Chevrolet Volt In February 2012: Half Of Production Actually Sold

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

General Motors sold 1023 Chevrolet Volts in February of 2012, but production figures totaled 2,347 units. Uh oh.

As we all know, GM originally targeted 45,000 units sold in the United States this year. GM only sold 603 in January and just restarted product a few days ago – the discrepancy between production and sales has long been documented at TTAC, and even my second-grader math skills can figure out that sales of the Volt are a long way off from their initial targets.

Hardcore skeptics may roll their eyes at the inevitable retort of “bbbuut…bbbbutt…gas prices are going up!”. Volt apologists are far from the only people worried about this – analysts at UBS, in their excellent February sales report, noted that dealers are very worried about how the cost of a gallon of gas will impact sales, with pickups likely to take a big hit. Nobody buying a Silverado is going to switch to a Volt, but since we all know that perfectly rational behavior is non-existent, and people do dumb things when gas prices go up, the Volt may be in for a bit of a sales spike, right as West Texas Intermediate starts to hit $110 a barrel.

As much as some of the B&B would like, this isn’t another nail in the Volt’s coffin. I for one, am curious to see how the HOV lane approved Volts sold in California will fare – and if demand keeps up once the supply of HOV lane stickers themselves run out.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Doctor olds Doctor olds on Mar 02, 2012

    General Motors planned and produced 10,000 2011 Volts. This compares with Toyota Prius' first year production of 8,500. Chevrolet dealers have sold 9,623 of the 10,000 2011 Volts, or 96% of production, through roughly 15 months. They will sell every one for a first year volume of 10,000 units, exactly as planned. With 2,900 dealers spread across the US, even the 5,000 unit inventory reported here is less than two per store, and at these volumes, transit time is significant. Despite efforts to draw conclusions about Volt's market success, largely a function of political interest, the volumes are so tiny it is premature to attempt to do so. Volt was not planned to be a high volume or even a profit making vehicle. No doubt they would like to sell as many as possible. Its purpose has always been to establish GM Green credibility, demonstrate world leading technological innovation capability, and of most strategic importance, to take the first step in the electrification of vehicles. The architecture is compatible with GM's main stream offerings and offers flexibility for all sorts of alternative power sources. Volt already offers much lower cost than the highest mileage hybrid. Volt can travel 35 miles for $1.53. A Prius would consume $2.76 of $3.79/gallon gas to travel the same distance. I did an analysis of a 2011 Regal averaging 26mpg overall compared to Volt. Assumptions: 15,000 miles a year, at least 10,000 pure electric, with 5,000 miles in extended range mode at 37 mpg. Volt would save me $93/month compared to a 2011 Buick Regal. Makes that $349 lease look pretty appealing! the average mid size car owner $75-$100/month, making that $349

  • Luke42 Luke42 on Mar 02, 2012

    P.S. I want to thank TTAC for leaving the election politics alone for the most part for the last couple of days. The EV debate is a suitable and on-topic replacement.

  • Mike4703 Mike4703 on Mar 18, 2012

    Couple of points here: 1. Every single post that attempts to analyze the cost/benefit ratio of the Volt and then suggest a Prius or something else completely misses the point so stuff those figures back into whatever orifice you pulled them out of. If your goal is to get the cheapest transportation for the money-"bang for the buck"-then no one should buy any new car of any kind. There are so many used cars of all kinds out there, a careful selection of one of those will get you the biggest bang for the buck period. If buying new car, then there are a lot of factors that come into play, most of which are personal preferences, followed by financing options. 2. Comparing miles/gal between gas and electric is complicated and needs to consider the refill times also. A lot of people still don't do it right. When you try and do this calculation with the Volt it's more complicated and most people don't do it right. For starters the 35-40 mph gal figure for all gas operation (extended range mode) and yes those are the real numbers, doesn't make too much difference, but becomes more important obviously, the more gas miles you are driving, but Volt buyers are not buying them to run them on gas. It's not that important. A Prius uses gas at 50 mile/gal all the time if driven very conservatively, and sometimes gets worse. A Leaf gets 70miles all electric but then must charge. If you want to make a longer trip you need to have another car, except in the rare situation where there is a charge station at the destination and you can wait around for the recharge. The Volt will do all electric 100% to 80-90% of the time for nearly everyone. And for the occasional long trip, so what if you're getting 35-40mph after the battery is discharged? Your yearly gas use is going to be far less than a Prius and only a little more than a Leaf, without all the restrictions. So average mpg of Volt is going to be 100mpg or better. 3. The Volts little dirty secret is "sport mode." They don't advertise this because the Volt is targeted to the save energy market. The Volt is very quick in this mode for only a small range sacrifice. You will enjoy this much more than a Prius or Leaf. Once the driver in you is satisfied,you can go back to standard mode anytime. Also if you are coming to a short uphill freeway onramp, sport mode makes it easy and safe. Prius and Leaf maybe not so much. 4. The upcoming Prius PEHV does not compare to the Volt. It's top electric only speed is 62mph, it's electric range is only 15 miles. And that's on top of the other perfomance differences. For this you pay a premium of about $8,000. Save your pennies and get a Volt. 5. Another post already mentioned that the Volt battery is more conservatively cycled than the Leaf and other all electric cars. There should be no battery replacement issues and it's already 100% guaranteed for 8 years. 6. The premium gas issue. Premium is recommended because it is chemically more stable in the tank than regular. Considering how little you are usually going to use, not a big price issue. You may be able to use regular on that long trip because it won't be sitting around in the tank, but I'll have to research this further.