Chart Of The Day: The Chevrolet Volt's Long And Harsh Decline

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
chart of the day the chevrolet volt s long and harsh decline

The first three months of 2015 marked the lowest-volume quarter of U.S. Chevrolet Volt sales since the summer of 2011, when Volt production was just ramping up.

Volt volume in January of this year, more specifically, fell to the lowest level since August 2011. With only 542 sales in the first month of 2015, Volt sales were down 41%.

February sales then tumbled 43%. Most recently, March 2015 volume slid below 1000 units for the third time in three months, tumbling 57% to just 639 units, just the fourth time in 38 months that GM has sold fewer than 1000 Volts in the span of a month.

Are fuel prices to blame, or the fact that the next, improved Volt has already been revealed? Both may be contributing factors in the most recent months, but a straightforward drop in demand, from low to lower, is the more appropriate response. Volt volume was in decline long before the latest fuel price decline.

Volt sales peaked during the car’s second full year on the market, 2012, before beginning a steady decline that saw monthly volume decrease on a year-over-year basis in 18 of 25 months, including each of the last eight months. Initial expectations called for approximately 40,000 annual Volt sales in the United States. GM hasn’t yet come within 16,000 units of matching that goal.

One thing is certain: there are Volts to be had. The drop to only 1874 first-quarter sales in 2015 occurred despite the fact that GM had, according to Automotive News, a 56-day supply at the beginning of January, a 192-day supply at the start of February, and a 159-day supply when March began.

The Volt was America’s 67th-best-selling car in 2012 but fell to the 70th position in 2013, before falling to 78th in calendar year 2014. Through the first-quarter of 2015, the Volt is now America’s 99th-best-selling car.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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  • Clivesl Clivesl on Apr 20, 2015

    Ooh, TV Spot Open, interior of a darkened garage. A 2016 Chevy Volt sits with its charger obviously unplugged. The door opens and the lights come on, artfully displaying the Volt and a young couple with an obviously sick baby. Wife - OH no, I forgot to plug in the car after running to the store today. Cut to husband and wife inside of the luxuriously appointed Volt. Husband (pressing start) - Sweetie it doesn't matter, that's why we went with the Volt, it's more than electric. Narrator as the the family drives away into the night. "The All New 2016 Chevrolet Volt, it's more than Electric" I have also have one for 20 somethings and a road trip.

  • Mfennell Mfennell on Apr 20, 2015

    The simple answer is that GM is not interested in selling too many of the current Volts. Every "old" Volt sold is one fewer tax credit buyers are eligible for when the revamped 2016 model comes out. GM has hyped the next one plenty. The 2016 is supposedly better in every measurable way. 50 mile EV range, better fuel economy on cheaper gas, bigger, lighter, cheaper to buy, cheaper to manufacture. The drivetrain is 100lbs lighter (!). The battery has more capacity while being smaller, simpler (1/3 fewer cells), and 30lbs lighter. Outside the insular little world of Internet commentary, GM built a lot of good will with the Volt. I leased an early one and it was a great car. All my car nut friends agreed, much to their surprise.

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)