Chevrolet Volt Sales Surge In US For May

JUN 2 2015 BY JAY COLE 73

May 15th Marked The End Of 1st Gen Chevrolet Production At GM's Hamtramck, Michigan Facility

May 15th, 2015 Marked The End Of 1st Gen Chevrolet Volt Production At GM’s Hamtramck Facility

No sooner had the last, first generation Chevrolet Volt (in whiteroll off GM’s assembly line in Hamtramck, Michigan, than the largest deals of the year were rolled out on purchasing one.

This renewed marketing vigor saw 2015 model year inventory fall to just over 5,000 units by month’s end, and translated into 1,618 Volts being sold during May – a year high, but still off 3.9% from the 1,684 sold a year ago.

In total, through the first 5 months of the year, 4,397 Volts have been moved, which is off 35.7% from this point in 2014, when 6,838 were sold.

Quite honestly, the ‘story’ is no longer how many extended range plug-ins GM sells each the month now, as all eyes are on the next generation, 2016 Volt – which was priced from $33,995 from the base model, and from $38,345 on the premium LTZ trim level.  In Canada, the Volt was priced from $39,990 (CDN), and was announced for sale in South Korea in 2016.

2016 Chevy Volt Launch Timeline

2016 Chevy Volt Launch Timeline

Thankfully, with California order banks opening at the end of May, we are now closer to first deliveries, than from the 2016 Volt’s debut (full specs/story) from Detroit in January.  First Californian deliveries are expected in early September.

After California, 10 more select states can order in August, and we expect their cars to start arriving around October/November.  National orders open October 1st, with deliveries likely happening just before year’s end.

Video (below):  During May, GM also began promoting the 2016 Chevrolet Volt with a theatrical tie in to the Disney movie “Tomorrowland”:

Many New 2015 Chevrolet Volt Deals Were To Be Had In May

Many New 2015 Chevrolet Volt Deals Were To Be Had In May

Despite some fairly wild (or even irresponsible) media reporting this month that GM has far too many current gen Volts in stock, given the 2016 car’s staggered rollout, each one of the 5,800-odd remaining cars in inventory will be needed to bridge the gap; which could be anywhere from 5 to 7 months depending on the end consumer.

If anything, there isn’t near enough 2015 Volts today, and many locations will find themselves long out of stock by the time the 2016s arrive.

Separately, the Cadillac ELR continued to sell “OK” with 116 moved, while the Chevrolet Spark EV – down to just under 400 copies in inventory to start May, managed to sell 283 of them.    We don’t see significant new inventory help arriving for the Spark EV until new production on the 2016 model arrives from South Korea – think October for that.

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73 Comments on "Chevrolet Volt Sales Surge In US For May"

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Nice sales figure for May, and as Jay notes, this could mean a Volt sales famine in late summer due to limited inventory.

Building on kdawg’s comment below, any such famine due to low inventory will undoubtedly be spun in a different light by mainstream media outlets like Fox News: “Gen 2 Volt set to fail? Current Volt Sales Reach new Lows”


Fast forward 3 months and I’m almost certain we will see such articles being published. *sigh*

More proof… as if anyone actually needed it that Fox news is not really a news organization. It is an ugly, ignorant mouthpiece of the corporate right. It has little to no credibility to anyone but 60+year old men who for some reason love it’s comforting soft bigotry and denial of reality. The parent company has also destroyed the credibility of the formerly venerable Wall Street Journal. So trust none of what they say unless you can see it yourself. And if you can see it yourself… why bother with their reports anyway. [end rant]

Jeff I come here to learn about EV’s not especially for your political opinions. There are many sides and I would recommend listening to all of them. Every organization has an agenda and bends the facts to fit their needs. Your job is to think.

Well said, Cleaner. What amazes me is that someone would go off on a tirad like that when someone makes a comment about what Fox News MIGHT say.

Cleaner, PERFECT, thanks for saying that. Well said.

I was thinking the same thing Cleaner.

Can we please stop all the talk of conspiracy and ideology and just talk about EVs? Fox is certainly no worse than MSNBC or CNN for politicizing the news. They are merely different sides of the same coin.

Bret — I don’t think you’ve actually seen Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC coverage of EV’s at all if you are trying to claim that their reporting is in any way equivalent.

You should go back the last decade and look at the worst propaganda about EV’s and then come back and let us know who reported the most propaganda. Here is a hint: It ain’t even close to being “Balanced”.

Bret said:

“Fox is certainly no worse than MSNBC or CNN for politicizing the news.”

This is factually incorrect. Wildly factually incorrect. CNN mostly tries to report the news in a neutral manner. MSNBC has actual news shows in the mid-day, and also has news commentary shows during morning and evening. They know the difference, and keep the two distinct.

Contrariwise, Faux “News” makes no distinction at all between partisan political commentary and what it pretends is news… the majority of which is counter-factual, to put it politely. It has little relation to reality.

Factually incorrect, huh? Okay, what “facts” do you have to back up your allegation that CNN is “mostly neutral”?

Hey, I’m one of those 60 yr old men! It’s been my experience that Fox is watched by mostly 80 yr olds, although I will sometimes watch for its comic value.

The beauty of being a libertarian is that you listen to both sides and formulate your own opinions I have found that Fox is often telling the truth and MSNBC is the one that is omitting facts and visa versa. I have found that people that follow the party lines are usually letting someone else do their thinking for them. I once had a friend tell me how much he hates Orielly. I ask him if he ever watched his show and to my suprise he never did. I drive an electric car and am a Libertarian…go figure. We should let any political persuation drive electric. By the way my Fox watching father drives a Leaf.

I guess that you don’t recognize that you are also following a party line. The Libertarian party line.

Bashing everybody else doesn’t mean you are correct.

Jeff, I see MSNBC spin/lie about news every day. I don’t post about it because I expect the majority of the news channels to spin the situation to the left. I am glad that a news program subjects you to the same irritation I encounter every day when I watch MSNBC, ABC or CNN.
Your revulsion for Fox is nothing compared to mine for the legacy media. I don’t like Fox, but what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Ziv said:

“…I expect the majority of the news channels to spin the situation to the left.”

To quote Stephen Colbert:

“Reality has a well known liberal bias.”

Lens, it is kind of amusing that you are quoting a liberal member of the media bashing the right and you think that a comedian actually has a point when he is in fact just attacking his opponents.
And in point of fact, the facts are that the liberals in the legacy media skew articles and programs to speak positively about the left sides view much more often than they speak positively about the conservative side of a discussion.
So we have Fox bending the truth to the right, and then we have CNBC, CBS (Fake but accurate!), MSNBC and CNN bending it to the left. And people wonder why Fox is #1. It is because it is the only game in town for conservatives and the leftys get to pick different flavors of kool aid.
Everyone exhibits confirmation bias to one degree or another, but with the majority of the media leaning left, it is harder for libs to recognize it when they are practicing it.

As with any commercial TV programming, the goal is to make money by selling ads, and to do this they need to get people to watch and will pander to viewers in any way they can. The only other requirement is to not offend advertisers. Sometimes networks get paid not to provide news. Case it point, I often see commercials sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute that tells us how wonderful and safe fracking for natural gas and oil is for us and our economy. I suspect that this is why you rarely hear reporting on one of the most important events in human history. The fact that by burning fossil fuels we have radically changed the basic chemistry of our atmosphere and oceans with devastating consequences an much more to come.

Good Volt sales for the USA but very low sales for the rest of the world.

I kinda laugh at all the people that looked at the inventory and the low sales figures in the first quarter and claimed “GM has enough stock for 3 years” or whatever. All it takes is some discounting/deals to move inventory.

Yeah, unfortunately people love to contort data to fit their own biased views. Not the first time, and won’t be the last time. 🙁

Do you 2 actually realize what you’ve written?

You are basing your conclusion based on 1 month of sales spike.

1 month.

That’s versus the relative flat of sub 1000 sales for the past 4 months.

4 months

For someone who likes using statistics and graphs, yet making such a comment – that’s unbelievable.

More importantly, this sales number actually proves a point that I’ve made many times (with you guys keep saying the opposite) – the price point for the NEXT VOLT is too high, and its sales number will be around 1000 unit, or even below that, when selling without any incentive from GM like those now.

This Volt prices drop (most likely, leases) to a comparative level of the other compact vehicles like Corolla and Civic, and results sales number increases. I’m sure that GM will like to sell the Volt at this $ figure for the rest of its inventory, as well as its next iteration.

Do you realize you’ve contradicted yourself? First you say this is only for 1 month. Then you say it’s due to a price drop which GM will continue to sell at in the upcoming months.

So logically wouldn’t sales stay higher if the price stays lower? And GM may even sweeten the deal more as fall approaches.

The assumption there (for you) is that the sales incentives will continue (and may even be better incentives). However, that’s not what I was pointing to in your statement.

I’m specifically pointing this:

“I kinda laugh at all the people that looked at the inventory and the low sales figures in the first quarter.”

What’s so funny about that? In fact, the joke is on GM, and I’ve stated the reason in my previous comment.

Without the introduction of an additional factor (incentives), which was NOT available in the previous 3 quarters, the analysis was actually correct regarding the need for an extended period of time to rid of inventory.

“GM will continue to sell at in the upcoming months”

If you are quoting me, I meant to be sarcastic there.

Of course I don’t mean incentives for the long haul. My point was that GM probably doesn’t want to keep selling the vehicles with such generous incentives, now or in the future.

Everyone knew there would be incentives at the end of the Gen1 cycle. This is common in the industry. Why are you surprised it’s doing exactly as it was designed to do, and clear out the inventory in time for Gen2?

You seem to be dodging my point/question there…

Why are those people, who based their analysis over at least 3 months (not to forget the decreasing trend over 2+ years), laughable, when you, with supporting data of just 1 month, mix in with different condition (incentives), are the holy one?

More specifically, of ALL the reports I have read, they were basing their analyses on a vehicle. Even if they laughed, they were laughing at a vehicle, or a corporation. I didn’t see your name appeared anywhere in their analyses, so why are you taking their analyses so personally? If anything, they were actually right, not just their analyses, but their inference that GM will have a tough time trying to sell the Volt, with no incentive. So, why is it laughable when they were still correct in their point of view so far?

kdawg has been around since the beginning of Volt days… it’s not 1 month of sales that singularly determines his assumptions. It’s all of us that’ve been around forever that understand the ebb and flow and OVERALL trend. We’ve been thru incentives a bunch of times before.. we’ve been thru 3 springs of LOW sales and we’ve seen how other marks do and don’t affect sales.
My own assumption is similar to those other seasoned experts on here (I’m no expert), I forecast STRONG SALES thru the summer, and then severely lagging inventory going into the end of the year. Heck most of us know the 2015 Volt has advantages over the 2016.. and with these prices… we know the value proposition will be just too good.

see below

Londo — Let me explain part of retail sales that is generally poorly understood by the general public. When you go into a store and see a product listed at MSRP, the manufacturer NEVER anticipate that they will sell all of that product at MSRP. Before they decided upon the MSRP list price, they projected how many units they would sell at MSRP, 10% off MSRP, 25% off MSRP, 50% off MSRP, etc. Then they reverse engineered the MSRP to make them a profit when ALL sale prices are taken into consideration. It is just like airlines, where every single seat in the plane might get sold for a different price. They plan for this ahead of time. The same goes for car sales. GM absolutely, positively knows they will sell some units with factory discounts, and some without. That is already baked into the MSRP number before they even build the first unit. This is actually planned at much, much larger time scales than you might imagine. Car makers plan their profits around much larger units. For example, GM plans profitability across an entire generation for a model. For example, the 2nd Generation GM Silverado/Sierra full size truck was… Read more »

Oh I understand how it works all right, but in this case, this business model breaks down completely.

Prior to May, abot 3000 Volts sold. This means that gm will need to sell the rest 6000 units at a signifcant discount, most likely at a loss to each unit.

How does that translate to a good gasp on inventory?

“Do you 2 actually realize what you’ve written? You are basing your conclusion based on 1 month of sales spike.”

It is ironic that you criticize what I’ve written and then infer something that I was never implying (which, by your argument, appears to be sales volumes?)

From what I’ve written, cite where I’ve based my conclusion on 1 month of data! 🙂

My “conclusion” was involving how people contort data; specifically, in the instance kdawg was referencing, looking at small sets of monthly sales figures to extrapolate a “years of inventory” metric.

The reality is that this kind of statistic is meaningless in an emerging market such as EV’s, whether it is the Volt, ELR, Leaf, or Model S. And trying to use such a metric to proclaim the Volt is a failure, is just another attempt in a long string of attempts to declare such a conclusion.

Volt and Leaf are the two best selling plug-ins nationwide. If either of them are failures, the whole market might as well go away. But any sensible person knows that you can’t extrapolate a product’s success or failure in an emerging market given such little data thus far.

“unfortunately people love to contort data to fit their own biased views” This is what you’ve written, in support of kdawg’s comment, “I kinda laugh at all the people that looked at the inventory and the low sales figures in the first quarter” That’s my assumption there. That’s how I infer that you are basing your comment with 1 month of sales data, instead of looking at the numbers from the past 4 months, because that’s what kdawg did. The data collected for the past 4+ years is NOT meaningless, otherwise, this site won’t be using it. I also stated that you are in opposite view of mine regarding Volt’s price point (over $33K) and your next comment, again, is in opposite of mine. That’s fine. We live in a world of many views. My “support” are from the discount sales of many EVs – LEAFs, Spark, Fiat, BMW, Smart, etc. When those vehicles have dropped their prices to a level comparative to vehicles similar to their own class size, sales increase significantly. Those other issues (most) that you’ve stated are actually counterproductive in terms of vehicles sales, because, other than driving tests, there are no other official lessons one… Read more »

That’s fair, and differing views are fine. My point was only that years of inventory metrics are meaningless here, and anyone referencing them to declare a dismal outlook with any PHEV is cherry picking to support their predisposed conclusion.

You’re right that a lower price will generate more sales, but that doesn’t mean it is necessary, or appropriate to do so. Free gasoline will result in more gas sales, but obviously there is a market for gas that is not free.

Given that 5-year TCO is in favor of the Volt at its current price point, a slight decrease in price and an increase in range will only make it more valuable over the duration of ownership.

Based on that, I feel it is appropriately priced, even if lower prices would translate to more sales. I think better education and time will do much better for EV’s in the long run than lower prices. Profitability through proper education and data mining will be maximized, and profitability is ultimately what will help to ensure EV’s succeed.

“Imagine, just imagine, what people will think when they see your list of “things to do” when buying a plug-ins.”

I bet people used to say that when switching from horses too.

Educating the public is different than requiring them to go through some huge check list when purchasing. A consumer base that is more aware of and comfortable with this new plug-in movement will translate to more purchases in the long term.

ClarksonCote said:

“Volt and Leaf are the two best selling plug-ins nationwide. If either of them are failures, the whole market might as well go away.”

Aren’t you doing the same thing here that you’re complaining about others doing? Focusing too much on a limited number of data points, and ignoring the rest?

The Volt and the Leaf are not the entirety of the PEV market. Apparently you haven’t noticed that the #1 PEV seller in North America so far this year… is the Tesla Model S.

Thank you!!!

I rest my case.

No Lensman, my comment about failures was said with sarcasm. I obviously don’t think that, but my point was if someone wants to declare a car a failure that is in one of the top EV sales positions, it seems difficult for them to simultaneously declare another EV a success.

As to the price point information, you can’t extrapolate that well either. You have many things at play right now in the plug-in marketplace:
– Lack of understanding of technology
– Lack of understanding of “electric range” versus “extended range”
– Lack of understanding of personal driving habits
– Battery size
– Federal tax credits
– State tax credits/incentives
– Influx/Introductions of new plug-in offerings
– Market penetration (still negligible)
– Price

So yes, I will doubt any conclusions that definitively state price is too high and that’s why sales are falling, because there are far more variables as shown above.

The fact that mainstream media seems to have keyed in on a price reduction despite an increase in all-electric range (with respect to the Gen 2 Volt) is likely a positive sign that consumers will be more willing to look into a Gen 2 Volt as a new vehicle. Hopefully, it also means the same will hold for PHEV’s in general in the coming years.

You can’t know it’s a “one month sales spike” after only one month, right?

Sales of the Volt and most other EVs typically accelerate in the summer months. So the pattern continues. I like statistics and graphs myself, and it looks like supplies of Gen 1 volts will be limited by the time Gen 2 is available.

The point kdawg and Clarkson were making is that we’re not likely to hear about limited supplies from mainstream media.

I guess I wasn’t clear enough.

I’m actually NOT saying anything about future Volt sales, with the incentives included (or not).

I’m criticizing them for the statements they have made, regarding how people were wrong using numbers for the previous 4 months (or even longer), and that those people have contorted views and biased toward GM.

What they have done is that, with 1 month of sales data (increase), due to a new condition (incentives), they made statements that, I guess, unbiased, not contorted, and not laughable.

By their logic, I guess that the moon must not be a sphere, because the moon looks like a crescent sometimes during the year. All those who stated the moon is a sphere has to be wrong.

The people (that I was talking about) took the worse 3 months of Volt sales, averaged them, and then divided the built up inventory GM created for the Gen1 Volt because the line was shutting down and concluded that there would be enough inventory for 3 years. That was silly. Especially since everyone knew there would be incentives. The Gen2 which is better in every way, has a lower MSRP, so you know they have to put cash on the hood for Gen1. What’s so hard about this to grasp?

“The people (that I was talking about) took the worse 3 months of Volt sales, averaged them, and then divided the built up inventory GM created for the Gen1 Volt because the line was shutting down and concluded that there would be enough inventory for 3 years.”

Exactly, and that’s the point I was keying in on too kdawg.

It’s amusing and ironic to be accused of something stating, ‘How can you write…” and then follow that with something that I didn’t write. 😉

Pardon, but the Gen. 2 is not better in every way.

Is there an objective (as opposed to subjective, like looks) item that the Gen 2 does not match or improve upon the Gen 2?

Matching specs is, by definition, not better. It was my understanding that the 2016 Volt has the same charger as the 2011-2015, so that’s one thing.

…I’m just grasping at straws here, but I’m sure there’s SOME objective measure by which the 2016 Volt is no better than the 2015 Volt…

I don’t think his statement was literally because some metrics are the same, that would seem obvious.

I assume he has examples where the Volt has taken a step backwards in a given area or offering, and that is what I was curious about hearing more details on.

Gen2 charges at 3.6kW whereas Gen1 is at 3.3kW. This is because of the slightly larger kWh usage for a full charge and GM wanting to keep the same charge times on 240V.

This is a tangent, but I wonder if the Gen 2 Volt will indicate 20A to Level 2 chargers instead of 15A? Even if they only use 15A at 240V, there are benefits…

By doing so, they can utilize 3.6kW charging even on stations with voltages lower than 240V. I recently observed that the Leaf does this, whereas the Gen 1 Volt only accepts 15A, which is not 3.6kW at lower voltages like 208V that is prevalent in commerical locations.

@Kdawg – I stand corrected.

Now certainly I can find SOMETHING that makes the original statement literally correct. Maybe they use the same tires? 😉

@Cote –
I agree. I was attempting to show how meaningless his statement was.

We’ve been through this many times. It has a lower top speed. It uses regular gas and it remains to be seen what the fuel maintenance cycle is as a result. It has less powerful el. motors requiring a more complex transmission, which also has a chain drive (welcome to the 19th century and jerky rides). It has cheaper sideview mirrors without turn signals. It has less shoulder and legroom in the back seats. No perforated leather seats. No two tone paint. Still no sunroof. It still has a torsion beam suspension in the back instead of multi-link fully independent setup. Then there are the looks. Regardless of your subjective preference it is more pedestrian looking and more inline with the rest of the Chevy models. That would result in further comparisons with the Cruze and exacerbate the price difference. Should we even touch OnStar and telematics, even with a 10 ft pole? Most puzzling the 2016 ELR will keep the Gen 1 4ET50 albeit with an improved performance. From my perspective that’s great, it shows the evolutionary capability of the first gen drivetrain, but it begs quite a few questions as to why and what will be the effect.

kdawg — Yes, GM has now proven that they can control their overall sales numbers for the 2015 Volt simply by adjusting their sales incentives.

They now are really in no risk of running out of cars or having too many cars. Like intelligent business people, they can simply adjust their incentives each month to control their inventory.

This is indeed nothing new to the automotive industry. GM and every other company have decades of experience controlling their model-year-end supplies through summer incentives as their new model year cars come out in the fall.

What GM did last month was no mistake, and nothing new. It is just typical model-year switch-over sales techniques that every car company uses to control their “days on lot” numbers.

There will likely be no excess 2015 Volts remaining when the rollout to 2016’s completes in the Spring of 2016. And there will likely be no national shortage of 2015 Volts either.

Well instead of saying that it isn’t selling, the new spin will be “GM has to steeply discount the Volt because it isn’t selling!”

You can’t win with some.

kdawg said: “I kinda laugh at all the people that looked at the inventory and the low sales figures in the first quarter and claimed “GM has enough stock for 3 years” or whatever. All it takes is some discounting/deals to move inventory.” But why would GM continue months of what appears to be full production on a car which it had to know would have falling sales; a car which, according to reports, is at best a break-even model for GM, or possibly even loses them a bit of money on each unit? I realize there is some value in keeping a production line running, so they don’t have the disruption of shutting down a line and laying off workers, then having to re-hire them later (and train some new ones). But it seems odd to me that GM couldn’t have switched the line to producing a car that makes them a higher profit margin, until the Volt 2.0 was ready for production. As it is, GM will have to give significant discounts on a car that already isn’t making them money. I don’t know enough about business and finances to state as a fact this was bad leadership… Read more »

“As it is, GM will have to give significant discounts on a car that already isn’t making them money.”

Selling at a loss, another rumor that seems hard to kill. That is not the case, there is incremental profit on each one sold.

Assuming sales hover around this month’s mark, gen 1 Volts will be scarce indeed come September.

I’m curious how many Spark EVs were moved this month. GM didn’t break down Spark gas/EV sales in their press release.

Dropped to 283, from 920.

That makes sense. They ran a great promo deal that lots of folks jumped on. Then when GM hit their target numbers, they ended the promotion.

More proof that GM has strong control over their sales/inventory through strategic discounting.

People love a sale.

Exactly. Especially the “Price-Point Buyers” that GM is very used to selling to.

any word on Leaf sales? I wonder if they are also rebounding, now that all of the details of the Volt gen2 are out?

Looks like Texas won’t see a new Volt until Xmas at best.

It also looks like Texas will loose the state incentive in the next 3 weeks. The legislature session ended yesterday with no extension, even though there is still more than $4m in the pot. The Tesla bill also died earlier.

Do you know if the remaining $4M in Texas incentive money will be allowed to be depleted, or instead just be cut off in three weeks?

The good thing about the roll-out is that GM’s largest market for the Volt (California) will get the 2016’s first. So if they do start running out of cars, their largest market will get them first, and their largest market won’t get starved.

Although California has another entire issue. Cali Chevy dealers need Volts with a special emissions package for California, so they can’t just get Volts from dealers in surrounding states that might have excess inventory.

One thing that also finally loosened up sales is that they finally announced prices for the 2016. Without that key bit of information, people thinking about buying a 2015 didn’t know if they were going to get “Apple’ed” with a huge price cut for the 2016 Volt right after they bought a 2015.

Knowing how much the new prices will be, buyers could make a better educated buying decision.

I’m worried this roll-out will be too slow, though I suppose that is only a short term problem.

Wonder if there will be people looking for a loaded Volt and ending up with a new ELR instead.

Indeed, it will be interesting to see how this may play out.

There have to be a few Volt 2’s, in the wild soon. Eyes pealed.

I like the look of the Volt 2.0 styling much better than the first generation. The fifth seat, improved range and better mileage should help as well. I hope they sell a lot of them.

All this talk about sales volume is pretty funny. Go to the web site good car bad car and look at the sales of most luxury imports. Look at the individual model sales and compare it to the Volt sales. Of course their profit margin is much greater on those cars otherwise they would not be able to survive. By the way the cheaper BMWs have less equipment than you may think. Just because it says BMW on the name plate doesn’t mean it is a loaded car. So for a car like a Volt for the price it is an amazing deal. The old inventory will be sold, even if it takes awile to do it. By the way who watches the news anymore? NPR is the way to go. PBS on TV.