Stepping into a larger world

A friend of mine that I met, during my 2013 trip to the Chicago Auto Show sent a message to me recently. He said he had seen someone looking for writers for articles, to be published on an automotive website. He thought I’d be a good fit. I responded the only types of vehicles I could write with, with any authority or expertise, would be EVs and hybrids.

Brad, my friend, forwarded my response to the publisher, which resulted in a phone call, from the publisher and a discussion of how publishing with his website works.

I have a demanding full-time job, as well as a blog and a podcast I am starting, so I was pretty timid about sticking my toe in the pond. Armen, the publisher, suggested sending a test article. Like most people, I am unsure of myself, but this seemed like a good approach, so I submitted the article. If you like it, please share from TorqueNews or leave a comment there!

It was published almost immediately on TorqueNews.TorqueNews Article

Time is fleeting.

A lot of my friends, whom I hold in high regard, are silent on social media, or so it seems. It is well past time that we spoke, in a unified voice, against white supremacy, Nazi flags/regalia/salutes, nighttime torch marches meant to intimidate, violence against others due to race/religion/sexual orientation/ethnicity.

If you refuse to believe that one political party courted the alt-right, in order to win elections (or at least held their noses/comments so as to not alienate those voters), let down your guard for just a moment and listen to your heart. We all make mistakes. We are all human.

If you have forgotten a candidate who did not renounce endorsements by racist, terrorist organizations, while deflecting media inquiries about the lack of renunciation, let down your guard for just a moment and listen to your heart. We all make mistakes. We are all human.

If you are a proud Southerner (as I am), but have been swayed by arguments that the monuments & flags of the defeated Confederacy are your heritage and have not been twisted for the purposes of being racist and used for intimidation, let down your guard for just a moment and listen to your heart. We all make mistakes. We are all human.

Real Americans, join hands!We all make mistakes, out of anger, me included. However, we are approaching a moment from which our country will be unable to turn back. America will become that country that gave way to dark forces, which the world WILL rise to defeat, after much noble sacrifice. Generations of Americans, decades, if not centuries from now, will have to hang their heads in shame, when discussions of the coming war arise.

I implore you to let go and search your soul, without blaming yourself, to find the good person I know you to be. Then speak up against the hatred and violence, AND all politicians that are complicit. American politics is not a game, like football. Sometimes, it’s okay for your team to lose, if it makes the country better and your children safer.

It was the silence of very good people and an anger and frustration that had been building for decades, that caused a good country to lose its way, just 80 years ago. An extremist minority there, thought they were justified, in their anger and hatred and lit a fuse that devastated a generation worldwide. They thought their country to be invincible and it almost was. If only their good people had risen up to say, “No! This is wrong! The demagogue speaking now, does NOT speak for me!” then perhaps history would have been different.

It is easier to put out a torch than a forest fire.

We need your good voice, before it is too late.

July 2017 Sales Numbers

Bolt EV Take-OffJuly 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were mostly down with a couple up slightly, and the Chevy Bolt EV jumping up 20%, as it continues it’s rollout across the U.S. The image to the left shows the adoption curves of the plug-in vehicles I track, including the original Prius (non-plug-in). As can be seen, the Bolt EV has outperformed them all, over the first eight months of availability, even though it is still not available in all states yet!

For the last three years, July has been a pretty good month for me. This July was pretty good as well, mainly due to my Bolt EV customers’ orders beginning to arrive. My final Bolt EV sale of the month is an interesting story. The daughter of the dealership’s owner gets a new demo vehicle, about every six months. She could pretty much have any vehicle here, but her last two choices had been Volts (fully loaded Premiers). In July, she decided to purchase a vehicle: The Bolt EV. Stay tuned. I hope to have a video interview with her soon.

I mentioned last month that the 2018 Volt was about to go into production. Production has started and my first two 2018 Volts have been built! More on that in a later post…

July 2017 EV Sales NumbersHere are the July 2017 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 13% (1,518 vs. 1,745)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 20% (1,971 vs. 1,642)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 15% (1,283 vs. 1,506)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 2% (1,645 vs. 1,619)
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 39% (1,425 vs. 2,350) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 25% (1,650 vs. 2,200) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 6% (601 vs. 567)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 1% (703 vs. 707)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: DOWN 10% (844 vs. 936)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: DOWN 26% (43 vs. 58)

In July, the average price of gasoline was about the same as the previous month, $2.27. It bottomed out on the 4th of July, at $2.22, but rose 11 cents per gallon over the rest of the month, ending at $2.33.

My Sales By MonthAs I mentioned earlier, July 2017 marked my first Bolt EV sales. In the graph above, the largest bar for June and July is red, representing a tie for best July ever and the best June I have ever had. But notice its size, compared to all the other red bars for 2017. Things are getting better???

Vehicle Sales By ModelMy July sales were comprised of six Bolt EVs, three Malibus (still no, not hybrids), and a Volt . As in June, I did not sell a single Silverado pickup, so the Volt continues to be my most popular vehicle, but the Bolt EV has already surpassed my career sales of four other vehicles: the City Express van, Sonic, Spark and Trax.

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were mixed.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 37% (1,518 vs. 2,406) **2017 model year ended, awaiting 2018?
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in July 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 21% (1,283 vs. 1,063)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 41,025% (1,645 vs. 4) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last July
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 34% (1,425 vs. 2,150)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 120% (1,650 vs. 750)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 59% (601 vs. 1,479)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 48% (703 vs. 1,341)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 12% (844 vs. 755)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in July 2016)

Click baiting EV fans

Recently, there was a headline on several sites (even some that specialize in EV news) that GM’s Orion Township facility, where the Chevy Bolt EV is manufactured, was on an extended vacation shutdown, due to poor Bolt EV sales. Of course, as reported earlier, 8,171 Bolt EV’s have been sold, in it’s first 6+ months of availability and it still is not available nation-wide yet! That is better than any other vehicle I currently track, including the original Toyota Prius! Here’s how they rank, in their first 7 months of availability:

  • Bolt EV – 8,171
  • Prius (original) – 6,401
  • Prius Plug-in – 6,082
  • BMW i3 – 5,079
  • C-Max Energi – 3,951
  • Leaf – 3,894
  • Volt – 3,071
  • Model S – 2,650
  • Model X – 2,614
  • Fusion Energi – 2,591

Admittedly, the market has matured and expectations are higher. Some of these vehicles were manufactured, more or less, by hand and not in a mass production mode. The concept of a hybrid or electric vehicle isn’t as new or strange as when the more venerable of these vehicles debuted. But the Bolt EV isn’t even available nationally yet and it’s death knell is already being sounded?!?!?

I used to work for Apple, while Steve Jobs was still alive. I got to experience this from the inside, regarding the iPhone. Remember the iPhone “Antenna-gate scandal?” No? That’s because it was what came to be know an “click bait.” For those unaware of the term, click-bait is a bold headline, meant to convince the person seeing it to click on the link, to read the article. The reason for this, is to sell ads. The user, clicks on the link and the website hosting the story gets paid pennies for the ads that are presented alongside the article. Those pennies can add up to big money and did, whenever the “scandle” was Apple-related. Both Apple fan boys (of which I consider myself a member) and Apple haters would jump on the link to see the “news.” (I’d use the term “fake news,” had it not become so disreputable, recently…)

Well, EV and plug-in hybrid fans are at least as rabid as Apple fans. I often direct people, considering one of these fabulous vehicles, to the Facebook pages that have sprouted up for them. Nothing sells an EV like someone who owns one! Those same EV fans, just like the Apple fans before them, pounce on the click-bait articles, generating revenue for the sites posting the questionable articles and then repost them on Facebook to debate their veracity, whether through fear or indignation. This just fuels the fire and rewards the people posting the questionable articles, in the first place, reinforcing their crappy journalism by rewarding it.

In the real world of wanting to be the first to scoop the rest of the world, this probably cannot be helped. It’s not a new phenomenon…

Remember when?

The Bolt EV “news” was rebutted by a person who actually works at the plant. They said that the vacation/shutdown was extended to retool the line to produce more Bolt EVs at the detriment of Chevy Sonic production. The Sonic, for those unaware of it, is a very low-priced, small four-door sedan, which isn’t selling well, during these times of low cost gasoline.

Another recent “news story,” that I deem as click bait, include the UAW being in talks with GM about ending the production of “6 passenger cars.” The reason stated for this is that, with people buying large trucks and SUVs instead of cars, UAW members working at plants that produce cars are being financially hurt by extended vacations, lack of overtime, etc.

One of the offshoots of the above-mentioned UAW/GM story, is that it is predicted that the Chevy Volt would be a victim of this in 2020.

I’m a major fan of the Chevy Volt. We have had five of them so far, in our household. You’re probably aware of that.

I was not perturbed by the story at all, for a several reasons:

  • The American public has an incredibly short memory, when it come to vehicles. Every time gas prices go down, we forget the struggle of high gas prices/gasoline shortages. Demand is a pendulum. Americans go back and forth, between small, fuel-efficient vehicles and large, not-so-efficient SUVs (remember Hummers?). All it takes is a war in an oil-rich area or for the effects of climate change to become apparent and the pendulum will swing back.
  • Every day, I get to see people drive a Bolt EV or Volt for the first time. I see them light up over the acceleration, the silence and how inexpensive they are to operate, even when considering how cheap gas is.
  • I interact daily online, with owners of EVs and plug-in hybrids and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that 99% of these people will never, ever go back to an exclusively gasoline-powered vehicle. I call this the “stickiness” of EVs. It’s sort of like the Hotel California, in that (paraphrasing) “you can check out any time you like, but you won’t ever leave.
  • Finally, it was the 2020 prediction of the Volt’s demise. I’m completely cool with that. In 2020, the Volt will be ten years old. Advances in battery technology, as well as the expected roll-out of faster charging infrastructure, makes me hope it’s true. There should be no reason for plug-in hybrids to exist, after 2020! Some other incarnation of the Volt, one that’s fully electric, should bring about the retirement of this wonderful GM creation. (Personally, I’m hoping for a fully-electric, two-seat convertible roadster…that I can afford)

So, don’t fret. Someone once said there’s a tipping point coming that most people, pundits included, don’t foresee.

The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

June 2017 Sales Numbers

June 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were evenly split, between those showing an increase in sales versus a decrease. June has always been a good month for me. Families have gotten through graduations, tax refunds have been received, vacations (when people would like a new, reliable vehicle) are coming up. So far this year has been very challenging, with regards to my sales. June was a huge success, with this June being the best June I’ve ever had. Hallelujah!!!

One exciting bit of news in June 2017 was Bolt EV and eAssist Silverado hybrid pickup arrivals began in Texas! This was a little over a month ahead of GM’s announced schedule for Bolt EV and none too early for those of us who transferred to the EV & Hybrid Sales Center at the dealership. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw failed me. Tim, another salesperson in Electric Avenue, had two of his Bolt EV orders arrive before any of my orders did. I was disappointed that one of my clients wasn’t the first one to receive a Bolt EV, but such is life. I ended up delivering my first two Bolt EVs on July 1st, in the pouring rain. We now have more Bolt EVs on site than any other dealer in Texas. In fact, more than twice as many!

Another June news item: The 2017 Volt model year, which lasted 1-1/2 calendar years, is coming to an end. I ordered a 2nd Volt for a client of mine (yes, they re-Volted), expecting it to be a 2017. Our Inventory Manager called me to let me know all Volt orders, starting with that one, will be for the 2018 model year (more on that, soon).

That particular Volt client is an interesting sales story. He and his family live in Midland, Texas, which is 320 miles away from my dealership. In March 2015, his daughter had called Chevy dealerships all around Texas, looking for a good deal on a Malibu. I won. She drove in, with her boyfriend, and we all had a GREAT time together. We had dinner, a few tequilas… Anyway, when she got home, she told her dad about me and said, “The next time you’re looking at new cars, you’ve got to go see Buzz!” In June of last year, her dad had become very interested in the Chevy Volt, after reading lots of articles about it. He mentioned this to his daughter and she told him, “You aren’t going to believe this, but that’s what Buzz and his wife both drive! He’s crazy about the Volt!” Her dad called me, ordered a Volt, in July, and picked it up in early September. He has been the only Volt client of mine to purchase the spare tire kit, because he didn’t want to have a potential blowout strand him on the long way home, in the West Texas heat. Recently, he and his wife ordered another Volt, which will be the first 2018, which I mentioned above.

June 2017 EV Sales Numbers

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

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 4% (1,745 vs. 1,817)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 5% (1,642 vs. 1,566)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 8% (1,506 vs. 1,392)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 15% (1,619 vs. 1,908)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 45% (2,350 vs. 1,620) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 27% (2,200 vs. 1,730) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 12% (567 vs. 506)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 29% (707 vs. 1,000)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: DOWN 1% (936 vs. 950)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: DOWN 23% (58 vs. 75)

In June, the average price of gasoline was down 3% compared with the previous month, dropping steadily, throughout the month. It had dropped 2% during the month prior. This is not helpful for those of us selling plug-in vehicles!.

My Sales By WeekAs I mentioned earlier, June 2017 was my best June ever. In the graph above, the largest bar for June is red, representing June 2017. But notice its size, compared to all the other red bars for 2017. This shows exactly what kind of disaster 2017 has been for me, through May. I hope June is the start of business picking up…

My June sales were comprised of six Volts, three Malibus (no, not hybrids), a Tahoe and an Equinox. I did not sell a single Silverado pickup, so the Volt continues to be my most popular vehicle, pulling away from the pack.Buzz's Vehicle Sales By Model

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were also mixed evenly.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 10% (1,745 vs. 1,937)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in June 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 37% (1,506 vs. 1,096)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 14,618% (1,619 vs. 11) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last June
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 27% (2,350 vs. 3,700)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 3% (2,200 vs. 2,145)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 7% (567 vs. 608)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 58% (707 vs. 1,700)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 49% (936 vs. 630)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in June 2016)

A full house! Everything’s wild!! (video)

Hybrids & EVs IN STOCK!I have been waiting a very long time for today. I changed careers to help inform the world about plug-in vehicles and see what I’m doing as a crusade to save the planet. I wasn’t surprised to see that most Chevrolet salespeople don’t care about Volt or Bolt EV. It didn’t take long, in this new field, to see how profit margins, commissions, etc, all combine to incentivize a salesperson to not sell one of these awesome vehicles.

I slogged along, in the beginning, with experienced car salespeople wondering what I was doing here. Slowly, I built a following. Not everyone bought from me, but almost anyone I spoke with, recognized my passion and knowledge for the Volt & Bolt EV. I’ve sold everything Chevrolet makes, in order to make a living, but my coworkers tell me I have a “certain glow” or smile, when I’m in a Volt/Bolt EV deal.

Roadsign Tom Buzz web

Tom Durant, the top dog at Classic Chevrolet & Buzz

I pitched the idea of installing chargers out where the inventory sits on display. I pitched the idea of an EV/Hybrid Sales & Education center, which became Electric Avenue. I used my experience at Apple to come up with a layout for the building and how educational sales could be made profitable by being quicker. Classic Chevrolet‘s owner, Tom Durant, has listened and spent an amazing amount of money, doing the things I needed to make our plug-in sales grow.

Now, although we opened the EV/Hybrid building back on February 4th, and we had found out, just 3 weeks before that we wouldn’t get the Bolt EV for another 6 months, I feel like we’re really opening for the first time.

The reason is, for the first time, we have every hybrid and EV that Chevy makes, in stock and ready to sell! Traditional hybrids, like the Silverado 1500 eAssist hybrid (which has a V8 engine as well as an electric motor) and the Malibu Hybrid, as well as the Volt plug-in, sequential hybrid and now, the Bolt EV. Adding to my joy, is the fact that the Bolt EV arrived a month earlier than GM had foretold, back in January, and that it is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.

Thanks for being a part of the journey.

Chevrolet’s eAssist Silverados arrive in Texas

eAssist at Electric AveThe 2017 eAssist Silverados have begun arriving. They are all Crew Cab LT Silverados with V8 engines and a battery pack about 1/10 the size of the Volt’s Battery pack. eAssist is a “mild hybrid,” meaning it does not get plugged in, but rather works like a traditional hybrid, like the Hybrid Malibu. eAssist Silverados all come with a tonneau/bed cover and are available in both two wheel drive- and four wheel drive configurations. The transmission is a ten-speed automatic. The EPA mileage estimate is 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway, which represents about a 13% increase in efficiency, when compared to V8 Silverados without eAssist.eAssist at Electric Ave