October 2015 Sales Numbers

In September 2015, the plug-in market was on a power dive, only one plug-in I track increased sales from the previous month (and that one was a doozy!!!):

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 31% (949 vs. 1,380)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 11% (1,247 vs. 1,394)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 37% (216 vs. 344)
  • Cadillac ELR: DOWN 20% (36 vs. 45)
  • BMW i3: UP 117% (1,720 vs. 792) ***HOLY COW! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?!?!?
  • BMW i8: DOWN 13% (182 vs. 210)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: **AWAITING FORD’S NUMBERS
  • Ford C-Max Energi: **AWAITING FORD’S NUMBERS

The price of gasoline started a precipitous drop in the first half of the month, and stayed down through the end of the month. The Chevy Volt’s sales ended a three month upswing and fell 31%. The Nissan Leaf experienced an 11% decrease, compared to the previous month. I’m still concerned about the widening gap between the original Prius’ adoption and the current sales performance of the Volt and Leaf.

The Plug-in Prius also showed a significant decrease in sales, falling to its lowest monthly sales volume EVER. In fact, August 2015 had been the worst month of sales for the Prius until September 2015, which showed a 37% decrease from the previous low water mark. This one is circling the drain…

The Cadillac ELR experienced its second-worst month in sales, only selling 36 units. Many Cadillac dealers are not handling these anymore. I’ve done searches for new ELRs, and there are very, very few, within a 250 mile radius around my location. The only lower month for ELR sales was the month it debuted, December 2013, when it sold only 6 units. Although I love the ELR, its price is way out of line.

The big news of the month was the BMW i3, which saw monthly sales spring up 117%, to a high water mark of 1,720 units sold! That’s 38% higher than 2nd place in September, which was the Leaf, at about half the i3’s price. The i8 dropped by only 11% from the previous month’s sales.September 2015 Sales Numbers


Sales, compared to the same month a year ago, are almost all down, and down a lot, with the exception being the two BMWs I track.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 32% (949 vs. 1,394)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 57% (1,247 vs. 2,881) **Last month, this was down 56%
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 39% (216 vs. 353)
  • Cadillac ELR: DOWN 68% (36 vs. 111))
  • BMW i3: UP 68% (1,720 vs. 1,022)
  • BMW i8: UP 214% (182 vs. 58) **Last month’s jump was due to it being compared to the very 1st month of i8 availability.
  • Ford Fusion Energi: ??????? (??? vs. 640)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: ??????? (??? vs. 677)

National Drive Electric Day 2015, Texas Style!

I was framed!

I was framed!

I’m sitting on my couch this Sunday, thinking about the great gathering of EVers (and the EV-curious) at the National Drive Electric Day 2015 event held at Grapevine Mills Mall. There was a lot for me to celebrate this year, from being awarded the General Motors Mark of Excellence in my first year of auto sales, getting to be at the unveiling of the redesigned Chevy Volt and all-new Bolt back in January, test-driving a Tesla Model S P85D, the change in Texas law that will now allow me to have solar panels installed on our home, and more.

Pamela starting 'em out young!

Pamela starting ’em out young!

But this is a high note that stands out. This year’s event was so much better than last year’s. We had the cooperation of charger companies, car dealerships, EV enthusiast organizations and government agencies. Instead of several separate events, this year we all pulled together to create and promote a unified event where people could come to celebrate OR learn about electric vehicles. And many did, including 116 EV owners and their vehicles…and this was on a rare rainy Texas day!

EV owners showed up in large numbers this year (116) and were there to tell anyone who would listen about their experience. I saw BMW i3’s and i8’s, Fisker Karmas, Chevy Volts, Tesla Model S’s and Roadsters, Nissan Leafs (Leaves???), Cadillac ELRs and even a Mitsubishi iMiEV! I even met a guy who is one of the first of the 45,000+ on the waiting list to buy an Elio (non-EV).

rainy day

Someone from out-of-town interested in EVs?

I saw at least eight of my Volt customers there and found it so gratifying that they were not only talking about their EVs, they were talking about their purchase and service experiences as well. I overheard several people specifically tell potential buyers that if someone was looking for a Volt, that they should come to Classic Chevrolet, due to our deep understanding of the car, on both the pre-sales and post-sales sides of the business. I heard our Service Advisor (and fellow Volt owner) Tim Foote praised highly by his clients. And yes, although seemingly self-serving here, I have to say I heard several say I was a great person from whom to get an EV. My dealership gave away several door prizes, including a weekend with a 2015 Chevy Volt, which was won by a guy named Christopher.

I heard horror stories as well. People who bought their EV on a used car lot, unassociated with a dealer who sells the new product, were told outright lies or were told, “I don’t know” way too many times One of these stories appears to be headed to litigation… This really brought my posts about all-too-often poor EV sales experiences and how to improve the EV sales experience home.

i8I saw Pedro Alicea, a fellow EV enthusiast, who sells at a BMW dealership and supplied this blog with an i3 to review and Nissan had dealership representation as well. Not all dealerships get it, but this year, it’s obvious which ones do. I also finally got to see the new eVgo Freedom charging stations at Grapevine Mills Mall. Hopefully, the next generation of EV buyers will have better experience, through the guidance of those of us who have blazed the trail.

I can’t wait for next year’s event!!!

National Drive Electric Week 2015

National Drive Electric WeekClassic Sign & NDEWIt’s that time of year again: National Drive Electric Week! #NDEW2015

To see what events are planned, check the national site here. As for the Dallas/Fort Worth area event, you can find information here. North Central Texas Council of Governments put their press release for the event here.

Of course, Classic Chevrolet is gearing up for it, too. We’re having hot dogs and hamburgers on the main showroom’s front porch, where all our remaining Volts will be on display, fully charged and ready to test drive! I sent this mailing to all our Volt clients as well:

Volt Invitation

Here’s the schedule for the DFW area event:

This year’s DFW event will be held on Saturday, September 19, from 10:00am to 2:00pm in section 2C (between Neiman Marcus Last Call and Saks Off 5th) of the Grapevine Mills Mall parking lot.

10:00 am – Event Opening!
Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, charging infrastructure retailers, EV fleet representatives, North Texas environmental and electric vehicle advocacy organizations, and even an electricity-powered bicycle company will be set up and ready to answer all of your questions!

Exhibitors and Ride and Drives will be available throughout the entire event.

11:00 am – EV Check-In
All North Texas electric and plug-in electric vehicle owners are called to join the largest gathering of EVs in North Central Texas! Check in to get your EV Owner badge and show off your ride.

11:30 am – Official EV Count
It won’t be an official record, but it will surely be one for the books! Let’s show everyone how DFW does EV!

12:00 pm – The Car Guy Show
Tim Miller and crew, from DFW’s own The Car Guy Show will be on site to profile the event, talk to owners, and explore the world of EVs.

1:00 pm – Nissan Giveaway Drawing: Free LEAF for a Weekend!
All attendees will be entered into a drawing to win a weekend with a Nissan Leaf. Stick around to see if you’re the lucky winner.

1:00 pm – Classic Chevrolet Giveaway Drawing: Free VOLT for a Weekend!
All attendees will be entered into a drawing to win a weekend with a Chevy Volt. Stick around to see if you’re the lucky winner!

2:00 pm – Event Ends
The event wraps up and the packing up process begins. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated!

Additional activities throughout the event will include hands on displays for all ages to learn more about EVs and charging options, along with entertainment, snacks, and giveaways.

How to Make DFW’s National Drive Electric Week Even Better

Register for the event!
If you drive an EV, bring it (and register it for the event, too)!
RSVP to the Facebook event .
Bring your friends! You can help us get the word out and let other North Texans experience the joys of Driving Electric. Share the Facebook event, and use the hashtags #texasEV, #NDEW2015, and #DFWCCC to let everyone know you’re attending!

2016 Volt availability???

No Volts For You!Over the last few days, other EV blogs and Volt fans have reached out to me (since I work at a Chevy dealership) to see what I know about 2016 Volt availability. This was spurred by Inside EVs breaking the news that 39 states will never see the 2016 Volt sold within their borders. The story included a screenshot of what was supposed to be the timeline page of the 2016 Volt Playbook. I logged onto my General Motors account to check on this and everything I could find showed the original 2016 Volt timeline, which showed nationwide production of the Volt to begin in October.

This morning, the info in the 2016 Volt Playbook has been updated to reflect the Inside EVs scoop and Torque News has reported on it as well.

I had been holding out hope that I would be able to get a 2016 Volt before December 31st, in order to claim the income tax credit next year. To get that credit that now, I’d have to either a) buy a current-model Volt or b) find a dealership in a CARB state that will sell and ship a Volt to me. Neither of these are acceptable to me. I am not going to buy a Volt from a competitor and I really, really want the new model.

In the various Volt groups on Facebook, there are many others like me who are perturbed.

Now my thoughts have switched to the 2017 and these questions arise:

  • Why is the 2016 ending so early and the 2017 starting production in February 2016?
  • Is it possible that General Motors has been listening to owners and decided to add features we’ve been begging for (i.e. faster Level 2 charging, Synergy Green paint or a convertible)?
  • Would I buy the latest Apple device if I thought a new, improved device would be introduced after only 5 months?
  • Why all the secrecy???


Charles joins the gang!

Charles, Kelly, Buzz and VoltIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have seen my good friend Charles Mills in our product review videos. Charles and I met about six years ago, when we both worked for Apple in Fort Worth. I was a Business Manager, managing a team that specialized in business sales and Charles was a Creative, teaching classes in Apple software, including (and specializing in video editing/production). He has helped me by shooting and editing video reviewss of the Cadillac ELR, BMW i3 and EGO Power+ lawn equipment. In fact, after the BMW i3 review, Charles’ girlfriend Kelly bought an i3!

Charles also writes, shoots, directs and edits videos for weddings and for competitions. I have had roles in a couple of his non-EV productions, including Silver Lake (which won 3rd place in a 24 hour video race in Dallas). I played one of the Hammersmith brothers, a pair of film noir private investigators, trying to find out who (or what) has been killing people around Silver Lake. Charles is a huge fan of horror movies and many of his productions would fit that description.Silver Lake

Charles had a BMW 328i and had been wanting a plug-in vehicle for a while. He and I have opposite views on styling. Almost any EV he likes (Leaf, i3, i-MiEV, etc), I think is ugly. Conversely, almost any EV I like (Cadillac ELR), he dislikes. He had also been entertaining less expensive gas-powered cars like the Honda Fit (see what I mean about his styling tastes?).The Black Knight

I convinced the Inventory Manager to add three of our dealerships’ Volts to a VIN-specific incentive of $2,000 list. I called Charles, who was getting very interested in the Fit, and told him of the deal I could do on these three 2015 Volts. He came out and ended up leasing a fully-loaded black Volt.

Other Charles news: His girlfriend Kelly is now his fiancee! He proposed to her, while on vacation in Paris. Charles and Kelly will wed next month, on Friday the 13th of November. Did I mention he likes horror movies?

Now they’ll be a two plug-in family!Charles, Kelly and the Volt

August 2015 Sales Numbers

In August 2015, the plug-in market was a mixed bag:

  • Chevy Volt: UP 5% (1,380 vs. 1,313)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 19% (1,394 vs. 1,174)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 41% (344 vs. 584)
  • Cadillac ELR: DOWN 32% (45 vs. 66)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 15% (792 vs. 935)
  • BMW i8: DOWN 3% (210 vs. 217)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 11% (949 vs. 852)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 4% (723 vs. 693)

The price of gasoline started a precipitous drop in the first week of the month, followed by an increase during the 2nd week, back to a point slightly higher than at month start. Then the bottom fell out and the price of gasoline dropped to a low of $2.48 per gallon at month’s end and averaged $2.56 for the month. Although the Chevy Volt’s sales continued to rise for the second month in a row, it did not beat out the Nissan Leaf, as it did the previous month. My view from inside the dealership is that dealers, in low-demand areas especially, are dropping prices precipitously, to move the current model out, before the new one starts production later this month. The Nissan Leaf recovered partially, after dropping a whopping 43% in July, by increasing sales by 19% in August. What’s becoming a concern is the bottom chart. Compared to the original Prius, which I use as a new technology adoption success, the Volt and Leaf are trailing off in adoption. The original Prius did this just prior to the second generation Prius debut (lower chart months 36-39). Then, the roof blew off and people started buying Prius’ in droves, equalling the first 39 months’ sales in only 12 months. Perhaps the low price of gas is having some impact, but my experience in the dealership, is that people test driving Volts love them for their quality of ride, acceleration then economy. The widening gap, between the original Prius adoption curve and the Volt/Leaf’s adoption curves, causes me pause.August 2015 Sales Numbers

July’s sales figures show the Leaf regaining a little ground, for all-time sales since inception. The Leaf’s lead over the Volt has been trimmed to 3,305 units, a gain of 14 units. The Plug-in Prius has another bad month, dropping 41% from July’s numbers. The Cadillac, dropped as well, with an decrease of 32%. The BMW i3 dropped 15%from the previous month, which had been a significant increase over July. The BMW i8 also a minor drop of 3%. Ford’s numbers on the Fusion Energi and the C-Max Energi increased. The Fusion by 11% and the C-Max by 4%.

Sales, compared to the same month a year ago, are almost all down. Substantially. In this case, only one vehicle showed an increase. That one EV was the BMW i8, but the last month’s sales were being compared to the very first month of i8 availability in the U.S. For this reason, I don’t consider it to be an outlier, in the data trend. Next month will tell us more on the i8’s story…

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 45% (1,380 vs. 2,511)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 56% (1,394 vs. 3,186)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 58% (344 vs. 818)
  • Cadillac ELR: DOWN 77% (45 vs. 196)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 23% (792 vs. 1,025)
  • BMW i8: UP 2,233% (210 vs. 9) *9 units in first month of availability
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 22% (949 vs. 1,222)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 31% (723 vs. 1,050)

Tesla Model S test drive event

Hotel drivewayTesla Motors put on a three-day test drive event, at the Hilton hotel in Southlake, Texas, Friday through Sunday (today). The hotel is a short distance from Classic Chevrolet, so I though, “What the heck,” and signed up for Sunday at 1:00PM. I requested a P85D, so I could experience “Insane Mode.” Remember, the reason I fell in love with EVs was the torque and acceleration of electric drive. Shortly after I signed up, Bonnie, my wife, texted me asking, “Are you doing this?” She had signed up for the test drive as well. On the same day. At the same time. I guess 20 years of marriage gives a couple telepathy…or Radar Love

Buzz & bannerI was surprised, that there weren’t hordes of people queued up outside the hotel, when we arrived. They seemed to have planned the event very well, with the appointment times spaced enough that clients could start the drive very soon after arriving. In fact, this is what I’ve been wanting to set up for National Drive Electric Week: a fleet of Chevy Volts and skilled salespeople queued up, on a Sunday, to give test drives and discuss the advantages of driving a plug-in vehicle.

We were paired up with a part-time Tesla representative/college student named Ian and we walked out to the hotel’s roundabout, where we selected a P85D to drive.

Bonnie let me have the first drive, which included both freeway and city street driving areas. Getting on the frontage road, the Model S accelerated very quickly but I wasn’t pushing down much on the accelerator (formerly known as a “gas pedal” to the uninitiated…). Ian had me drive down to a u-turn and then onto the freeway. This time, I was ready to really accelerate, in order to access the freeway.

Holy cow.

Buzz & IanLike I said, I am used to driving plug-in vehicles of various brands. This was a whole new experience for me. Within a very few seconds, we had accelerated to XX miles per hour and it felt like the Model S was eager to do even more, but I’ve been on scary test drives (as the rep) and didn’t want to stress Ian out…too much. The ride was very smooth and quiet as with other EVs. The major difference was the acceleration, the HUGE touchscreen in the center of the dash and two gigantic sunroofs. Having almost wrecked my first Volt, on my first day of leasing it, by playing with the Volt’s touchscreen, I abstained as much as I could from messing with it. After stopping later, we were shown web browsing, the rear view camera, sunroof operation, navigation (including Supercharger locations) and audio controls on the touchscreen.Teslas

The Model S exhibited one of my pet peeves regarding plug-in vehicles: The shifter. I still don’t know why manufacturers feel an advanced vehicle has to have some new way of changing gear. We’ve all had years and years of shift levers. Why reinvent the wheel?!? That being said, once we were shown how to use the shifter, it was not an issue (other than my pet peeve).

Driving the Model S, the brakes were very responsive. Bonnie mentioned the brakes felt like when she gives driving lessons to our 16-year old daughter, Zoe. It took a few stops for either of us to brake smoothly, but we caught on quickly. We returned to the hotel, where Bonnie & I switched places and she took the same route. When we returned to the hotel at the end of Bon’s drive, she asked, “How do I turn it off?” Ian said you don’t have to. When you open the door and get out, it shuts down automatically!

Now, realize: Bonnie is not a gear head, when it comes to cars. She loves her Volt and is ready to get her next one.P85DWe started asking about option levels and pricing, mentioning that we would never be able to afford a Model S and were merely curious. Ian discussed leasing as well as demo vehicles. I was thunderstruck. Although I now work in auto sales, it never occurred to me that Tesla would mark down these test drive vehicles and then sell them (or lease them) at a discount. How much of a discount? That remains to be seen, but he definitely roused my curiosity. He mentioned what a three-year, 12K mile per year lease and down payment would run and I could sense Bonnie paying rapt attention. Could she be falling for a Model S??Frunk

All the vehicles at the test drive had the premium interior and I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed. The roof liner looked like suede and just seemed “off” to me. The backs of the front seats were plastic shells and previous passengers had scuffed them up a little, getting in and out of the cars. This was nothing that would prevent me from wanting to buy or lease a Model S, but it seemed a little inexpensive for a $100K+ car. Then again, most of the money probably goes to the amazing electric performance, touchscreen and gigantic panoramic sunroof. The trunk was also cavernous (think Chevy Impala huge) and the “frunk” (forward trunk) was decently sized as well.

We decided to speak with one of the managers about demos/leasing/buying, etc. Due to the Texas law that states manufacturers of vehicles cannot sell directly to the public and must go through dealerships, the manager could not put us in front of a computer to determine pricing. We decided we’d check that out on our own, once we got home.

We also discussed the build-out of Tesla Superchargers in Texas and the rest of the U.S. and Canada. We were shown a map of locations that was filling out nicely. The far West region of Texas didn’t have any yet and it was explained that installing Superchargers requires local permitting and that that area of Texas was “less cooperative” than other areas. I’ve had several customers come to my dealership, from that area of Texas, because they could not get a decent deal on a Chevy there. The oil & gas industry has experienced a boom, in the area. Salespeople know this and are reluctant to discount much. Perhaps the oil boom is affecting local politics, when it comes to Supercharger permitting… No. That can’t be. Oil never affects politics, especially not in Texas! 😉

What floored me was when Bonnie asked me if she and I could work out a sharing schedule. I did not really see that coming. She already has a red 2016 Volt in the order queue at my dealership! She really, really liked the Model S, but knowing me for as long as she has, she knew she could not have a Model S all to herself! Now things were starting to get serious indeed.

Of course, I mentioned this blog and video reviews of the BMW i3, the Cadillac ELR, and even the EGO Power+ lawn equipment, and asked if there was any chance of getting a Model S for a day or two to do a review on it, as well as an introductory tour of the Model S, so I could be thorough. Stay tuned… **UPDATE** Nope. Not gonna happen.

One other odd thing: Every time I mentioned vehicles I’ve reviewed or driven, the Tesla rep I was speaking with always asked about the Cadillac ELR! They never asked about any other vehicle, just the ELR. I can see how the ELR’s price point might make one consider it a competitor for the Model S, but having driven both, they aren’t competitors really. I like both vehicles, but they’re for different sorts of drivers. Like the Volt, the ELR has both gas and electric motors, eliminating range anxiety. Well, almost eliminating range anxiety. I still feel it, when my Volt is about to switch to gasoline. I hate it when that happens, not because it does so poorly, but that I’m starting to hate noise and sluggishness of gasoline-powered vehicles.The Red Bonster