Print 29 comment(s) - last by donxvi.. on Dec 6 at 7:51 AM

Strong demand for the Volt partly to blame for inventory issues

Chevrolet has been doing surprisingly well with sales of its Volt extended range electric vehicle. In fact, Chevrolet has repeatedly set sales records for the Volt this year. Back in August, Chevrolet set a single month sales record for the Volt and then beat that record again in October.

In November of this year, Chevrolet sold 1,519 Volt vehicles, which represented a 33% increase over November of 2011. However, the number of cars sold in November was roughly half the number Chevrolet sold in October and September when the company sold 2,961 and 2,851 Volts respectively.
Chevrolet says that the problem with sales declining isn't that demand for the vehicle is waning; it's that demand is too high. Part of the reason sales declined so much in November was due to low inventory that was felt particularly hard in California.

According to Don Johnson, Chevrolet VP of Sales and Service, the California market where GM sells 34% of all the Volts it produces recently had only an 8-day supply the vehicle. General Motors has been able to up production of the vehicle and currently has up to 23 days supply for California and about 60 days across the US. According to Johnson, that volume level is ideal.

General Motors has sold 20,828 Volts so far this year.

Another potential issue that could have contributed to low supply of the Volt was that the assembly plant where the Volt is produced was idled to retool for production of 2014 Chevrolet Impala. That plant idling combined with stronger-than-expected sales led to problems with inventory.

While General Motors struggles with supplies for its popular Volt, competitor Ford is doing very well with its new C-Max plug-in hybrid. Ford reports that it has sold 8,999 C-Max hybrids and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids in only two months. The most popular region for the car is Southern California according to Ford. 

Sources: Detroit News, General Motors, Ford

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2 things
By GulWestfale on 12/4/2012 1:55:43 PM , Rating: 2
1- wow, GM hired don johnson? is he partnered up with philip michael thomas? will future cars only come in pastel colors?

2- even this 33% increase is still far behind the (equally boring to me) prius. GM might say that this thing is doing well because that's their job, but measured by its competition in the eco-friendly market segment, it's a failure. and not just because it looks like an 80's sci-fi movie prop.

RE: 2 things
By GulWestfale on 12/4/2012 1:56:42 PM , Rating: 3
i mean, the fact that they stopped production to switch the line over for the new impala tells you that they knew this thing isn't selling.

RE: 2 things
By geddarkstorm on 12/4/2012 2:30:14 PM , Rating: 1
That's the most compelling piece of evidence, I agree. Business decisions speak louder than PR puff.

RE: 2 things
By Mint on 12/4/2012 6:18:32 PM , Rating: 5
It's doing better than the Prius Plug in. It's also ramping up in sales faster than the Prius did at it's introduction a decade ago. Two years after the Prius hit US soil, it was only selling 2k per month.

Hybrids as a whole are at 6% of car sales now, up from the 4% it was at last year. Their share is increasing faster than ever before. It's nonsense to write them off at this point.

RE: 2 things
By TSS on 12/5/2012 12:10:47 PM , Rating: 2
The prius was also the first hybrid, with no government incentives at first, while gas was a whole lot cheaper then it is now or has been since. But nevermind that.

Yay volt! 20,828 sold this year! That means GM made -$1 billion! woo!

....wait a minute. Is that a minus? Why, yes it is!

Good thing people have such a short term memory they forget GM said, long before the financial crisis, the volt was ment as a engineering first step into electric vehicles, which it does very well by the way.

Then the government steps in and suddenly, if anything GM fails, the government fails, so the volt has to be a sales "success". Which it now is, at any cost, which happens to be atleast a billion this year. Not counting ofcourse the money spent advertising the damn thing.

Except for the engineering part, the volt is an utter failure. By now, it was supposed to be dead and buried while we hailed it's successor as the best thing like sliced bread, yet i've not heard anything about a volt replacement. Once again cementing the fact the government has no vision forward (yet they will spend everything to preserve what they already have).

But hey! Each country gets the government it deserves, right?

RE: 2 things
By Mint on 12/5/2012 2:23:54 PM , Rating: 2
Read articles with a little more critical thought.

Last year the Volt lost $250k each. Then it was $50k loss. Most recently it was $30k loss per car. Do you know why? Look at the source article:
It currently costs GM "at least" $75,000 to build the Volt, including development costs

What kind of an "analyst" divides development costs only over current sales? By that ridiculous logic, the new Fusion is losing tens of thousands per vehicle as well. I can't believe this nonsense math keeps being rehashed.

Read this for a more reasonable estimation of the Volt's cost:

RE: 2 things
By spread on 12/4/2012 8:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
Or maybe that could be another GM quality business decision.

RE: 2 things
By Jeffk464 on 12/4/2012 2:59:52 PM , Rating: 2
I find the styling much more acceptable on the volt, I don't know if it gets past boring but its at least closer.

RE: 2 things
By Jeffk464 on 12/4/2012 3:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
I would feel most uncool driving a prius and I don't feel the same way about the volt at all.

RE: 2 things
By Samus on 12/5/2012 3:33:13 AM , Rating: 2

I'm seeing them more and more here in Chicago, and have never owned a GM product, but every time I see a Volt, the thought crosses my mind to plunk down on one for my next car.

You can spot their unique style alone a mile away and here in the city it makes more sense than any other personal transport.

Diesel is very hard to find and overpriced, hybrids have poor fuel economy on the highway (where their electric motors\batteries are dead weight) and any other regular car sitting in traffic is guzzling at idle. I ride a motorcycle as well but even then I'm lucky to get 50mpg.

The Volt is none of these things, and considering electricity is as low as $0.04/kwh here because we are mostly nuclear, it costs 40 cents to 'fill up' a Volt for your daily commute.

RE: 2 things
By tallcool1 on 12/5/2012 11:57:49 AM , Rating: 4
The new 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid looks better than either of them...

what people want
By talikarni on 12/4/2012 2:50:14 PM , Rating: 2
They fail to realize that a majority of people do not want hybrids, or even small econobox high mileage cars. This is why minivans, trucks and SUVs continue to lead the sales numbers.

RE: what people want
By Nutzo on 12/4/2012 4:32:26 PM , Rating: 3
It's not that people don't want hybrids, it's that they just don't make fiscal sense for most people.

Hybrids usually cost $4,000 to $7,000 more than a similarly equipped 4 cyl ice vehicle.

I you mainly drive highways, your mileage will not be much better with a hybrid. Same if you drive less that 7,000 a year, especially if you usually make short trips (2-3 miles), as it doesn’t give the hybrid time to warm up.
(on hybrids the engine initially runs until it has warmed up, one of the reasons the mileage drops during cold winter days.)

The main reason so many Volts are being sold in California is due to the car-pool lane stickers.

Buy a Volt (or other plugin), and you get to use the car pool lanes and bypass traffic. So, the wealthy executives who want to save time in traffic simply by a Volt for their work commute, and save the BMW for the weekends.

RE: what people want
By Norseman4 on 12/4/2012 7:44:29 PM , Rating: 2
If I wanted to access the HOV, car-pool and express lanes, I wouldn't get a Volt, I'd get a motorcycle. (All are open access to all motorcycles as long as any federal money went in to building it.)


Oh, wait, already have one.
(And some places, toll-roads are free for the 2 wheeled set.)

RE: what people want
By Dr of crap on 12/5/2012 8:14:04 AM , Rating: 1
It's that after over 20 years NO ONE want s a small car.
SUV, van, crossover, what ever the word that they want to use now, bigger car that fits 4 or more with room for grocery bags, THAT'S what people want.

The mpgs don't matter any longer after everyone has gotten comfortable with $4 gas.

And yes the cost of hybrids has to play into it, but not if your not even considering it in the first place!

RE: what people want
By Nutzo on 12/5/2012 11:10:18 AM , Rating: 2
Not all hybrids are small, Toyota has the Camry Hybrid for example.

However it still comes down to price. Due to my short work commute, at $4/gal gas it would take me over 9 year just to break even if I bought a Camry Hybrid over the standard 4cy ICE. Part of that is due to the higher price of the car, and part is due to the higher insurance costs.

If the payback was around 3 years, I'd probably buy one. But at 9+ years, it just doesn't make sense.

RE: what people want
By Shig on 12/5/2012 2:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Take a look at the new 2013 Ford Fusion hybrid, but the original poster probably never will. It's easy to bash a niche market.

RE: what people want
By donxvi on 12/6/2012 7:51:47 AM , Rating: 2
People want Camrys, Accords, Cruzes, Altimas, Escapes, Corollas & CR-Vs. That's 7 of the top 10 selling cars in the USA for Sept 2012 and they're all pretty efficient. The other three are, indeed, full size trucks.

Half truths and lack of info
By Dr of crap on 12/5/2012 8:27:03 AM , Rating: 2
"In fact, Chevrolet has repeatedly set sales records for the Volt this year. Back in August, Chevrolet set a single month sales record for the Volt and then beat that record again in October."

Yep the second year it been in production, and yes it's selling more, so
increase sales - yes
record sales - nope

"In November of this year, Chevrolet sold 1,519 Volt vehicles, which represented a 33% increase over November of 2011."

Means nothing. It was just starting out last year. Yea, your most likely going to vastly increase sales over last year. A kid could see that. Bad writing and or marketing spin.

"Chevrolet says that the problem with sales declining isn't that demand for the vehicle is waning; it's that demand is too high."

REALLY, or is it that they have some sales and there isn't a fast enough build time or enough inventory because - they didn't want to many sitting around not being sold or the production has slowed BECASUE of slow sales. See how you can spin this any way you want???

"Another potential issue that could have contributed to low supply of the Volt was that the assembly plant where the Volt is produced was idled..."

Don't mention the fact that you idled the production BECAUSE of slow sales!! Kind of an important point!

Yet another way to have a news blurb out there to keep the Volt name in the people way. It's classic marketing. Keep the name out there over and over again and hope for more sales! It is selling - some. They want more sales. Records sales it is not having, and comparing to the first few months when production was at a very low level just makes you look stupid.

RE: Half truths and lack of info
By Shig on 12/5/2012 2:22:29 PM , Rating: 3
There is a lot of factory idle drama.

I just want to point out the innovation Ford has done with their new Fusion. They have a modular factory and the ICE fusion, hybrid fusion, and plug-in hybrid fusion all share parts and are all put together in a similar fashion on the assembly line. So Ford will not have to idle the plant if the hybrid or plug-in hybrid aren't doing so well (gas goes down), they can simply switch to the ICE model and if gas goes up, etc etc. There will be a bit of down time, but nothing like what GM has to do.

GM basically has to guess the demand with the Volt factory, and that is a fail strategy. They either have too many or too few.

As I undertand it...
By mmatis on 12/5/2012 9:18:03 AM , Rating: 2
an overwhelming majority of Volt sales are to Federal agencies and State and Local governments, who are using government funds to prop up Government Motors version of the Edsel. But then that should not come as a surprise to anybody, unless you actually believe the rest of the numbers that the government has been putting out lately. Why, of course the economy is on a roll! Why would they lie to you?

RE: As I undertand it...
By Rukkian on 12/5/2012 12:34:28 PM , Rating: 2
I know for the initial sales, that you were correct, however everything I have seen is it is personal purchases pretty heavily in the last year. Do you have anything to back up your statement, as I would like to know.

sure it was
By DockScience on 12/5/2012 1:32:30 PM , Rating: 2
Let's see, 2 months of inventory gather dust on lots in 47 states and one state that needs cars it could sell can't get any.

And GM can't put those extra cars on trucks and trains bound for CA.

Sure, sales were down 50% because one state which only accounts for 1/3 of sales was short of cars.

No doubt. I believe it all.

RE: sure it was
By MichaelR on 12/5/2012 8:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
Although dealers can make trades amongst themselves, GM cannot just grab inventory from a dealer's lot and give it to another dealer.

Also, the California cars are built to a different emission standard.

By HoosierEngineer5 on 12/4/2012 1:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
... or did they plan to sell more this year than they planned to produce?

I Blame It On
By btc909 on 12/4/2012 4:02:47 PM , Rating: 1
It's ugly.
It's expensive.
It's a PITA to get into, especially the back seat.
It's a Cruze, not fooling anyone here.
Only seats 4.
It's a bailout company. Which will probably need another bailout.
Insurance costs can be expensive. Depends on carrier & discounts.

RE: I Blame It On
By spread on 12/4/2012 8:51:47 PM , Rating: 1
It's ugly.

It's prettier than that monstrosity the Prius.

It's expensive.

Depends on how you drive and what it's maintenance costs are. If you do plenty of stop and go or city driving or frequent driving closer to home the car will be cheap to run.

Don't be foolish and only look at the initial price of the car. That says nothing. What matters most is cost per year. How much is your TOTAL cost including everything.

It's a PITA to get into, especially the back seat.

Then slim down or something.

Only seats 4.

Most sedans this size seat 5. Not a huge difference.

It's a bailout company. Which will probably need another bailout.

Let's hope next time they are allowed to fail. In a free and just society public money wouldn't be used to prop up a failure of a company.

Channel Stuffing
By PontiusP on 12/4/2012 7:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
They'll need another bailout once this stuff becomes too large for the MSM to continue avoiding.

Lots of BS, As Usual ...
By Midnight Rambler on 12/5/2012 7:09:44 AM , Rating: 2
This article is, at max., about 10% true.

I mean, for starters, the assembly *was* idle ... in June ... for one month. Which is pretty much typical for every assembly plant still on the old, traditional model year calendar (ie. new model year beginning ~ August). ZERO impact on inventory. No 2012 Volt production had EVER been planned for June, it built out well before.

Where these people get their info is beyond me. Me, I got my info at work. At Hamtramck ...

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