- My car was totaled. I looked for an inexpensive replacement, but hated my options.
- My wife brought up electric cars, as a less-expensive option (this was back when gas was well over $3 per gallon)
- I test drove a Leaf and a Volt and leased a 2012 Volt.
- I couldn’t stop telling everyone I knew about how great the Volt is and my friends were getting tired of hearing about it, so I started this blog, as a safety valve for my enthusiasm.
- I visited an electric vehicle club to see what the conversion of vehicles looked like.
- My wife leased a Volt two months after I did. She had driven SUVs exclusively the whole time I had known her!
- I traveled to the Chicago Auto Show as a member of the media (my blog)
- On a whim, I contacted my dealer about National Plug-In Day, to see what they were planning (nothing). The dealership invited me to come speak, at their sales meeting, about why I thought the Volt was so important to the U.S. and to G.M.
- Three days later, I started working there, as the “EVangelist.” I’m just a car salesperson, but I’m the go-to guy on GM’s electric offerings.
- As a family, we started reevaluating what success meant. We decided to sell our big, beautiful (but inefficient) house and built a new, smaller, more efficient home.
- We battled our homeowner’s association over their refusal to let us have solar panels on our new home.
- One year later, we got a Volt for our 16 year old daughter. (I’m driving that, until she completes her driver training and my new Volt arrives)
- At the end of my first full year in car sales, I qualified for the General Motors Mark of Excellence. (GM presents you with a ring and a wooden presentation box)
- Another year and we replaced my wife’s leased Volt with a 2015 Volt.
- My second full year in car sales resulted in attaining General Motors Mark of Excellence again. (GM will add a diamond to my ring)
- I ordered a 2017 Volt to replace my leased 2012.
In January 2016, every plug-in vehicle I track but one, had sales volume lower than the previous month, reversing the previous month’s trend. Why? In my opinion, the government’s approach to plug-in vehicle subsidies fuels this. The best month to purchase a plug-in vehicle is December, because you can file for the Federal Income Tax Credit the very next month (or so). Here’s how January sales looked, compared to the previous month:
- Chevy Volt: DOWN 53% (996 vs. 2,114)
- Nissan Leaf: DOWN 44% (755 vs. 1,347)
- Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 55% (10 vs. 22) **more on this shortly…
- Cadillac ELR: DOWN 50% (67 vs. 135)
- BMW i3: DOWN 87% (182 vs. 1,422) **what?!?!?!?
- BMW i8: DOWN 95% (656 vs. 118) **what (again)?!?!?!?
- Ford Fusion Energi: ***** (??? vs. 1,058)
- Ford C-Max Energi: ***** (??? vs. 579)
In January, the price of gasoline averaged $1.88 in the U.S. This is (once again) the lowest average price, since I began tracking it, over five years ago. This is not conducive to discussions of fuel economy with potential buyers.
The Chevy Volt had pretty good month, posting 996 units sold, which was the second best January sales total ever (#1 was January 2013). The Volt has closed on the lead built up by the Nissan Leaf, over the last ten months, to less than 900 units. February sales will still be hindered by the fact that the currently available 2016 Volt is only sold in 11 states. Hopefully, before the end of February, the 2017 Volts will begin arriving nationwide and give us a real picture of Volt potential across all 50 states.
The Nissan Leaf experienced a 44% decrease, compared to the previous month, which had been the best the Leaf had done in five months.
The plug-in Prius dropped 55% to an all-time monthly low of just ten units sold. I’ve been expecting the demise of this car for quite a while now, and Green Car Reports published a report stating the Prius line was to be thinned out. However, they also said, “…the future of the Prius Plug-In Hybrid is assured.” Then added, “Toyota ended production last summer, saying there was sufficient supply of the plug-in Prius to last until near the launch of a new model this year.” Whaaaaaat???
BMW had a very rough January, at least as far as monthly sales increases goes. The i3 was down 87% and the i8 a staggering 95%! In all fairness, BMW had a blowout December, so there had to be a decline. That being said, the decline is staggering, representing the all-time lowest monthly sales volume for the i3 and the second-lowest for the i8, with the only lower monthly total, being the first month it was available.
As usual, I am awaiting Ford’s sales results and will update this post when they are available.
The adoption curves, in the lower graph, continue to concern me each month. The Volt and Leaf adoption curves continue to diverge from the original Prius’ curve more every month. The very low price of gasoline surely plays a role in adoption of plug-in vehicle, but it doesn’t have as much impact on second or third purchases, because those of us who’ve made the plunge seem to love the quiet electric drive, the sprightly acceleration and the convenience of refueling at home. As such, I still believe this revolution will continue, although new buyers will be harder to convince than they were when gasoline was $4 per gallon.
January traffic at my dealership was dismal. Although I had my best January yet, it wasn’t something to crow about.
Sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were almost all down, with the exception of the Volt. The BMW i3 & i8 had substantial decreases, compared to a year ago, but I have no data as to why. Being the only European vehicles I track, I wonder if there was a German holiday that shut down production…
- Chevy Volt: UP 84% (996 vs. 542)
- Nissan Leaf: DOWN 29% (755 vs. 1,070)
- Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 98% (10 vs. 401) ***this is just getting cruel, Toyota!
- Cadillac ELR: DOWN 27% (67 vs. 92)
- BMW i3: DOWN 73% (182 vs. 670)
- BMW i8: DOWN 62% (32 vs. 85)
- Ford Fusion Energi: ??? (??? vs. 426)
- Ford C-Max Energi: ??? (??? vs. 395)
Well the day has finally arrived: The 2017 Chevy Volt goes into production TODAY! Regular readers of this blog are aware that my first Volt was a 2012 that was leased. The lease ran out in August of last year. Fortunately, we had gotten a 2014 Volt for our daughter, Zoe. She has her learner’s permit but no driver’s license yet, so I’ve been driving her Volt, until I could get a 2016.
Then, General Motors dropped a bomb. 2016 Volts were NOT coming to Texas (or another 38 states). I had been offered a chance at getting a 2016 by GM, but that fell apart in late December. My 2017 Volt was the very first ordered by Classic Chevrolet and had the #1 priority, but oddly, one of my customers will have their Volt built this week, while mine is slated for the week of February 15th. Oh well…
I ordered it in Silver Ice Metallic paint because the wrap company said it would be best for the metallic green wrap I want to do.
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted!
Pamela Fletcher, Executive Chief Engineer for GM’s electrified vehicles:
Below, she discusses the future of electric cars on C-Span. Enjoy!
Why is it the myths of having to replace the battery pack and “bursting into flames” continue to be brought up?
Before we get into this: I do not want to debate you over our choices in this election. You are not going to persuade me and I doubt I’m going to persuade you. This election is definitely part of the path that has become “My Electric Vehicle Journey.”
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, my politics are obvious. I am a liberal/progressive. My hero Presidents include Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter. My very first vote in a Presidential election was for Carter. I am proud of that vote to this day, especially because of how this man lived his life after the Presidency.
I do not drive my Volt as a political statement. I drive it because it’s good looking, fun, fast and economical. I’ve always been concerned about the environment and nowadays, you could say I’m not only concerned, I’m alarmed. Watching clowns display snowballs in the Senate to deny global climate change, enrages me. I’ve mentioned before how the attempts to stifle government scientists’ warnings seem like the story of how the planet Krypton’s leaders tried to stifle Kal-El, resulting in the destruction of that world. (yes, I know it’s fiction, but current events are playing out like that now)
I’m concerned about those barely clinging to the ladder of The American Dream. I feel for those who need medical insurance and are unable to afford it, those who work full-time jobs but cannot lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Our Declaration of Independence declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right to live should not only be for only those who, facing a grave disease, can afford treatment, but any of us. Remember, we are all equal.
I’ve been concerned about the growing income inequality, in our country. When one has so much money that they own everything a person could possibly desire, with lots of money left over, what else can they buy? Oh yeah. Our government!
I’m concerned that our democracy has become an oligarchy. Our elected representatives are more interested in getting reelected than solving the great problems we face. They grant themselves immunity from prosecution over insider trading, great medical benefits (while denying the same to literally millions of Americans and a lifetime pension unavailable to everyday Americans. Consequently, they spend their time gathering cash for the next election cycle, too cowardly to enact meaningful legislation, because they are afraid they’ll offend a donor. The Supreme Court decision in favor of Citizens United, in my opinion, is the worst example of this I know of. Our government is bought and paid for, and it sickens me.
I’ve been getting more and more excited about a politician who seems genuine and has a lifetime record of caring for his fellow Americans. Yes, I’m talking about Bernie Sanders.
I don’t think we need a walk down memory lane with another Clinton or (heaven forbid) Bush. In fact, I have embraced the idea of voting ALL incumbents out of office, even if I like them. (yes, even Bernie) But that’s not going to happen.
I’ve never endorsed a candidate before, via My Electric Vehicle Journey. I mean, just who in the hell do I think I am?!?!? But our corporate media seems to be ignoring the growing groundswell of supporters at (certain) events and avoid substantive debate about the important issues of our day. I believe the media is bought and paid for as well. Broadcasters are as afraid to offend an advertiser as our government representatives are to offend large donors.
Then this morning, I saw this video on Facebook. It had a profound impact on me, not because of the song or lyrics (although pretty great in themselves) but due to the images of large crowds of people who, like me, are desperate to bring our government back under the control of the citizenry.
That’s why I will vote for Bernie Sanders, even if I have to write him in. (watch it to the end)
In January 2015, I attended the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to see the unveiling of the 2nd generation Chevy Volt. Also shown, during the same presentation, was the concept EV, the Chevy Bolt. I thought it interesting that the paint color used on the concept was very, very similar to the usual color of the BMW i3 in ads, causing me to compare the two vehicles’ exterior appearance, side-to-side.
This January, the production version of the Chevy Bolt debuted at CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. It’s an interesting place to present a new car, but I think we can all agree that the Bolt is a consumer-used electronics device. However, I’m wondering if this venue hints to more fundamental shifts in the thinking of automotive marketing and after-market support/updates. Time will tell.
The official Chevy Bolt site is up an running, although photos there are captioned, “Pre-production model shown. Actual model may vary.” (and then the best part) “Available in Late 2016.”
This, in my opinion, is a very important EV, in that it will be the first 200+ mile range EV costing less than $70K. It is expected to cost $37,500 before federal income tax credit (or $30K after it). That is HUGE! Quite often, when speaking with a potential plug-in vehicle buyer, I am told, “If I could go a couple hundred miles on a charge, I’d be interested.” Although studies have shown the average American drives 40 miles a day, many seem to think they need much more range than that. In general, I would agree with that sentiment, if we are discussing pure EVs. In the case of a hybrid, like the Volt, i3 (with REX), C-Max Energy, ELR, etc, I’d disagree, based on my 3-1/2 years driving Volts.
This may be the one that starts mass adoption of EVs. I’d still like to see a Chevy Colorado-sized EV or Volt-like hybrid, since at least 60% of my dealership’s sales are trucks/SUVs. In fact, my own sales, in which I always bring up the Volt (if it seems like a possible fit for the client), are 33% trucks (Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban and Colorado) and only 13% Volt and 11% Corvette. Many of these trucks and SUVs are sold to people who will never, ever tow anything. How do I know? I ask! As part of my exploration of the client’s needs, if trucks or SUVs are desired, the next step is to determine what sort of towing capacity they may need. They just really like the pickup or SUV form factor.
The key to major market penetration of EVs will be range, acceleration (at the high price segment*) and form factor. For acceleration, there’s always the BMW i8, Tesla Model S & Model X, Acura NSX, Porsche 918 Spyder. General Motors recently trademarked the names Corvette E-ray and E-ray, without stating what it means… (oh please, oh please, oh please!)
The traditional truck/SUV market already supports prices up to and beyond $65K (see Tahoe LTZ, Silverado 2500HD High Country as Chevrolet examples). Whoever devises a truck/SUV plug-in (especially a sequential hybrid, like the Volt/ELR) will sell a great number of vehicles, IF they can get to a $70K-$80K price point. I’m looking at you Via Motors/Bob Lutz! (BTW: If you haven’t ready Mr. Lutz’s books, I highly recommend them.)
I am currently gathering all the information, regarding the Bolt, that I can, in order to give as much Bolt information as possible. Look for it in the next few days. In the meantime, here’s a General Motors video about the Bolt:
It has been five years since the introduction of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. Can you believe it???
In December 2015, every plug-in market I track but two, had sales volume higher than the previous month (probably due to the end of the tax year and the impending income taxes):
- Chevy Volt: UP 7% (2,114 vs. 1,980)
- Nissan Leaf: UP 28% (1,347 vs. 1,054)
- Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 50% (22 vs. 44)
- Cadillac ELR: UP 101% (135 vs. 67)
- BMW i3: UP 97% (1,422 vs. 723)
- BMW i8: UP 456% (656 vs. 118)
- Ford Fusion Energi: UP 12% (1,058 vs. 944)
- Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 8% (579 vs. 639)
In December, the price of gasoline averaged only $2.01 in the U.S. This is the lowest average price, since I began tracking it five years ago. Will the low price of gas inhibit the sales of plug-in vehicles? Yes, I think it will, to newbies. However, I still believe most of us who’ve moved to a plug-in vehicle will not be going back to a purely gasoline-driven vehicles. It’s about the fun of driving, not necessarily saving money, for us old-timers.
The 2016 Chevy Volt had another good month, posting 2,114 units sold, which was the tenth best monthly sales total ever and the highest we’ve seen since August 2014. I expected higher Volt sales, but it is currently only available in 11 states, so that (plus the price of gasoline) may be inhibiting sales.
The Nissan Leaf experienced a 28% increase, compared to the previous month, which is the best the Leaf has done in five months.
The only drop in sales was of the plug-in Prius. I expect this to be a very low-selling vehicle, until Toyota gets it a bigger battery pack and increased electric range.
BMW had a very good Christmas, at least as far as monthly sales increases goes. The i3 was up 97% and the i8 a staggering 456%! I do not expect this trend to continue, as both vehicles average well below the December figures.
As usual, I am awaiting Ford’s sales results and will update this post when they are available.
The adoption curves, in the lower graph, are a bigger concern to me each month. The Volt and Leaf adoption curves continue to diverge from the original Prius’ curve more every month.
December traffic at my dealership was usual: for the first 24 days, it was dead, then all hell broke loose and people started buying cars. At the beginning of 2015, after I’d qualified for General Motors Mark of Excellence, in my first year of auto sales, I set a goal of 100 vehicles for 2015. I hit my goal on January 2nd (GM’s quarter ended on January 4th) and added two more on the last day of the quarter. In the process, I have qualified for General Motors Mark of Excellence again. I am grateful to my customers and my dealership for helping me attain this goal. Now, I’ve got to think of this year’s goals…
Sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were almost all up, with the exception of the Leaf, Prius and C-Max Energi. The Prius’ performance may as well be thought of as a death watch. Every month of 2015, showed a calamitous drop from the same month a year prior. On the other hand, the Leaf is about to get an update, including improved electric range, so its sales slump may be due to the iPhone effect I’ve mentioned before. Both the BMW offerings were substantially higher than a year ago, with the i8 increasing a whopping 315%! Both BMW figures were well above normal average sales, so I believe the large increases are primarily due to end-of-year purchases for income tax reasons.
- Chevy Volt: UP 42% (2,114 vs. 1,490)
- Nissan Leaf: DOWN 57% (1,347 vs. 3,102)
- Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 96% (22 vs. 492) ***oh, the humanity!
- Cadillac ELR: UP 14% (135 vs. 118)
- BMW i3: UP 40% (1,422 vs. 1,013)
- BMW i8: UP 315% (656 vs. 158) ***somebody had a nice Christmas…
- Ford Fusion Energi: UP 34% (1,058 vs. 789)
- Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 12% (579 vs. 659)
Looking forward, the 2017 Volt begins production in less than a month and will be available in all 50 states. Once that happens, we should see even more increases in sales volume. In fact, the blog, “Green Car Reports” just named the 2016 Volt, the “Best Car to Buy.” By December, we should begin seeing the Chevy Bolt start showing up in showrooms. The 200 mile range has been a holy grail of EVs and, of the three companies that have announced plans to build a pure EV with that range (Chevrolet, Nissan and Tesla Motors), it appears Chevrolet will be the first to market with one. That has “game changer” written all over it.