It all started when I saw the advertisement. It had hit the streets a full 24 hours before, and a moment of panic set in.As I perused the ad, in order to be ready for any incoming calls, I noticed the Volts. “Holy cow!” I thought (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). These are going to fly out the door! This is my very best chance to get another Volt. I can’t let this slip by!
My goofy friends and me, on my Camaro. circa 1975
Wait a moment: “Why on Earth do you need another Volt?,” you may ask. “You have two already!” you may chide. Well, it’s like this: I have a daughter who’s going to turn sixteen in April of 2015. She wants a Camaro or Mustang. I work at a Chevy dealership, so nix the Mustang. My first car was a Camaro, (a sweet 1967 Rally Sport) but I knew how irresponsible I had been with that car and I didn’t think I wanted my daughter to succumb to the same temptations. Also, I really didn’t want to get back into the gasoline game. I had been spoiled by our Volts. I wanted to raise my daughter to be gasoline-free.
The Volts in the ad were service loaners, so they had a few miles on them, I knew, but I had loaned one of them to a customer, who had purchased a Volt from me. I knew it had been driven by another Volt enthusiast. (now that I think of how I drive my Volt, that may not have been a plus…) Anyway, back to your question: Why?
Well, our first two Volts were leased, not purchased. We had set the leases up for 15,000 miles per year and I was going to go way over that. I had driven mine to Chicago and back, to attend the Chicago Auto Show, to Austin and back, for a battery technology conference, and to many evening engagements and eco-fairs to speak about the benefits of owning an electric vehicle. It appeared I was going to go over my mileage limit about six months before the end of the lease. My wife Bonnie was going a bit over as well, as she takes our daughter Zoe to lots of fencing competitions (swords & sabers, not picket & chain link).
To compound this, the new Volt design is to be shown to the world in January of 2016 at the North American International Auto Show. I plan to be there for the unveiling. I needed to be able to hold off, on acquiring my next Volt, until the redesign became available, which would presumably be later in 2015, after my miles would be costing me an arm and a leg.
Then I spotted the ad.
I literally ran into the Inventory Manager’s office, to make sure at least one of these Volts was still available. Fortunately, one was. I went back to my desk and kept switching hats between customer and salesperson. We haggled back and forth for a while. As a customer, I was tenacious about getting every incentive I was due. As a salesperson, I was tenacious about finding every incentive for my customer (as usual). In the end, we agreed to GM Employee Pricing plus another $1,500 in other incentives. It was quite a deal! We were…uh…I was quite pleased.
At the Saturday morning sales staff meeting, I let all the other salespeople know about the ad and that all the Volts were gone. I explained that we would probably get a lot of people coming in, only to find out there were no more Volts at that price and that they would probably be upset. When I mentioned I had gotten the last one, they all busted up, laughing. What’s up with that???
Lisa R. Buyah?
I have always recommended leasing the Volt, over buying, because the technology of EVs changes so rapidly. Who wants to be stuck with an antique? Lower payments and protection against obsolescence seemed like an obvious plus for leasing. Over the year I’ve been in the car business, I discovered two things:
- Leasing requires a better credit rating than buying.
- Government incentives got a lot better for Texans in 2014.
The credit requirements are not an issue, but my steering people toward leasing has resulted in some clients being disappointed when they discovered their credit was not strong enough for a lease. In the future, I’ll be able to explain the pros and cons of each approach, based on a more complete experience. Why? Because this time we bought our Volt!
In May of 2014, the State of Texas introduced a $2,500 rebate program for purchasers of plug-in vehicles. This rebate, added to the $7,500 income tax credit offered by the federal government meant a cool ten large would be coming to you-know-who. As we were preparing our last home for sale, we withdrew large sums from my IRA, to pay for much needed updates. I’m not 59 1/2 years old yet, so I knew I would get a 10% penalty for any funds withdrawn. During that same time, I had tried commission sales of pollution-free electricity, with Green Mountain Energy and moved into a new career of automobile sales at Classic Chevrolet. Either I wasn’t very good at convincing people in Texas that they should be concerned about pollution caused by power generation plants or Texans just weren’t interested. Either way, I was going to starve! I struggled at Green Mountain and needed funds from the IRA to survive. Although I have had some level of success in the car business, (including a month where I made more money than any single month in my life) the ramp-up to success was a bit slow at first. (More funds needed) The bottom line is that my tax bill this year was very heavy. It would be nice to reduce next year’s tax bill by at least enough amount to offset this year’s bill, like say…$10,000. Yeah, that seems like a good round number…
So we decided to buy, this time around.
The new Volt will keep miles off our leased Volts, while our daughter learns to drive. It also serves as a carrot to persuade her to excel in school (come on, scholarship…). At the same time, it will allow us to keep our leases to the end of their terms, by which time the new Volts should be plentiful and many other EVs recently announced will have made it to market. And of course, the cash incentives will come in handy…
I have had the good fortune to be loaned other plug-in vehicles to review, including the Cadillac ELR and the BMW i3 (review soon…I promise). I have driven a Tesla Roadster and I’ve been promised a Tesla Model S by an owner. We have a Nissan Leaf set up to review and, believe it to not, I’ve never done a video review of the Volt! Lots of reviews to do and lots of EVs to consider, before our leases end. I’ll admit I’ve been tempted by some of the ones I’ve driven and have yet to meet an EV I completely hate (although some are fugly, IMHO). So far, I haven’t found one with the combination of range, style, price and performance that exceeds my 2012 Volt. At this point, we’ll probably re-up with a couple second-generation Volts.
For all you manufacturers out there: Want to show me a better way? Loan me your vehicle for a week and let me put it through its paces. I’ll do a fair and balanced (unlike you-know-who) review / video and who knows? Maybe, the next time around, I’ll be crowing about your vehicle. Warning: You’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.
For now, we’re gambling on the Volt and we’ve got a full house.