Meanwhile, Nissan's electric Leaf is doing well

Chevrolet's Volt hasn't had a very strong start to the year, as sales of the plug-in hybrid are down for the third month in a row. 

General Motors (GM) said that Volt sales dropped 4.3 percent to 1,607 in May; fell 10.7 percent to 1,306 in April, and tumbled 35 percent in March (compared to 2012).

But Volt sales are up 1.4 percent (or about 100 vehicles) in the first five months of the year to 7,157 compared to the first five months of 2012. GM said Volt sales on a retail basis have been up month-over-month. 

On the other hand, the Volt's main rival -- Nissan's electric Leaf -- has had a better year so far. Leaf sales passed those of the Volt with a total of 7,614 for the first five months of the year. Nissan sold 2,138 Leafs alone in May -- a 300 percent increase over May 2012. 

A large reason for Nissan's success this year is its price drop. It slashed the entry-level price of the Leaf back in January 18 percent to $28,800. 

The rise in sales is likely a huge relief for Nissan, since 2012 wasn't too kind to the automaker. Nissan had to admit that it wasn’t going to hit its sales mark for 2012, which was 20,000 Leafs. Nissan only sold 9,819 Leafs for the whole year -- less than half of its goal, and only 1.5 percent higher than the number it sold in 2011.

Other electric vehicle makers are cutting prices as well, such as Honda (Fit EV lease dropped from $389 to $259 per month) and Ford (Focus EV lease dropped from $350 to $285 per month and base price was cut $2,000 to $37,995). 

However, there's no word on a drop in price for the Volt. 

“Right now, we’re going to keep an eye on the segment," said Don Johnson, vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet brand.

Last month, GM announced that it expected the next-generation Volt to be profitable and cost $10,000 less to build. 

"This car, on a technology scale, is off the charts vs. what you [have] seen," said GM CEO Dan Akerson. "We've sold about 26,500 of them [and] we're losing money on every one."

Source: The Detroit News

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