Chevrolet Volt Sales Improve In October
The two months prior to October were two extreme ends of the sales spectrum for the Chevrolet Volt.
August saw the extended range Chevy set an all-time monthly record for any plug-in vehicle…ever, at 3,351 sold. That result was halved in September with only 1,766 Volts sold.
For October, GM split those goal posts and sold 2,022 Volts – the 2nd best result of any plug-in car for the month narrowly beating out the Nissan LEAF for 3rd by 20 units.
However GM was up against a very aggressive year-over-year comparison when 2,961 were sold in 2012 – meaning the model experienced a 31.7% decrease.
Overall, 2013 total sales stand at 18,782, as compared to 19,309 – down more than 500 units or 2.7%
Once again it appears that a good portion of the monthly sales have come from the 2013 model, with at least $6,000 being offered by GM off the ‘old’ MSRP (from $39,145), and another $1,000 being offered to basically anyone who was leasing any vehicle prior + a 0% financing offer for up to 72 month.
Conversely, 2014 production seems to be moving at a very slow pace out of GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan facility and it is showing in the lack of national incentives and promotion on the new model year of the car. Why discount what you don’t have to sell?
Looking at national inventories, what is interesting is that GM had build up almost 10,000 units of the outgoing 2013 Volt ahead of the summer shutdown and new model year changeover going into July; but ever since re-starting they have failed to build at anywhere near that level, allowing inventory to drop to around 4,000 units (with about 40% of those remaining still of the 2013 variety).
Our guess is they may have been caught off guard by August’s very large result after building as many 2013s as they thought they needed knowing production would be muted in the second half of this year.
Further complicating the matter now is that the high price/high margin, limited run Cadillac ELR (starting from a premium $75,995) will now be monopolizing the Volt’s Michigan assembly line before the holiday shutdown (two weeks in December) and shortly thereafter in all likelihood.
This reality means GM probably can only build at best a further 5,000 odd Volt units before the end of January; potentially leading to a repeat of inventory issues GM experienced a year ago that had Cristi Landy, GM’s marketing director for small cars, admitting in January of 2013 (the month GM only could sell 1,140 Volts due to shortages) that:
“We had some on and off starts with the assembly plant. California, which is our strongest market, was selling great then they would have no products. They’ve run out of products probably three or four times in the last 12 months, it’s been very frustrating.”
We look for the rest of the year and into January to be a disappointment for those expecting a return to big August-like numbers for the Volt. However, it appears to be a case of GM focusing on other, higher margin cars out of the Volt’s DHAM facility to the detriment of the Volt’s sales numbers to end out the year…and these results probably should not be taken as waning interest in the 38 mile extended range EV.
Looking ahead we see a return to both higher sales and deeper inventories early in 2014…along with a cost reduction in the lease offer to make those sales happen. The current $20,000+ cost of the 36 month lease (including the $7,500 federal credit) is inexplicably high.