The writing’s on the wall?

wall writing

Just a quick scan of news sites helped me put together a list of countries who have announced an end date for gasoline- or diesel-powered car sales:

  • China (no date set)
  • India 13 years from now
  • France 23 years
  • Britain 23 years
  • Norway 8 years
  • Scotland 15 years
  • Netherlands 8 years

These countries have set EV sales targets, but no end date has been set for gasoline- and diesel-powered passenger vehicle sales to end…yet.

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Denmark (I could have sworn they set a date)
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Portugal
  • Korea
  • Spain

Trendsetters (click for larger image)

Geographically speaking, the map above may not seem impressive, but in 2016, the countries mentioned above, represented 62.9% of all passenger vehicle sales for the entire planet!* (I was a bit surprised by that)

Here’s how they stack up:

  • China 35.1%
  • Japan 6%
  • Germany 4.8%
  • India 4.3%
  • Britain 3.9%
  • France 2.9%
  • Korea 2.2%
  • Spain 1.7%
  • Netherlands 0.6%
  • Austria 0.5%
  • Denmark 0.3%
  • Portugal 0.3%
  • Norway 0.2%
  • Ireland 0.2%
  • Scotland (included in Britain’s percentage)

China’s the big dog (both geographically and in percentage of cars sold), at 35.1%. The next in line, at least as far as the countries listed above go, is Japan, at 6%. May be that’s why Mary Barra’s comment about China’s decision seems to have been toned down, recently… Heck, the U.S. is only 9.9%. As such, the U.S. is the largest country, in passenger vehicle sales volume, that hasn’t posted an end date for ICE vehicles or plans to do so.

This brings a few questions to mind:

  • If the stated goals are upheld, what happens to the price of gasoline?
  • If gas prices collapse, wouldn’t that dramatically reduce the number of gas stations. accelerating the switch, globally?
  • Will pre-owned gasoline- & diesel-powered cars become valuable collectibles or, due to the lack of gas stations, junkyard fodder?
  • Will we finally see people change careers from fossil fuel industries (dangerous to both workers and the environment) to renewable energy careers, accelerating change?
  • Has the United States’ time, as a world leader, ended for good, now that China’s and India’s middle classes are rising in purchasing power, while ours is being decimated by income inequality? Are we cool with that?
  • Has Fiat decided to just roll over and die?

*according to sales statistics from The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

Bolt EV’s effect on Volt sales

Bolt EV vs. VoltThis is not good news for fans of the Chevy Volt. My Volt sales have dropped 60%, since the introduction of the Bolt EV. Here’s how it looks:
3-1/2 months before Bolt EV arrived:
  • Volt sales: 10 units
3-1/2 months after Bolt EV arrived:
  • Volt sales: 4 units
  • Bolt EV sales: 20 units
Some of this was pent up demand for the Bolt EV, which didn’t arrive in Texas until seven months, after it’s debut in California and Oregon. However, two of the Volts I sold were due to customers, who wanted the Bolt EV, switching to Volt because they found the seats uncomfortable in the Bolt EV. If not for that, the score would have been 22 to 2!
My last 5 Volt orders (for inventory) were scheduled to be built the week of 11/6/2017. The build dates just changed on these to 1/15/2018.
Ultimately, consumers will decide the fate of the Volt. It’s starting to look like people are MUCH more interested in going fully electric and waiting for infrastructure to get built instead of going with the Volt, which doesn’t need infrastructure build-out.

September 2017 Sales Numbers, an anniversary and a goodbye

September 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were mostly up, over the previous month.

For the last two years, September has been a pretty average month for me. This September was not as good as the two previous Septembers, but didn’t miss the previous one by much.

EV Sales NumbersOne other graphic, which I’ve shown before, is a zoomed in look at adoption rates (see below). The Bolt EV and plug-in Prius are the only vehicles I track that have seen a greater adoption rate than the original Prius. The plug-in Prius outpaced its ancestor for its first 15 months of availability, but did not keep up that pace and faded away over time. Now that the next generation Prius Prime has debuted, adoption rates have once again picked up. The Bolt EV, on the other hand has stayed above the original Prius adoption rate for 9 months, with only its debut in December 2016, when it was only available in California and Oregon, scoring lower than the Prius. The Bolt EV now enjoys a lead of 4,606 units after 10 months of availability. No other vehicle has ever had that much of an advantage, over the original Prius’ adoption rate. Second place falls to the plug-in Prius, which at its maximum had a lead of 2,471 units. The Model S had risen to a better adoption rate than the original Prius in its 40th month of availability, only to fall behind and stay there. The Model X, has stayed within striking distance of the Prius adoption rate, exceeding it in months 16, 17, 19 and 25 (last month). If the Model X’s first 3 months hadn’t been so low-volume, it may have produced a curve similar to the Bolt EV’s trajectory.

As the Plug-in Prius shows, the Bolt EV adoption may fizzle out, or it may be the next major turning point in automotive history, living up to the original Prius’ prominent spot.

Only time will tell.Starting Gate

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

  • Chevy Volt: UP 1% (1,453 vs. 1,445)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 25% (2,632 vs. 2,107)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 9% (1,055 vs. 1,154)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 4% (1,899 vs. 1,820)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 126% (4,860 vs. 2,150) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 98% (3,120 vs. 1,575) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 7% (538 vs. 504)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UNCHANGED (763 vs. 762)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: DOWN 3% (683 vs. 705)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: DOWN 45% (36 vs. 66)

In September, the average price of gasoline started out around $2.61 per gallon, rising steadily until the 7th. After the 7th, prices continued to fall, with a minor bump up around the 28th, ending the month at it’s lowest point, below $2.55.

My Sales By MonthMy Bolt EV sales have hit the following milestones:

  • After only three months, Bolt EV sales have now equalled or exceeded my four-year sales totals for nine other Chevy vehicles.
  • As a percentage of all vehicles I have sold, in my four years at Classic Chevrolet, plug-in vehicles (Volt & Bolt EV, at 24%) have exceeded the percentage of my sales that was SUVs (23%), Trucks (20%) and Corvettes (10%).
  • The last three months of Bolt EV sales are about one-fourth of my four year Volt sales.
  • For 2017, three months of my Bolt EV sales have exceeded my Volt sales for all nine months of 2017 so far.

Vehicle Sales By ModelMy September sales were comprised of three Bolt EVs, one Silverado, one Cruze, one Colorado, one Spark and one Volt. Bolt is still the vehicle of the moment. Volt pulled away from pickups, once again, but the Bolt EV is gaining quickly. I am definitely seeing much more customer interest in the Bolt EV than I am in the Volt.

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

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 28% (1,453 vs. 2,031)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in September 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 20% (1,055 vs. 1,316)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 47,375% (1,899 vs. 4) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last September
  • Tesla Model S: UP 12% (4,860 vs. 4,350)
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 2% (3,120 vs. 3,200)
  • BMW i3: UP 38% (538 vs. 391)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 54% (763 vs. 1,652)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 1% (683 vs. 689)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in September 2016)

My Business CardThe anniversary: Today marks the fourth anniversary of my becoming an EVangelist at Classic Chevrolet. It’s been a fun ride so far, with many changes made (and more to come, I’m sure).

Thanks to all who have helped me in this part of my journey.

Easy Tradin' DaleFinally, the retirement of a legendary salesperson: “Easy Trading” Dale Bryant. Dale’s desk was in a prime spot, in the main showroom, right next to the front doors. He had been in car sales for decades and was well known in that field. He taught me a lot about the business, when I first came on board, but what amazed me the most was his memory for his clients’ faces. A person would walk in and although Dale had not seen them for months (maybe even years) he would always say, “Hi, Mr. ______! How have you been?” He never seemed to draw a blank on a name! He had been at Chevy long enough that he knew all sorts of trivia on each well-established model. He was a wealth of knowledge and advice. I’ll miss him.

Have a wonderful retirement, Dale!

Tax planning

IRS logoAs we’re about to enter the final quarter of the year, thoughts turn to the holidays and then…tax season. This year and next planning is especially important. The three top producers of plug-in vehicles, that qualify for the full $7,500 Federal Income Tax Credit for all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will probably hit their 200,000th unit sale in 2018. Depending on the modeling you employ, this could start happening as early as mid-year or closer to the end of 2018.

For the uninitiated, there is an income tax credit for those who buy (not lease) all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. But not all vehicles get the same tax credit. The amount of the tax credit is determined by the size of the battery pack. Also, it is important to understand the difference between a tax deduction (like the deduction for having a child, property taxes paid or mortgage interest paid) and a tax credit.

A tax deduction is a deduction off your income, so if you have a deduction, with a value of $2,000, it reduces your taxes by the deduction multiplied by your tax rate. It’s a little more complicated than that, due to how tax brackets affect the calculations, but this example is close enough for horseshoes or hand grenades. If your tax bracket is 25%, the tax deduction of $2,000 only reduces the taxes you owe by $500 ($2,000 X 25%).

A tax credit actually reduces your income tax by the stated amount of the credit. So, in the example above we used a value of $2,000. A tax credit would of that amount would reduce your taxes by $2,000. Easy, peasy. There are some other considerations, so consult your tax preparer.

The plug-in vehicle income tax credit phases out for a manufacturer’s vehicles over the one-year period beginning with the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter in which the 200,000th of their plug-in vehicles has been sold. Qualifying vehicles from that manufacturer are eligible for 50 percent of the credit ($3,750) if purchased in the first two quarters of the phase-out period and 25 percent ($1,875) of the credit, if purchased in the third or fourth quarter of the phase-out period.  After that point, the credit goes away completely.

Who are the three manufacturers that will be affected first? They are Nissan ( maker of the Leaf), Tesla Motors (maker of the Roadster, Model S, Model X and Model 3) and General Motors, (maker of the Cadillac ELR & CT6, Chevy Volt, Bolt EV and Spark EV).

So, in planning your taxes, if you want to make a purchase in 2017 and collect the tax credit when you file in 2018, you need to be working on that purchase now. If you want to order exactly what you want, it’s too late for a Tesla, since their waiting list is so long. For the current GM models, you should place your order no later than October 15th, as it usually takes eight weeks from order to delivery (depending on dealer allocation). Unfortunately, I do not know what the order cycle is for the newly redesigned Nissan Leaf.

If you want to make a purchase in 2018 and collect the tax credit when you file in 2019, you need to keep an eye on how the manufacturers are each progressing toward the 200,000 vehicle limit. As of last month, it shaped up like this:

  • Tesla Motors – 138,469
  • Nissan – 113,263
  • General Motors (Cadillac and Chevrolet) – 149,649

The Tesla numbers were based on estimates. I will endeavor, over the next year, to keep an eye on this and post my findings here.

Will the EV income tax credit punish the pioneers?

We’re approaching the 7th anniversary of mass-produced plug-in vehicles. Although the $7,500 income tax credit was expected to get 1,000,000 plug-in vehicles on the road quickly, we’re only about 2/3 of the way there, in the U.S. market. As of the end of last month, there were 686,192 plug-in vehicles that had been sold, in the U.S. Every single year, sales have increased. We are on track this year to possibly hit the 200,000 unit mark for the first time in a single year (depending on how December goes). December, due to year end sales promotions and the nearness to tax time, is always a very high production month.

This got me thinking about the pioneers and the stragglers.

The tax credit begins to go away, once a manufacturer sells their 200,000th plug-in vehicle. Three manufacturers are already well over 100,000 units sold: Tesla Motors, General Motors and Nissan. These are the manufacturers that paved the way for all the newcomers we’ve been reading about, with great expectation. However, they may be punished for their risk taking. When these three manufacturers hit the magic 200K units, the newcomers will have a distinct price advantage, as their customers will still be able to get the full tax credit, while the customers of the more established PHEV manufacturers will suddenly lose half the tax credit, a few months later 3/4 of it and shortly after that, all of it.

My question: Was this the strategy of the stragglers?

In the darker places of my mind, I can see a boardroom, where the executives are saying, “Let them take the risk! We can sit back and see how things develop. If PHEVs take off, we’ll be late to the game, but we won’t have paid the price of educating the consumers about them. Better yet, when the other guys lose the tax credit, we’ll have an amazing price advantage over them, giving us a huge leg up, into the market!”

I have complained about the implementation of the tax credit before. There were so many ways it could have been a much better tool to stimulate sales. It probably would have been a better stimulus, if the tax credit had been available until the total sales of all PHEVs in the U.S. reached a benchmark. For instance, if the goal of one million PHEVs had also been used as the end of the tax credit, the incentive would be to ramp up production much more quickly. To the bold would go the spoils! Stragglers would have the same tax credit available, but by dragging their feet, fewer of their vehicles would have qualified for it, because the pioneers would have gobbled much of it up. There would have been a race to produce quickly. Instead, we seem to have incentivized caution and failure to innovate.

I’m proud of the risks taken by the Big Three of PHEVs, but I am concerned about how they’ll fare, once they lose the tax credit and have to compete with competitors who have prices thousands of dollars lower than what they can successfully provide.

Disclaimer: I have had five Chevy Volts in my household. I love the Volt & Bolt EV (and Spark EV, Cadillac ELR, Tesla Model S, etc) so much, I changed careers to promote them. Part of my concern is definitely self-serving: How will I be able to sell, once the playing field is so badly tilted against me?

National Drive Electric Week 2017 #NDEW2017

It’s that time of year again: It’s National Drive Electric Week! Well…actually, it starts on September 9th and goes through the 17th. As bookends to the week, I will be at the NDEW2017 gathering at Grapevine Mills Mall on Saturday, September 9th. Form 10:00AM until noon, there will be a gathering of plug-in vehicle owners, supporters and the EV-curious. It’s a;ways a good time and I’ll have the Chevy Bolt EV and Volt with me.

On the last day of NDEW2017, Sunday the 17th, I will have Bolt EVs at “Run with the Sun,” in Irving, Texas. At that event, I plan to take people on test drives. There’s nothing like “butts in seats” to prove how great EVs are!Run with the SunI hope to see you at these great events!

August 2017 Sales Numbers

August 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were mixed. Ford and Hyundai have not yet released their sales figures, but I must plunge ahead.

For the last two years, August has been a pretty average month for me. This August was exceptionally good, mainly due to my Bolt EV sales. Eight of my 15 sales were Bolt EVs and over half of those were not ordered for the customer. In other words, the buyers were just shopping, test drove the Bolt EV and bought it on the spot!

On the first of September, The Dallas Morning News wrote a review of the Bolt EV that was very positive. Customers showed up that day to check them out and several are turning into sales or orders.

m and gThe 2018 Volt has started production and my first 2018 Volt order was delivered. The customers drive in from Midland, Texas to get their Volts from me (this is their second one). That’s over 320 miles. I am impressed and thankful.

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

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 5% (1,445 vs. 1,518)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 7% (2,107 vs. 1,971)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 10% (1,154 vs. 1,283)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 11% (1,820 vs. 1,645)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 51% (2,150 vs. 1,425) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 5% (1,575 vs. 1,650) **estimated
  • BMW i3: DOWN 16% (504 vs. 601)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 8% (762 vs. 703) **awaiting sales features
  • Ford C-Max Energy: DOWN 16% (705 vs. 844) **awaiting sales features
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: UP 53% (66 vs. 43) **awaiting sales features

In August, the average price of gasoline stayed about the same as the previous month, until gasoline shortages started appearing, due to Hurricane Harvey shutting down refineries along the Texas coast. It then spiked, in the last few days of the month, driving the average price up 10 cents per gallon!

My Sales By MonthAs I mentioned earlier, July 2017 marked my first Bolt EV sales. In the graph above, the largest bar for June, July and August is red, showing that the last three months are some of the best I have enjoyed in car sales. The Bolt EV has already passed up seven other vehicles I have sold, in volume. There are eighteen new vehicles I have sold in my career at Classic Chevrolet. The Bolt is already near my average number of sales, by vehicle type, and I’ve been selling it only two months so far!

Vehicle Sales By ModelMy August sales were comprised of eight Bolt EVs, three Silverados, two Traverses, and two Volts. I finally sold Silverado pickups again, as well as two Volts, which continues to be my most popular vehicle, although it lost a little ground to the Silverado last month.

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

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 31% (1,445 vs. 2,081)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in August 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 8% (1,154 vs. 1,066)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 90,900% (1,820 vs. 2) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last August
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 31% (2,150 vs. 3,125)
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 14% (1,575 vs. 1,833)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 50% (504 vs. 1,013)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 46% (762 vs. 1,422)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UNCHANGED (705 vs. 707)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in August 2016)