General Motors announced today that it sold 2,831 cars in the month of August, obliterating July's 1,859 extended range cars moved off the lot. (Sales PDF here)
August's sales number is also a significant improvement over the Chevy's previous best result, set this past March, at 2,289 Volts to customers.
2013 Volt Sticker Reflects Changes
The month was helped by the early addition of the model year 2013 Volt, which sees an electric range increase of 3 miles, up to 38 miles total, and 4 more MPGe, up to 98. Also, a "Hold Mode" was added that allows drivers to choose when they would like to run the car off its 16.5 kWh battery.
However, most likely responsible for this dramatic surge was an aggressive dealer incentive program that sees high performing dealers get large credits against future inventory orders if they sold a specific number of Volts over the summer. Dealers had until September 4th to make their quota, and some dealerships were offering Chevrolet Volts for as much as $5,000 below MSRP at month's end.
August was truly an "outside the norm" month for General Motors, leading us to wonder what does September, and the rest of the year hold?
2013 Chevrolet Volt Interior
Outlook for 2012 and 2013 on Volt sales
No doubt, there will be a vacuum left by the absence of heavy discounting going forward, but Chevy still has a couple things going for it rounding out the year.
Next month's sales should be fairly decent, although still below August's level.
GM is likely experiencing not only their best week for Volt sales this first week of September, but quite likely, today is their best sales day ever, as it is also the last day for the dealer's to book sales to qualify for the incentive program. We imagine the first handful of days this month will see sales equal to the entire rest of the September, and because of that, this month will also be a success.
For the year end, December should be aided by the $7,500 federal tax credit, which forces would be seekers of the benefit to pull forward the decision to purchase into 2012, or face another full year of waiting for the next tax season.
Without a new discount program, the picture for October and November, and early 2013 may not be as rosy.
Aerial CG View Of LG Chemical's Holland, MI Plant
Also adversely affecting sales is some collateral damage from GM's decision to idle the Hamtramck facility that makes the Volt for a month starting September 17th, in order to "tool up" for the new Impala. GM has said they will still have inventories built up to fill the demand, but that doesn't help with customer orders, and we can help but think some fulfillment issues may still come up.
During the month of August GM did over-produce to demand by building 3,688 Volts (and 1,163 Amperas) in Hamtramck.
Also related to future demand, LG Chem has extended "rolling furloughs" indefinitely at their 600,000+ square foot facility in Holland, Michigan, as a "result of a re-timing of the start of battery cell production."
The plant was to have begun domestic production of battery cells this summer for the Volt, but the company now says they "will begin production when demand increases and will operate the plant on a full time schedule as soon as possible."
All thing considered, and with this month's impressive result logged, GM will mostly finish the year strong, perhaps doubling last year's 10,666 Volts sold. For 2013, we would look for a new discount/incentive plan early in the year, with a new, lower pricing structure announced by early to mid year.