 Volt Sales (through May) 7,157
  • 2012 Volt Sales (through May) 7,057

Adding some fuel to the fire in May, is the realization that Nissan has once again put up some pretty fantastic monthly results for the 3rd month in a row, and has actually wrestled away the yearly sale title (ex-Tesla) from GM for the first time since 2011.

What Seemed Like A Unthinkable Reality Even A Few Months Ago, the Nissan LEAF Has Now Outsold The Volt In The US

What Seemed Like A Unthinkable Reality Even A Few Months Ago, the Nissan LEAF Has Now Outsold The Volt In The US


Nissan has now sold 7,614 LEAFs to GM’s 7,157 Volts.

On the production side, GM has finally decided to slow production of the Chevy Volt at its Hamtramck, Michigan facility to stop the trend of adding more and more days of inventory of the car on dealer lots.  While General Motors as not (as of yet) released the exactly numbers, Volt inventory stayed mostly unchanged around 9,500-odd units available for sale.


Price Cut Coming?

Buoyed from the confidence of last month asking the question of Honda – ‘Why, oh why, do you not cut the lease rate ($389/month) …to get cars sold and out the door?’, only to see the Japanese company indeed move that lease down to $259 (with unlimited mileage), we will now suggest the same thing is coming for the Chevrolet Volt.  A price cut for model year 2014.

Beside the obvious reason why the company should do it (like the fact the LEAF increased sales by 300% over the last 3 months because of one), and they fact they have promised significant price reductions in the past that failed to materialize last year, we will point out some obvious points.

  • GM has basically offered a flat $3,000+ off the price of the Volt for most of 2013 to anyone who wants one.  A precursor to a reduction?
  • Hamtramck, Michigan production of the Volt has not be congruent with current demand. If GM was not going to reduce the price of the Volt shortly, why would they continue to build current inventory levels to a near all-time highs, especially with a model year change coming emminently?  At current sell rates from the last 3 months, they have enough cars on dealer lots now to not need to build another car for almost the rest of the year
  • Not that long ago CEO Akerson set a sales target of 36,000 Voltec cars (Chevy Volt, Holden Volt, Opel Ampera and Vauxhall Ampera) for 2013.  With the sales outside the US on the Ampera almost non-existent, and Canada only adding a little more than 300 through May, GM needs to seat least 30,000 units in the US, or about 23,000 more in 7 months.  That is 3,263 per month from here on out
  • GM also expects to reduce the price of the Volt by $7,000 to $10,000 in a couple years time for the 2nd generation, we assume there would be some gradual lowering of the price over time ahead of that day as opposed to a drastic one time chop

A 2014 Chevrolet Volt product and pricing announcement is expected out shortly this month…so make with the red pen already GM, and lets get sales back on track!

Categories: Chevrolet, Sales


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26 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Flat In May, Loses Sales Lead To Nissan. Time For A Price Cut We Reckon"

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Yep – If I were in the market for a Volt right now, I’d be waiting at least a month before pulling the trigger. I expect a price cut coming soon.

Lately I’ve learned to expect disappointment from GM. They disappointed on ELR. They release no news about Gen 2….and I suspect it’s because their just ain’t much to talk about. As far as what Akerson has said about targets for both this years production and the incredibly far away and mysterious Gen 2 ….expect another disappointment.

So my prediction is: Squat for a price reduction on 2014 Volts. continuing or lower sales for the rest of 2013, a missed target for full year 2013 Volt sales and a bigger and bigger lead for the Leaf.

Why would GM say anything (any jeopardize current sales) about Gen 2 which will not arrive for another 1 to 2 years from now?

Possibly to keep the interest alive and to reassure the public that they haven’t given up on it.

GM has already jeopardized the Gen.1 Volt sales by deprioritizing marketing, stripping down the models, keeping the price high and the pressure on the dealerships to properly sell the cars low, and by introducing the Spark EV and the ELR.

“Stripping down the models”? Where on earth did GM do that to the Volt?

Also, didn’t you just state below that GM must introduce new models? “Where is the all-electric Volt? Where is the mid-scale Buick Electra? (Ampera’s cousin)? Where is the MPV5?” Now you spin additional models like the Spark and the ELR as jeopardizing the Gen 1 Volt sales? Unreal.

Yeah, it is unreal. GM has something very special with the Volt and they don’t seem interested in selling it. That by the way includes making useful derivatives and improvements upon the Voltec drivetrain. Some people have been waiting for a while to get an ELR or a Spark EV instead of a Volt.

How did GM strip down the 2013 and soon 2014 Volts? By removing little things, like the dual tone roof and tailgate and paint colors, the perforated leather, the HDD time-shifting and DVD Audio/Video entertainment system, the backup camera guidelines, the 120V 13A default charging, the safety-colored orange charge cord, the LED illumination light on the cord plug, even the aluminum applique on the inverter cover, the automated remote-open charging lid, etc.

Sure, GM added a slightly higher capacity (500 Wh) battery, a power flow screen, lane departure and front collision alert system options, and the ever controversial Hold charge mode. But comparing the changes to what Nissan did with their 2013 Leaf illustrates the commitment the two car makers have to their EVs. And I think the world-wide sales reflect that.

I fully expected the LEAF to outsell the Volt. How can they not with a $6K – $8K price advantage? The LEAF will continue to outsell the Volt until there’s a significant price reduction for the Volt. I sure hope GM decides to do something soon.

GM HAS done something, it introduced the Spark EV. It is a product that competes head-to-head with the Leaf and beats it on price and range. So the true comparision will be the Leaf vs the Spark in Head-to-Head markets.


The head-to-head markets being two. GM has not introduced the Spark EV anywhere else. Those two markets are also rather competitive with the Fit EV, the Fiat 500e, and the Smart ForTwo ED zooming around, and the i3 coming rather late, but coming nevertheless.

Also frankly people complaining about the size of the Volt will find the Spark EV rather tight.

Where is the all-electric Volt? Where is the mid-scale Buick Electra? (Ampera’s cousin)? Where is the MPV5?

Where is the electric-car fairy? LOL. The one that waives a wand and makes EV engineering breakthroughs instantaneous and new product roll outs immediately world-wide and profitable? Infiniti wants to know. The expectation that GM must introduce other models now while Nissan only has one is unjustified.

It took years for the Leaf to beat the Volt in sales and it only did it by decontenting the Leaf to lower its price. Here, the Spark now beats the Leaf in price and range and performance. It will be interesting to see how the head-to-head markets react because it will be a harbinger of things to come when GM decides to expand US markets.

Nissan has two actually, the LEAF and eNV-200. Renault, Nissan’s partner has, let’s see, 4 plugin models currently out.

Why not look at Ford instead of Nissan? Ford has three plugin models on the US market. Surely GM, which restarted that whole plugin “mumbo-jumbo”, has the know-how, the size, and the power to do more.

First, the comparison was Volt to Leaf. Thus the discussion of GM and Nissan Second, the eNV-200 is unavailable until 2014 at the earliest. It is a business van, not consumer vehicle.

As for Ford, their COMBINED sales figures of their 3 plugins amounts to half of the Volt’s sales last month. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the demand for additional models.

From when is a tiny sub-compact going in a head to head competition with compacts ?

Given the pricing Fit EV will beat Spark EV easily in CA.

We drove a volt over the weekend and really liked it. We however leased the Honda FIT. The Volt was a very nice car though. I wasn’t expecting to like it as some of the net posts were rather negative. It seems quite nice and roomy. Noting the four passenger limitation which doesn’t mean anything to us. Almost fell for their lease but came to our senses and got the Honda.

Did you consider the Fit EV? Or is it not available in your area?

Answered my own question, Just saw your comment on the sales article. Enjoy the Fit EV.

I am thinking they will go for an MSRP price drop to match Nissan’s move with the LEAF. Something like $5k off the base model would kick things into gear.

Big price drop coming for the VOLT in July!

The Volt is not a Leaf. The Leaf does not have a (range extender, exhaust system and gas tank) $$.
Instead of reducing the price of the Volt GM should pull out the (range extender, exhaust system and gas tank), spin the T battery 180deg move it to the front of the car, making room for the fifth rear passenger, and add additional battery under the rear seats to match or beat the Leaf range and call it VoltEV. With any luck they’ll end up with an EV that breaks the 120 mile (EPA) range and be able to price it comparable to a Leaf. Oh and don’t forget to add faster charging. The SparkEV although great for city driving is too small to comfortably fit 5 people.


I’m pretty sure the “top” of the T-battery needs to be adjacent to the wheels so it well protected from side-impacts. So if it was flipped 180, it would probably interfere with the front-drive motor assembly.

Perhaps an easier way to carry more passengers would be with a wagon/hatch body style and a couple (optional) rear-facing seats … ala Model-S. That would also increase headroom for the existing rear seats … a problem for some.

As far fetched as it sounds that’s not too bad an idea. However I still think GM should put the batts in the floor.

That would be ideal but GM has shied away from change before. The T cell design is an EV1 left over and the ICE is an off-the-shelf 4 cylinder. They would probably want to use the existing SparkEV battery.


The price of the Volt has to come down. I’m still in the 3K ballpark as to how much, but it will be enough to advertise “Under $30,000” after fed tax rebate.

I’m one of those waiting for the price to come down. Once it does…I’ll be buying.

The comparison between the Leaf EV and Volt Plug-In Hybrid makes no sense. A consumer looking for a full EV does not want to burn gasoline and understands the range restrictions are ok with that. The consumer looking for a plug-in hybrid expects EV range, but also expects the ability to drive the vehicle over 400 miles without having to look for a plug. Which is why the Leaf will compete with the #1 Tesla, along with the other low selling EVs. #1 Volt still has a wide lead over the Prius plug-in, with the Ford Energi models outselling the Prius plug-in hybrid and coming after the Volt plug-in hybrid. Either way, with GM dramatically building up Volt inventory at over 9k units, there is a price drop coming. Current lease deal ended 7/1/2013, and no new lease deal is posted. Which is very odd. So a price reduction could be announced any day now. As of today, there is no official lease offer on the Volt on their website. Only the expired purchase and lease deals. Ford’s lease deal for the Energi models end Today 6/3/13. So GM could be waiting to see what Ford offers on 6/4/13 to… Read more »