Well, what are we waiting for?

VTrux grilleI’ve told many clients that if GM offered a Volt-like plug-in hybrid (or fully electric) pickup truck, I’d be a rich man. The rich part, of course, is in jest, but it would mean a serious uptick in plug-in vehicle adoption, in my humble opinion. Imagine a fully electric Chevy Colorado…

The dealership I work for, Classic Chevrolet, is the North Texas service center for Via Motors‘ extended range pickup truck. I’ve been waiting, since Spring of 2014, for the ability to sell one of their trucks. I’ve ridden in one. It was a full-sized Chevy Silverado, crew cab and it was wonderful. Still, I wait…VTrux

Now, several electric trucks have been announced, by various manufacturers. Here are a few:

It is obvious that there are manufacturers that want to pursue this market. For the 2018 model year, Chevy is rumored to be introducing the eAssist Silverado, a V8-powered “mild hybrid” (think Malibu Hybrid, not Volt). It is estimated to get an estimated 13% increase in fuel economy, compared to a non-hybrid Silverado.

When will this market take shape???VTrux solar

May 2017 Sales Numbers

May 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were up, for the vehicles I track, with one exception, and that exception was only very slightly down. In the three previous years, my May sales were great, qualifying me for bonuses from GM. This May, I struggled to sell only two vehicles, making this the worst first five months of the year I’ve had, since my first full year in this business, 2014. Traffic, both phone and on site, are markedly down.

The silver lining to the disaster of May 2017 was Bolt EV orders. Electric Avenue has received deposits for fifteen Bolt EVs. Two of those clients have asked me to hang onto their deposits, while they wait for better timing and one cancelled, in favor of the Volt. Then decided to not get the Volt.

The new month has started off so well, that I have already beaten last month’s crappy performance, with two Volt sales. One of the Bolt EV orders, mentioned above, occurred on the 1st of June. That particular order was interesting. The client had been to two other Chevy dealerships, looking to get an inbound Bolt EV reserved for himself. One dealership seemed completely disinterested and said they weren’t sure they were going to carry Bolt EV. One said they’d have one, that matched his criteria within six weeks (I doubt that’s possible).The client stated, from the very beginning of our discussion, “Whoever gets it in first wins.

Then he walked into Electric Avenue. We have a Bolt EV here, which is on loan to us from an owner. We cannot sell it, but we can show it off and test drive it. I checked our incoming inventory (35 Bolt EVs, including 12 ordered for clients) and did not find one that matched his criteria. After the test drive, we discussed the reasons why the one dealership said they probably would not carry Bolt EV, and I pointed out to him that not only were we going to have them in large (for Texas) quantities, but that we had designated a building specifically for EV & hybrid sales. I explained that we spent tens of thousands of dollars to make an environment for buyers of these vehicles, that is completely different than any other sales building on the premises, and was modeled after my experience working at Apple Retail. I closed with, “When it comes time to get your Bolt EV, support the dealership that is supporting you.” He immediately decided to place a deposit and order his Bolt EV from me.

Here are the May 2017 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: UP 1% (1,817 vs. 1,807)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 21% (1,566 vs. 1,292)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 31% (1,392 vs. 1,063)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 5% (1,908 vs. 1,819)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 44% (1,620 vs. 1,125) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 142% (1,730 vs. 715) **estimated
  • BMW i3: DOWN 2% (506 vs. 516)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 10% (1,000 vs. 905)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: UP 27% (950 vs. 749)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: UP 295% (75 vs. 19) ** My figures in last month’s summary mistakenly were for all Ioniqs, not just the electric that I intended to focus on…

In May, the average price of gasoline was down 2% compared with the previous month, dropping sharply, until the 14th of the month. Then, the price rose steadily, with one sharp dip, until the end of the month, finishing at $2.38.

May 2017 Sales NumbersAs I mentioned earlier, in May I only had two sales for the month. To show exactly what kind of disaster 2017 has been for me so far, take a look at the graph below. The red bars are the months of 2017. Notice how thin they are, compared to the other colors? It has become obvious that we should not have moved into the new building (which gets very low traffic) until Bolt EVs started to arrive.Buzz's Sales By Month

My May sales were comprised of one Z06 Stingray one Silverado 1500. I did not sell a single Volt, so although the Volt continues to be my most popular vehicle, it lost ground to my 2nd- and 3rd-best selling vehicles.Buzz's Vehicle Sales By Model

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were up with only two exceptions, the Tesla Model S and the Ford Fusion Energi.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 4% (1,817 vs. 1,901)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in May 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 42% (1,392 vs. 979)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 47,500% (1,904 vs. 4) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last May
  • Tesla Model S: UP 35% (1,620 vs. 1,200)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 8% (1,730 vs.1,600)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 27% (506 vs. 696)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 31% (1,000 vs. 1,453)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 77% (950 vs. 538)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in May 2016)

We’ll always have Paris…well, no. We won’t.

Paris vs. Big OilThe Trump administration today backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which had all but two countries of the entire planet as signatories. This action starts a process that will take until 2020 to complete. During his campaign, Trump had claimed that climate change was a non-issue, created by the Chinese to make American manufacturing less competitive in world markets.

Of course, today’s news comes as no surprise. Trump’s selection of the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, benefitted from campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. Lobbyists, from the fossil fuel industry, drafted letters that Pruitt sent out on state stationery, when he was Oklahoma Attorney General. He sued the EPA, repeatedly to stop implementation of environmental protection rules. On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted to get rid of the EPA and/or slash its number of employees, making it ineffective. The EPA, under Pruitt, has removed all mention of global climate change from the agency’s website.

On Trump’s first foreign trip, during his stop at the Vatican, the Pope gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on climate change, as a gift. I have to wonder if that embarrassing incident caused Trump to dig in his heels, even more, with regards to the Paris accord…

Now, it’s up to each of us, to save the planet. At the state and local level, we must push for changes to reduce carbon emissions. Local governments need vehicles. They should be looking at hybrids and EVs, where they are appropriate. Government buildings should be topped with solar panels or wind turbines.

We, as consumers, have the power to drive or accelerate change to reduce greenhouse gases. Your wallet is a powerful weapon. If you have the ability to shop for your electricity provider, select one who uses renewable energy, instead of coal or natural gas. I did this over 16 years ago, by switching to Green Mountain Energy. In the beginning, I paid a little more for this. Now, they are very competitive with other, non-renewable energy providers.

If you’re a homeowner, consider adding solar panels to your home. Generate your own, pollution-free electricity from the sun. Lately, I’ve seen companies advertise that they are building solar farms and will provide electricity at a flat, monthly rate to those who cannot put solar panels on their residence (apartment dwellers, those who don’t have good southern exposure, renters, etc.).

When you’re out shopping, select vendors who are making changes to be environmentally responsible. If they have chargers for electric vehicles, hybrid delivery vehicles, solar panels on the business, frequent their establishment and make sure the manager/owner knows that their behavior is what made you their customer.

Recycle as much of your trash as possible. The more we can recycle materials, rather than make them from scratch, the less pollution we generate and the less room we’ll take up in landfills.

Drive a vehicle that is appropriate. If your daily commute is you, alone in a vehicle, do you really need that large SUV? Wouldn’t a hybrid, electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle work? There are tax incentives (for now, at least). Take advantage of them! Ask your friends, who have these cars, what the pros and cons are. If you have a large family, that requires a large vehicle, use that room to carpool, reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Take mass transit, if possible. Is this convenient? Maybe not. Suffering from lung disease isn’t either.

Most importantly, make sure your elected officials know that environmental stewardship is important to you. Call, write, email them. Let them know this is a primary way you’ll determine who you’ll vote for, and then VOTE! There are many hot-button issues that the politicians use to keep us divided. The pro-life/women’s rights argument has swayed many an election. Ask yourself, “How many babies will struggle to breathe, if we abandon effective environmental stewardship?” One of my daughters struggled every time there was an ozone alert in our area. It sounded like she had whooping cough. It was agonizing for us. “How many babies will starve to death, if we create a new dust bowl?” If you are really concerned about the fate of the unborn, this should be an important issue for you, as well.

Nothing can change a politician’s actions quite as quickly as the threat of impending unemployment. Organize and push for term limits for Congress. Most elected officials today have one, most important issue, with which they’re concerned. It’s keeping that cushy job, in Washington. It takes a lot of money to get elected. They can spend all their time trying to get small, individual donations, or they can have a few dinners for their wealthy contributors and rake in the cash. Then they have become a minion of these donors. Someone like Bernie Sanders only comes around rarely. Most politicians take the easy way out and sell their influence for campaign donations.

But, you already knew this.

Start to act on it.

This behavior only exists because we allow it to exist. We are part of the problem. Instead of complaining about our elected officials’ corruption and short-sightedness, look in the mirror. Change starts with you.

At long last, the Bolt EV & Texas

Chevy Bolt EVIt had to happen sooner or later. I’m just grateful it happened ahead of schedule. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is now available to order, at dealers in the great state of Texas!

Yes, Texas is my home state.

We’ve been making a list and checking it…often. Now that the day has come, we are receiving deposits from those interested in getting the Bolt EV as soon as possible…or at least as quickly as you can in Texas.

If you’d like to get a spot on the list or want to test drive a Bolt EV, as soon as possible, call one of Classic Chevrolet’s EVangelists at (817) 310-1025.

April 2017 Sales Numbers ***2 NEW VEHICLES ADDED!!***

Two new vehicles have been added to the charts, the Tesla Model X and the Hyundai Ioniq!

April 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were mixed, in the vehicles I track. In the three previous years, my April sales were 4, 10 and 8 units. This year, I sold six vehicles, which is slightly below the average of 7.3 vehicles for April, but considerably down compared to the average of the last two Aprils of nine vehicles. Traffic, both phone and on site, are markedly down.

My premature move into the EV/Hybrid Sales Center is part of the problem, as most visitors to the dealership go straight to the main showroom or the truck building. When we planned the new sales center, we expected the Bolt EV rollout to be nationwide from its first month of availability. GM had different ideas…

That being said, the drop in sales is across the dealership and appears to be across Texas, as well. I’ve heard many of my coworkers decrying this slowdown and thinking of other careers to pursue. It’s been that bad this year.

The dealership started taking deposits for Bolt EV, in preparation of orders starting for Texas in June (next month!). 32 people had signed up to reserve a place in line, but when it came time to collect deposits, some had never seen, much less sat in or driven, a Bolt EV. Due to that, only 13 of those have made deposits, but more are coming in every day, even some who were not on the previous list. To complicate matters, a lot of misinformation about the environmental advantages of EVs is circulating. Many articles have appeared, stating that if you count the environmental impact of generating the electricity used to power EVs, they are worse for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles. Those articles have been debunked by the Union of Concerned Scientists as well as other, reputable sources, but their misinformation persists, showing up as Facebook posts in EV and hybrid vehicle groups. It reminds me of the tobacco industry, in the 1950’s-1970’s, getting doctors to promote the safety of smoking cigarettes. I hate having to have the same debate over and over, but it is what it is…

Here are the April 2017 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 15% (1,807 vs. 2,132)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 32% (1,292 vs. 978)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 15% (1,063 vs. 1,478)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 8% (1,819 vs. 1,682)
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 67% (1,125 vs. 3,450) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 74% (715 vs. 2,750) **estimated
  • BMW i3: DOWN 27% (516 vs. 703)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 10% (905 vs. 1,002)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: UP 13% (749 vs. 662)
  • Hyundai Ioniq: UP 302% (1,316 vs. 327)

In April, the average price of gasoline was up 5% over the previous month, climbing steadily from the get-go, until the 20th of the month, when it peaked at $2.43. After that, the price fell pretty steeply, ending the month at $2.38.April 2017 EV Sales NumbersAdoption curves (lower of the two charts immediately above) show the continued rise of the Tesla Model S, The Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and the Prius Prime.

As I mentioned earlier, in April I only had six sales for the month, comprised of one Tahoe, two Corvettes and three Volts. I did not sell a single pickup, for the 2nd month in a row, so the Volt continues to rise as my most popular vehicle and the Corvette is closing in on second place (which would be fine with me).Vehicle Sales By Model

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were up with only two exceptions, the Tesla Model S and the Ford Fusion Energi.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 9% (1,807 vs. 1,983)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in April 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 35% (1,063 vs. 787)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 45,375% (1,819 vs. 4) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last April
  • Tesla Model S: UP 41% (1,125 vs. 800)
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 10% (715 vs. 795)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 19% (516 vs. 814)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 32% (905 vs. 1,331)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 23% (749 vs. 607)
  • Hyundai Ioniq: (was not available in April 2016)

Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club meeting: Electric vehicles

On Wednesday, March 22, The Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club hosted a meeting about the state of EVs in the State of Texas. It was held in a meeting room at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Presenting at the meeting, was Kristina Ronneberg of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

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Kristina may be reached at KRonneberg@nctcog.org

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North Texas has made huge strides in reducing air pollution. One of my daughters suffered respiratory issues on really bad air quality days and throughout her life, I’ve witnessed the bad days becoming fewer and fewer…

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I added the example vehicles.

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This is how I met NCTCOG: The Electric Vehicles North Texas stakeholder group.

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NCTCOG does a FANTASTIC job promoting National Drive Electric Week.

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This is where I see things a bit differently. In my opinion, the VAST majority of EV miles will be local, not cross-country. For this reason, I recommend focusing on changes to construction codes, to encourage outlets for charging in multi-family construction, encouragement of making 220V outlets standard in new home garage construction. Hotel/motel/restaurant charger focus for long distance trips and finally, charger locations in urban areas that are in areas people could reasonably expect to be at, for multiple hours at a time: malls, theaters, hospitals, restaurants, arenas/stadia, hotels, city parks, golf courses.

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See previous slide for my thoughts on this.

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Texas’ Senate Bill 26 may bring back the $2,500 incentive for eligible vehicles registered in Texas. (I got one of these checks!)

February 2017 Sales Numbers

February 2017 presented mixed results in plug-in vehicle sales. It’s always a difficult month to forecast, as the post-December hangover might, or might not, continue past January. One surprise, for me at least, was the decrease in sales of the Chevy Bolt EV. According to GM’s published roll-out schedule, three more states began to receive the Bolt EV, in February. They are Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia. With the awards garnered by the Bolt EV, I expected additional states would mean additional sales. It is unclear to me, what the reason for the slowdown is, as I am in Texas and won’t have a Bolt, in stock, until August

Within the last week, I finally had an opportunity to drive the Bolt and found it to be exceptional (surprise, surprise). Two show cars were brought to us for charging and minor cosmetic repairs, in preparation for the Dallas Auto Show. I went to our Service Manager, Mike Zorn, and told him he needed to come experience the joy of EV. He climbed into the driver’s seat and drove into the Service area. I assumed he was going to pass through, to the back lot to plug it in. The chargers, in the Service area, were all occupied, so when he brought it back and parked in front of Electric Avenue, four Service Department members climbed out! Understand: these are all high-octane, big truck or sports car fans. It was so cool to see their obvious enthusiasm for the Bolt. They were impressed, indeed!

***HOLY COW!!!*** While writing this blog post, the Parts Manager just dropped in, asking if he could drive the Bolt! We aren’t allowed to test drive these two, as they are show cars, but his interest assured me the future will be bright for this EV.

Here are the February 2017 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: UP 13% (1,820 vs. 1,611)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: DOWN 18% (952 vs. 1,162)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 34% (1,037 vs. 772)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: VIRTUALLY UNCHANGED (1,362 vs. 1,366)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 94% (1,750 vs. 900) **estimated
  • BMW i3: DOWN 17% (318 vs. 382)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 38% (837 vs. 606)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: UP 35% (639 vs. 473)

In February, the average price of gasoline bottomed out at $2.26 per gallon, on the 7th and rose through the rest of the month, finishing at $2.32. The price began to rise quickly, after February 26th. Gas averaged $2.29 per gallon, over the month, which was just a slight increase over January’s average.February 2017 EV Sales NumbersFebruary sales, for me at least, were still slow. Part of this was my move into the new EV & Hybrid Sales Center. Traffic was pretty low across the entire dealership and I had the additional challenge of moving, setting up and being in a building that had been closed for a couple months. Shortly before my move, we began a sell-off of “Courtesy Transportation Program” (or CTP) vehicles. CTPs are ‘loaners,’ provided to our customers by our Service Department, while the customers’ vehicles are being serviced. GM has a program in place that helps dealers do this and there are certain rules for the program. For instance, to qualify for an additional incentive, that varies with each type and trim level of vehicle, there is a minimum mileage/time in-service requirement. We try to rotate vehicles out of the program as early as possible, and mark down the prices accordingly. A huge number of these vehicles were removed from the program recently and, being in Texas, most of them are Tahoes, Suburbans, Traverses (all SUVs) and Silverado pickups. For customer convenience, we park all these vehicles in a “Clearance Center” parking lot. However, so many were released at once, that the lot in front of my new building, was a sea of SUVs. Fear not: our entire Volt and Malibu Hybrid stock was parked in front of the EV & Hybrid Sales Center, as well! As with any new home, there are bugs to work out, some things aren’t completely ready (like signage, although that got fixed yesterday) and methodologies. I have redesigned the sales process for the building, based on my experience at Apple. Very few salespeople were interested in the new building or new process, so my team is a pretty small one. However, I believe by October, there will be salespeople here that will wish they had jumped on the EV/hybrid bandwagon.

Yes, I have chugged the Kool-Aid.

But you knew that already…

I only had five sales for the month, including four SUVs and one Volt. I did not sell a single pickup, so the Volt continues to rise as my most popular vehicle (again, surprise, surprise).Vehicle Sales By Model

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were up with only one exception. Last month that exception was the Ford Fusion Energi. I’m encouraged that, in a usually slow month, plug-in vehicle sales continue to rise, year-over-year. This was not true in February 2016, when compared to February 2015. The Chevy Volt, once again, took top honors with a total of 1,820 units sold, compared to the Tesla Model S’s volume (estimated) of 1,750 units.

  • Chevy Volt: UP 62% (1,820 vs. 1,126)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in February 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 2% (1,037 vs. 930)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 13,560% (1,362 vs. 6) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last February
  • Tesla Model S: UP 6% (1,750 vs. 1,550)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 55% (318 vs. 248)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 4% (837 vs. 932)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 35% (639 vs. 490)

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed my posts have become more rare. I am working longer hours, to get the new building up and running and to build a team of like-minded EVangelists. I have the next few articles planned, but am a little short of time… Thanks for stopping by!