Chevrolet Volt Sales Rebound In October – Future Outlook & Market Share

NOV 6 2015 BY MARK KANE 59

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt rebounded in October and noted its first sales growth year-over-year since…over a year.

It’s all thanks to the new generation Volt, which improved sales by over 40% to 2,035.  Despite only being available (in a inventory-limited way) for the last couple weeks of the month, 1,324 2016 copies were sold.

With increasing availability of the 2016 model year  Volt (and soon the 2017 nationwide release which starts production in February/deliveries ~April) with 53 miles of EPA range, we hope for further growth and a new record.

How about the Volt being the first plug-in for the United States hitting the 4,000 a month mark sometime next year?

The Volt again is also back to the over 1% share of all Chevrolet sales, which means more than 1 per 100 Chevrolets sold were Volts.

In October, the Chevy was the best selling plug-in car in the U.S. and contributed the most to the U.S. achieving a tiny growth in overall plug-in sales during the month:

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales - October 2015

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales – October 2015

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59 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Rebound In October – Future Outlook & Market Share"

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I suspect we’ll see the Volt hit the magic 4,000 number when Summer rolls around.

Thank you for reporting the VOlt as a percentage of Chevy sales, and not just a percentage of all plug-ins. I’m growing increasingly frustrated at the focus on the breakdown within the plug-in market rather than its place within the greater market. I think this unwittingly pits plug-ins against each other, rather than on the same team.

That said, looking into 2016, I don’t see how the new Volt wouldn’t lead the way. The best just got better! So now we should be comparing Volt sales to Prius sales. And total Chevy sales. And – dare I say it – other Chevy models? Could that give us a clue as to the relative success of the Volt? Maybe we could see a breakdown of Chevy’s sales by model, including everything from the Volt/Spark EV to the Malibu and Silverado?


Don’t ever underestimate the Volt hating public or the incompetent GM marketing team…


I sure hope I am wrong.

Yesterday and today I saw my first two 2016 Volts in the wild in Cambridge, MA. The blue looks amazing.

I really hope GM will actually want to sell them this time.

Do car sales people even sell any more? We’re near Boston and after visiting three Chevrolet dealers I am convinced that they are just there to process paperwork and collect a commission check. One even told me to go online to configure my Volt, print it out and then return. Even at the Big E, there was no one at the Chevrolet display who was even willing to discuss the Volt with me. all they and the dealers seem to want to actually sell are trucks. Tesla is beginning to look good.

Glass half empty: with what seemed as lots of pent-up demand, it’s somewhat disappointing to be still in 1%. Gas prices certainly had a role in it.

It’s still in limited availability. Next summer should be interesting

This month will be the first full month the ’16 Volt will be on the market…will be interesting to see how many sales are logged. Even then, sales will still be limited to dealerships in CARB states.

The first full month the ’17 Volt is available for delivery nationwide (April/May ’16?) may be when the 4k sales barrier will be broken.

Duh. I should’ve known from SparkEV sales. If they’re sold out, they’re not likely to have sales. I would be curious to know if there’s any Volt for sale or are they all sold out.

In that regard, total sales figure may not mean much for limited availability cars. But how do you quantify “sales”? Total sales number along with unsold inventory number?

I was bored last week and edited together a promotional video for the 2016 Chevrolet volt. If anyone cares to see it here’s the link:

Nice work.

Thank you.

What? Streets of San Francisco, and you didn’t even get it airborn (Bullitt style) for the video????


Seriously though, it looks very professional. Nice.

You should send it to the Chevy’s marketing department.

Interesting video. I especially was curious as to Nitz’s comment that the car is ‘full electric’ and also has a complete engine, whatever that means.

Looking at the dual planetary gearbox set up, to me the new volt should drive quite similarly to the new Malibu Hybrid, in that the Engine is part of the ‘top’ planetary gearset.

This also explains the reviews of the new volt where most people thought it was ‘smoother’ then GEN 1, but one reviewer thought he felt a ‘shudder’ when the engine started.

Since the engine is permanently attached to the top planetary gear set, I’d think it would, as the one reviewer stated, act more like a hybrid drivetrain. But this is advertising, so people will say what they’re going to say.

Two things seem for sure:

1). The new volt makes more good use out of its electric and gas components.

2). The new volt is more economical and more powerful than its predecesor.

the volt doesn’t really play that well in the ev enthusiast segment because that segment is going to prefer a bev. the best prospects for the volt are in the general automotive segment; there the challenge is to educate the general market consumer that they can realize some of the positive attributes of electric vehicles without the inconvenience that comes with bev’s.

in other words, the volt has to clearly differentiate itself from cars like the tesla model s and the nissan leaf.

It differentiates itself from the Leaf (gas engine backup, and it doesn’t look hideous) as well as the Tesla (doesn’t cost your first born child).

If only GM can figure out a way to market it properly….

the gasoline backup is the advantage that the volt has over both the leaf and the model s. to the ev enthusiast, that isn’t an advantage but it is a huge convenience benefit to those who aren’t ev enthusiasts.

my thinking is that gm needs to make clear that the volt is *not* a leaf and it is *not* a model s and i think the marketing should make that clear. once you separate the volt from those cars, then it becomes, i believe, easier for people to view the volt as a “regular” car.

Do you really get an increase in electric miles with an (affordable) BEV? According to a detailed INNL study, the average volt travels 94% the annual electric miles as a LEAF (~9,112 miles for Volt vs 9,697 miles for LEAF) and 96% when workplace charging is available (11,448 vs 11,882 miles). Pretty darn close.

Of course, the Volts in that study were doing about 2k miles extra on gas, but then again the Leaf owners were probably just using a second car that averaged a lower mpg than the Volt for those longer trips. The balance may tilt a little with longer range and increased charging access, but that goes for the 2016 Volt as well…

In any case a PHEV with 50-mile range and workplace charging is likely to achieve at least 80% the annual electric miles as a 200-mile car with widespread DC quick charging, on average. Considering one of those techs is already on the road and can easily work for a one car household (like my own), seems quite short-sighted to take a “pure” BEV or nothing perspective. We need more options of both types! And expanded charging availability…


Vibe2Volt said:

“In any case a PHEV with 50-mile range and workplace charging is likely to achieve at least 80% the annual electric miles…”

According to the graph below (first link), you’d need a PHEV with a 55 mile electric range to be able to cover 80% of daily drives by American drivers, without using any gasoline. Of course, that’s not the same metric you’re using, but it’s a useful comparison.

And both of us are using some oversimplifications. One such is assuming that people’s driving habits don’t change when they switch from driving a gasmobile, to a PEV. But if you look at a graph of the daily driving distance for Volts (second link), you see a sharp dropoff after 40 miles… which indicates that Volt drivers are consciously choosing to limit their driving to no more than 40 miles, when possible. Or at least, that’s my interpretation of the data.

It looks like you misunderstood the graph you posted, or got the wrong graph linked. The graph in your post does not determine the AER needed to get to a given EV% because there are reasons gas is used that have almost no correlation to AER.

Next, your statement that “Volt drivers are consciously choosing to limit their driving to no more than 40 mile” is not supported by real data that you cited. Likely, the average commute length (~16 miles) has much more to do with the number of days the majority of drivers don’t drive over 40 miles. Regardless, to make your claim you need daily driving data (not yearly) from other cars in the same segment.

If 55 miles gets you 80% of daily drives, and you max out the 55 miles on the remaining 20% of daily drives, seems like the total share of miles driven would eclipse 80% easily in most cases… 50, 55 miles range for 80%, 85% of annual miles travelled… seems like a reasonable estimate based on real world driving habits.

in a leaf the amount of driving you can do is limited by the battery, so it may very well be the case that leaf owners would have driven more if they would have been able to do so.

100% agree. The PHEV is the best chance at getting average people to adopt mostly electric cars and reduce oil usage. Plug it into your garage and commute to work every day on electricity. But otherwise, it’s a typical ICE car. Volt 1.0 proved the use case – 70-80% of all miles driven are electric. Having an ICE is a tremendous advantage as it keeps the battery operating in the sweet spot by providing it heat and dramatically reduced degradation over its lifetime.

Leaf and Model S owners are seeing 30% lower range in freezing temperatures. Leaf and Model S owners are seeing double digit range loss after only 30k miles. Recharge times are high. You need special charging infrastructure. It’s a long term dream and not something practical for right now.

“Leaf and Model S owners are seeing 30% lower range in freezing temperatures.”

For the Model S, you’re citing the worst end of the spectrum. Reported range loss in very cold temperatures varies between 20-30% for the Model S. Much of the difference between 20% and 30% is pre-heating the Model S when it’s still plugged in, and knowing the proper charging procedure in cold weather.

Fair point.

you don’t actually know. when the editor of gm-volt test drove the volt (in cold weather), as i recall, he experienced range losses a lot greater than 30% (although i think in did some aggressive driving).

That’s the challenge. In the general automotive segment, the trick is to get people to stop thinking only about saving money. Because the Volt never wins when it’s compared to a base model Cruze on ownership cost alone. Better to go after those entry-level BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Acura buyers. You won’t win over the ones who buy for the brand prestige, but for people just looking for a nicer-than-average car the Volt’s a strong choice.

To me, the juiciest (and most realistic) conquest targets are current Prius owners. 100k+ in annual sales ripe for the taking.

This has been puzzling for a long time. Post subsidy Volt is within few percentage of mid/upper Prius, yet Prius has more sales. Why? I doubt it’s the small percentage difference. More GM incompetence (great product, poor sales)?

I completely agree. With the redesigned Prius offering only marginally better efficiency GM needs to use vizualizations that show the percentage of trips that are full electric and then show the gallons per 100 miles between Volt and Prius (Prius is only marginally better but this is vastly outweighed by the huge percentage of full electric trips taken by Volt owners).

GM also needs to put the Voltec power train into the new Malibu and get Voltec volume up.

you raise another good point; it is a loser to try to sell the volt as an “economy” car. that was one of my criticisms about the way that the volt was marketed when it was first introduced: people offered up far-fetched scenarios about how the volt actually “saved” you money. the problem is that the people who are looking for economy cars are not going to spend $40,000 on a car. in that regard, attempts to position the volt as an “economy” car will always lose out to cars that really are economy cars.

I 100% agree – selling Volt as an economy car is a huge failure. Volt must be sold as a green halo car.

It’s absurd that it lacks power seats and a power sunroof. It’s also too small because it is basically a Chevy Cruze. The voltec power train needs to be married up to the new Malibu.

I think it plays perfectly well in the EV enthusiast segment; there are many Volt drivers (myself included) in the comments of sites like these that rave about their EV% and total EV miles logged.

I think there is a vocal minority of BEV purists who insist that actual number of EV miles to the ground is less important than whether your vehicle is capable of using gas. But I don’t think these objections diminish the differentiation of the Volt as an EV:

– many potential EV drivers find the Leaf to have insufficient range
– many potential Model S owners can’t afford one

The Volt already does a good job of attempting to bridge the gap.

I would love to see the stats of Leaf owners choosing a Volt as their next car vs the other direction. Of course this will change once reasonably priced 200 mile BEVs arrive.

Even a 200-mile AER range affordable car would not eliminate the necessity for most people in the country to need an ICE because outside CA, NY, etc., fast chargers are still not common.

So far, the vast majority of sales of pure EV’s have gone to multi-car households.

So why not one of both? Having both a PHEV and a BEV would work very well for most multi-car households.

Have the driver who drives the least on a daily basis drive the PHEV, maximizing EV-mode mileage. Then use the PHEV for road trips and have endless range and no range anxiety.

Have the driver who drives the most on a daily basis drive the BEV for local trips to get the most out of the battery range each day. Never worry about range anxiety because you don’t use it for road trips.

For a 2016 Volt and a 2016 Leaf, that gives 150+ miles worth of EV-range at a 2 car household’s disposal every morning. And endless range for road trips.

With EV’s and PHEV’s, of course YMWV (Your Mileage WILL Vary) and this won’t work for everybody. But when it comes to mass market new car sales, you only have to satisfy the needs of a significant number of New Car Buyers to make your product successful. And having one of each should do that.

Thank you!! I’m so tired of hearing BEV purists talk down the Volt (or really even the Prius). The Volt does an excellent job of displacing alot of gasoline consumption (as does the Prius). If we want gasoline displacement, let’s celebrate those that are helping make that possible.

I predict sales to flatten out and disappoint again after a couple of months of pent up demand. The weaknesses of the Volt are still there.

– Its too cramped an interior to be comfortable for most people. No realistic seating for 5.
– Inclusion of a gas engine is seen as a negative by those who want to go electric. It may be looked at as just another hybrid and gets compared based on how much money it saves in gas.
– Higher range LEAF with twice the electric range becoming available nationwide.

I don’t really think either will be a breakout success. The Bolt could be a game changer if it has decent room inside and really has 200+ miles range.

The Mitsubishi Outlander could do really well despite being a PHEV because its the SUV/CUV segment that is most popular these days.

If the Volt had a CUV/SUV body shape it would sell extremely well.

“Inclusion of a gas engine is seen as a negative by those who want to go electric. It may be looked at as just another hybrid and gets compared based on how much money it saves in gas.”

This is the massive failure of EV fanatics. EV fanatics have walked away from 80% reductions in gasoline use. The truth is most EV fanatics are just status seekers only interested in environmentalism to the extent that it offers them a sense of superiority. Pure EV’s play really well to that whereas extended range PHEV’s are what any clear thinking engineering brain see’s as a brilliant solution for the times.

Zim said:

“This is the massive failure of EV fanatics. EV fanatics have walked away from 80% reductions in gasoline use.”

While I completely agree that EV “purists” dismissing or belittling the Volt is both irritating and counter-productive, it helps if we stick to real numbers. reports about 71% electric miles (as opposed to gas-powered miles) for Volts, not 80%. Now, it’s possible the Volt 2.0 might achieve 80%, but it’s too early to know just what the increase will be.

Through workplace and public charging I end up three years of Volt ownership with 82% electric miles (36,806 out of 45,000 miles). This also included three 2000+ mile and numerous 200-300 mile road trips. If I skipped the trips I would have probably been 98% electric.

+1 Good post. But do try to take your own advice. Your earlier post I replied to did not seem to stick with real numbers.

“Sticking to real numbers” doesn’t actually help at all, as the objection being raised by BEV purists is that the gas engine exists. So whether the real numbers are 71%, 80%, or 90% gasoline mile elimination, their objection is still the same: the Volt is a “filthy gas guzzler” that is “polluting the planet.”

And some of them even do it while driving a Prius (which gets 100% of its miles from gas). It’s the textbook example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

Precisely. Well said.

I call BS on this statement: “The truth is most EV fanatics are just status seekers only interested in environmentalism to the extent that it offers them a sense of superiority.”

I know quite a few EV owners and PHEV owners. None of them fit this description. In fact I know one BEV owner who’s 2nd car is … a Volt!

I own a BEV, but our 2nd car is still ICE. When we replace that one in 2020 we will see if a BEV can perform for our vacation trips. If not, it’ll be a PHEV.

The “compact car” market segment is the second largest segment of passenger cars in the United States. The “large car” segment is actually much smaller than the compact car segment.

Clearly somebody wants compact cars with the interior size of the Volt. Or so many people wouldn’t be buying them.

Yes, we need more PHEV’s offered in more sizes. The more the better.

But there are quite a few successful compact cars. Being a compact car doen’t mean it can’t be successful.

All, I live in the Midwest. I am waiting for the Volt to arrive in my state! I am in the market segment some posters pointed out here – entry level BMW’s Mercedes or Audi’s. I want to buy a Volt because it seems fun to drive. It is some thing different than the tried and proven internal combustion engines. It is less about saving money on Gas. You see, in my mind, buying a car is NEVER about saving money or making an investment. 99% of the cars you buy are wasting your money and terrible expenses! It is about enjoyment. So no one should compare a Volt with a Cruz. I also don’t want to buy a all electric car. My daily drive is less than 50 miles. So what if the car can go 200 miles in a charge?! I still can’t take an all electric car for an out of town trip even it is a 200-mile range car (at this point). So after my daily usage, the other 150-mile capacity just sits in my garage! So what’s the difference between owning a 53-mile Volt vs. a 200-mile electric car! None I see. At least with… Read more »

EV fanboys are quick to wave their hands and say “ah you hardly ever drive more than 80 miles” or something to that effect.

Yes, but that really matters A LOT you dolts.

How about a weekend trip to the countryside skiing or visiting wineries? How about visiting family that live a hundred miles away and far away from any Supercharger? The 4-6 times a year I do that matters a lot to me and owning a car with a 4-600 mile range offers me that flexibility. Real people want and benefit from range that is greater than 200 miles, especially when you consider the fact that BEV’s are significantly impacted by the temperature and road conditions (-30% range when it is cold outside).

I think you are the dolt.

4-6 times a year out of 365 days?! Use the freaking gas!

I live in the country among bunch of wineries, some call it boonies. I’m doing fine with SparkEV. With DCFC, drive out to the city is not a problem, and inter-city 300 miles per day trip is possible.

It’s about the infrastructure, which SoCal seem to be doing well. So far, haven’t been to gas station in over 6 months; I miss slurpie…

100% agree. It is about the infrastructure.

You can find Super Chargers AND have available slots now because there are still few EVs out there. What if there are 1 million, 2 million, 10 million, 20 million EVs on the road? You take the car out of town, you want to wait in line for 30-minutes per car to charge 50%? I don’t think so.

In my mind, Volt is a better answer (for now) for a every day usage car. Buy some gas when you need those occasional long trips. God forbid you have spend a little (or pollute a little).

To solve that infrastructure issue, maybe fuel cell is the better answer. Maybe Toyota has it right. Who knows..

What makes you assume we’re stuck with current number of chargers or even current level of charging speed when there are 2 million EV on the road? Even if there are 2 million EV, 90%+ of use will be met with home/work charging, requiring far fewer DCFC than gas stations.

If there aren’t enough chargers and people are standing in line, there will be more chargers to meet the demand, unless government gets in the way, which seem to be the case with them treating electricity as utility rather than “fuel” at the moment.

I am not assuming there won’t be any additional chargers. Heck, if one can say charging is going to take 2 minutes in the future, then we don’t have a problem, do we?

You see, I am just a consumer. Not a EV infrastructure genius. Until I can see what is available, I buy what fits the present. What I see at the present is that Volt is a more functional car than an all electric EV, unless of course, you have another gasoline car standby for long trips.

Using your rhetoric, how do you know there will need any charging station at all in the “future” because we would be flying cars I was told…

Do we have 2017 Volt EPA numbers yet, and a list of what the changes are going to be?

I feel like I’ve missed the point of GM starting to manufacture 2017’s a month into 2016?

There are no indications that the EV range or Extended range MPGs will be any different. A few enhancements have been mentioned (adaptive cruise control, etc)

One likely speed bump in near-future Volt sales is that California, as of 10/5, had issued just under 76k of the 85k Green HOV stickers (for PHEVs) available. I’m guessing they probably issued around 2k last month, but CARB hasn’t posted the number yet. If they don’t expand the number available again (for the fourth time), California PHEV sales will take a big hit, as the stickers are worth more in time savings to the average PHEV customer (given their avg. income) than the federal and state incentives combined.

Have a 2015 Volt and was looking to upgrade to a 2016 but was told that Florida will not get the 2016 so I’ll have to wait for the 2017. Have been lucky to have owned MB, BMW, GM, Chrysler and other vehicles but have enjoyed driving the Volt more than any other car. Find the extended range feature to be an added advantage.