Next Generation Chevrolet Volt To Reverse Trend Of Decreasing Sales

JAN 7 2016 BY MARK KANE 36

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt Sold Well In The 11 States It Was Available In For December

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Despite a slow roll out of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, the next-generation model already brings signs of sales recovery – to at least levels from better times when the Volt sold in higher volume.

The 2,114 Volts delivered in December was the best result in 2015, and marked the third month in a row with growth compared to one year earlier – this despite a regional rollout for the 2016 model that is not (and never will be) deep in stock before the 2017 edition arrives in ~April (with production beginning in February).

The Volt badly needed some changes as sales had been sliding since 2012, for three consecutive years, to just 15,393 in 2015.

We would be willing to bet that the year 2016 could be the best ever for Chevrolet Volt sales with 30,000 units as a best-case scenario; all depending on GM’s desire to quickly fill the fairly high demand for the 53 mile extended range car from the American public.

We figure the Volt should have no trouble returning to over 1% share among all Chevrolet vehicle sales (including trucks/SUVs) by the late Spring of 2016.

Chevrolet Volt sales in U.S. – December 2015

Chevrolet Volt sales in U.S. – December 2015

With 88,750 units sold cumulatively, the Volt is the second most popular plug-in electric car in U.S., and third best in 2015 (after Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF).

The difference between the Volt and the LEAF is thin on the all-time ranking, so the Volt could quickly be #1 cumulatively next year depending on how Volt/LEAF sales program progress; we still have yet to also see more than 800 or so long range (30 kWh) LEAFs hit dealer lots, especially in California – so the Nissan may not want to surrender the crown easily.

Chevrolet Volt sales in U.S. – December 2015

Chevrolet Volt sales in U.S. – December 2015

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36 Comments on "Next Generation Chevrolet Volt To Reverse Trend Of Decreasing Sales"

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I suspect it will. If you think about it, GM has redefined and raised the bar for both PHEVs and BEVs. Mainly because of the range but also because of the packaging and dedicated platforms.

The typical hybrid buyer doesn’t really care about range. Otherwise, all the other very short AER hybrids wouldn’t sell such well.

10,000 miles a year works out to only 27 miles a day. If there were at least one road trip in that mileage, the actual annual mileage would be far less. You don’t need that much range to become a practical everyday electric car.

True, but how many PHEVs can do 27 miles per day, especially during winter? Not many. As for BEVs.. well, I can speak from experience the 80-ish miles of the Leaf is fine for commuting but can be problematic on weekends when the needs go beyond daily commuting. GM has both situations covered with their new Volt and new Bolt. Both have class-leading range.

Good point Dan. 10,000 miles in EV mode saves the same amount of gas as the typical Leaf each year. Because the typical Leaf goes about 10K miles per year too.

More certainly is better, but 20-something miles of range is a pretty good starting point for 1st gen PHEV’s.

I don’t think that’s true.
There simply isn’t much choice if you want decent range.

Volt is a small compact.
Want 5 seats?: BEV or limited range PHEV.
Want more space?: BEV or limited range PHEV.

Counter-Strike Cat said:

“The typical hybrid buyer doesn’t really care about range. Otherwise, all the other very short AER hybrids wouldn’t sell such well.”

Or maybe it’s just that there is only one PHEV with even halfway decent electric range, and only one PHEV with the ability to function equally well as an EV or a gasmobile: The Volt.

No one car fits all lifestyles, and anybody who wants a larger car is going to look elsewhere, even if it means settling for a PHEV with an wholly inadequate electric range and a battery pack too small to make it fully functional in EV mode.

And maybe part of it is not so much that new car buyers don’t care, as they are not adequately educated on how much better the Volt performs than any other PHEV.

Actually mileage does matter to the rest of us. I drive 75 miles roundtrip to work each day, so that wouldn’t be a problem. But, if my family wants to visit relatives in WI, then our 425 mile one-way roadtrip will determine if we EVER buy an EV. Probably won’t happen in my lifetime.

Tesla Model S will easily do your road trip today. Recently seen used as low as $43k at Tesla’s Certified Pre-Owned site.

Don’t forget that GM hit the trifecta: Volt 2.0, Bolt, and Malibu Hybrid.

The Malibu Hybrid with with Voltech drivetrain and small battery sans plug will get 47 mpg combined (48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway). With low gas prices, and a humpless and cavernous back seat that comfortably fits three full-sized adults, I fear that the Malibu Hybrid will cannibalize sales from the Volt.

Likewise, the Bolt will also cannibalize sales from the Volt for those who want to unshackle themselves from the bondage of an ICE range extender.

I forgot to mention, that the Malibu Hybrid has a starting price of only $28,645.

I know that I was reluctantly beginning to consider buying a used 2013 Volt when my Volts lease ends in June. And now, seeing the back seat of the Bolt and the hints that it might have more than 200 miles of AER…
I am thinking I might want a Bolt instead.
I really need to drive one, first, though. Winters in Northern Virginia are fairly short so the winter hit on AER will be limited. But the Bolt just looks like a fun car to drive, and it is way quicker than a Volt, which is something I miss. 6’something 0-60 in the Bolt instead of 8’something everyone but Motor Trend is getting out of the Gen II. (What is it with MT, is it the roll out or do they cheat? 7.1 second is more than a second faster than everyone else.)

Does anyone know how all the major competitors (Tesla, GM, Nissan) cumulative sales compare to the 200K corporate limit to be eligible for the $7500 Fed tax credit? It would be interesting to project when that might run out for each (and yes, I am seriously considering a Bolt)

GM is closing in on 100k now (95,403), Nissan not too far behind (89,591).

They will both get inside the “danger zone” likely in late 2017 (within ~25k), with the start of the phase-out likely in Q3 2018 (if sales expectations follow through)

…so you have some time.

We will say, our expectation is that once GM gets close to the cap (~25k), our expectation is for the credit to be re-written…back in an industry wide credit with a hard sunset/phase-out.

Jay, I sure hope you’re right about the hard sunset/phase-out rewrite at that time.

Otherwise, all the technological laggards benefit from their foot-dragging. 😉

Not to take this too far down a political path, but I think it unrealistic to expect proactivity out of this nation’s Congress. They just attempted the 62nd rejection of Obamacare and already know they will get vetoed…but they just want to ‘send a message’. There are many messages they could have sent, like being proactive to fix our nation’s crumbling infrastructure…but they had to make a point. Unless the next election undoes the GOP majority, I wouldn’t expect anything other than the status quo- of accomplishing nothing.

My car buying decisions are placed around that 200K limit staying put. Our Congress has no resolve to fix anything, let alone tackling something it thinks that the left wing is desirous of.

I agree that this Congress will most likely NOT act to change this, but as we saw with the extension of wind and solar tax credits that some things can still be accomplished when there is a must-pass bill.

This is not the preferred way of legislation, which involves committee hearings, expert testimony and public input before going to the entire chamber for a vote.

I fear a newly elected GOP government may cancel the incentive altogether in 2017 instead of revising it.

They did it in GA. They didn’t revise the generous alternative tax incentive to reduce it or phase it out. They just brought down the axe and then finished off the day by adding a $200 yearly extra registration fee for EVs. I’m surprised they didn’t require special “kick me” plates for EVs as well.

Thanks Jay. If I added it up right for US sales, Tesla is now at about 64500. When are you projecting Tesla will hit 200K?

Ouch, that is a question. We like to keep as neutral as possible…and that is a bit of a loaded question. To answer that would kinda put an editorial spin on our thoughts on the Model 3, and when we think it will hit the market, (= I will say, our majority consensus with the staff is that GM will hit ~175k first (I don’t think many others would argue that point either), with varying degrees of competition from Tesla and Nissan thereafter. Honestly though, and I know there is a lot of opinion on the credit, its expiry and phaseout…but it was basically written for GM and the Volt in the original 16kWh capacity and “first to 250,000” wording. It was altered to adjust for 200k and all the OEMs, but there is little to no chance it sunsets on GM and then punishes them (and the other EV pioneer OEMs)…those GM/Nissan/Ford auto lobbyists are in Washington for a reason, and they have already proved what they can do during GM’s gov’t funded quick rinse through C11 and with this federal credit. The only question in our minds really is – when GM closes in on 200k, will the… Read more »

how long before the Volt surpasses the leave on cumulative sales?

dang…. leave should say leaf… boo for typos

“A long”

Leaf is sold around the world.
Volt is essentially just sold in North America.

I was thinking US sales only. not worldwide.

ArkansasVolt said:

“I was thinking US sales only. not worldwide.”

My guess is that if the Leaf has not yet caught up with Volt sales in North America, it never will. We will see much more competition for the Leaf, from the Bolt, the Tesla Model ≡, and likely others.

Contrariwise, I don’t see any sign that any other PHEV can, like the Volt, function equally well as a gasmobile or an EV. All the other PHEVs have a battery pack too small for powering the car without help from the gas engine, and they all have an electric range too small for average daily driving. I don’t see any PHEV on the horizon that will challenge the supremacy of the Volt.

OTOH it may be that car buyers don’t care if their PHEV has to kick on the gas engine every time the push hard on the accelerator. The Volt may lose out on sales to PHEVs which are SUVs, CUVs and minivans, even if they have a relatively tiny electric range.

Bottom line: Yogi Berra was right when he said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” 😉

If I added them up right, Total US Volt sales through 12/31/2015 is 88424.
Total US Leaf sales through 12/31/2015 is 89572. So the Leaf is ahead on cumulative (considering US sales only) by about 1500 units.

Ok, I can’t subtract. The difference is 1148 units.

Shane, I think your numbers are right. I got the Volt 1148 behind the Leaf for US sales also. Given how dead sales tend to be in January and given the fact that CA has run out of HOV lane stickers, I am not sure that Jan and Feb are going to be great months. But the Gen II has already done surprisingly well in December so who knows.
But my guess is that the new, slightly longer range, Leaf is weak sauce, and the Volt will pass it in total sales by March.

all of the charts above are US sales only.

The question is, what will happen to Volt sales if California doesn’t hike the green sticker allocation again? Assuming we still account for ca. 40% of PEV sales, their running out as of Dec. 18th must have cost GM a fair amount of sales here last month, and certainly will going forward.

OTOH, the Volt is a car that can be someone’s sole car, gives you the option of choosing gas or electricity as prices fluctuate, and unlike BEVs will remain useful for the typical life of a car. Whether that’s enough to make average consumers want one given current gas prices I don’t know, but I suspect many would just opt for a new Malibu Hybrid instead.

OK, this is an example of something I’ve seen many times and don’t get. Why would people cross-shop cars from different car segments?

Volt is a 4-person (4.5 if you insist) compact, Malibu is a 5-person midsize sedan.

If someone needs the size of the larger car, the compact wouldn’t eb under consideration, would it?

I wonder if there will be Osboune effect at play with anticipation for Bolt eating into Volt sales. People who cares about electric range would wait for the Bolt, people who just want hybrid would get the Prius. Where does that leave the Volt? Maybe places without DCFC, but they seem to be coming in larger numbers.

There are alot of overlaps (people shopping Volt & Bolt), but there are some that would only look at one, and not the other. Bottom line IMHO is for manufacturers to cover all the bases and let consumers decide what works for them. I have a 2016 Volt (didn’t care for the 2011-2015 Volt), and may get a Bolt. I really like the Leaf, but an uncooled battery pack was too risky IMO for life in Phoenix. Thought about leasing one, but never quite got there.

What would Volt sales have been if GM had actually tried to sell the Volt by running commercials for it and by incentivizing salesmen to sell it?

Most car salesmen try to steer customers towards gas burners at the dealerships.

We will never know.

Considering the massive amount of political backlash they were getting at the time, keeping their heads low was probably the best strategy they had when the Volt was first coming out.

Anything they said in a major national ad campaign was just going to be thrown right back at them with chants of “gubbermint motors” and other ignorant talk along with it. They were smart to just let the car do the talking, and let owners share their stories. Owner feedback has been very powerful.