- Volt sales: 10 units
- Volt sales: 4 units
- Bolt EV sales: 20 units
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.
One 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.
Here are the September 2017 sales figures, compared to the previous month:
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 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.
Thanks to all who have helped me in this part of my journey.
Finally, 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!
Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money,” is a thoroughly researched, very detailed account of how small, tactical changes to laws have changed politics in our country. At a time when Americans are deeply disgusted with politics, it’s an interesting and important book.
I realize both sides of the political spectrum are using dark money to manipulate the masses and to frame today’s political discourse, but this book really explains how it has been done. It describes how our democracy has been stolen from us, with our approval. It explains how we, as a people have become so polarized, but more importantly, who (at least in the case of conservatives) is behind it and why.
The names involved include a who’s who of current political events, like Charles and David Koch, The DeVos family, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, as well as other names familiar to you.
My interest is in the current climate change debate and how we went from a point where the majority of Americans believed the scientific consensus to the current point of constant debate. Make no mistake, the same firms that confused the public about whether or not tobacco was harmful were involved in creating the confusion about global climate change. In fact, their slogan was “Doubt is our product.” And who pays these firms for their work? Why those who have been fined millions upon millions of dollars for damage to the environment and see rules preventing them from doing this as infringements on their freedom. Those who, to make an extra $7 million, reopened a gas pipeline they knew to “leak like swiss cheese,” killing two teenagers, when it exploded, resulting in a $298 million dollar civil judgement against them. Those whose employees, when they reported dumping of MERCURY onto the ground near rivers, were terminated for reporting the crime to management or the authorities. One instance of mercury dumping poisoned the fish for fifty miles downstream and made it into people who unknowingly ate those fish.
Did you know your politicians created a law allowing the very wealthy to place their children’s inheritances into trusts, where if the funds remained untouched for twenty years and the interest earned was donated to non-profit organizations, became a tax free inheritance? That doesn’t sound so bad, until it is uncovered that those same rich people created their own non-profit organizations which then distributed the interest earned to political campaigns, via donations to other non-profits, which removed their fingerprints from the funds. Some of the schemes were described by the officials trying to investigate them as “Russian nested dolls.”
It is one thing to confuse smokers into believing that the product they’re using isn’t killing them. That affects the users of tobacco and their families, but leaves the rest of us unscathed.
It is quite another thing to confuse the public into believing in “clean coal” or that global climate change is a “job killer” or is an evil plot by liberals to redistribute wealth from “doers” to “takers.” In this latter case, we all lose if we kill the planet.
Again, I believe both sides are doing this and the media is complicit, focusing on false “outrages” to keep the people of America distracted.
When will we wake up?
Will it be too late?
Where are the true statesmen/women?
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?
I had an interesting experience yesterday, involving a conversation during a Bolt EV sale, that I’d like to share with you.
The customer was ex-military. He was an F-15 pilot, who had served in the Afghanistan conflict. He is a really nice, intelligent guy and we hit it off, a while back, when he came in to discuss the Bolt EV. He decided to place an order and as is my usual method, I kept him apprised of its progress through the manufacturing and shipping process. He was very excited the day I emailed him to say his Bolt EV had arrived!
He had a 2014 Volt lease that was coming to an end, so once his new Bolt EV arrived, he waited a little bit to use up the remainder of his Volt lease. He came in on September 12th to pick up his Bolt EV and drop off his Volt.
As is customary, I asked him to test drive his new Bolt EV before we submitted the paperwork to acquire it. I took him on my usual test drive, which is focused on instruction about the vehicle, even though he’d just completed three years in the Volt. I always show off Sport Mode, L (on the shifter) and the regen paddle (on the steering wheel). I configure the driver information center (the display behind the steering wheel) to “Enhanced,” because it gives the driver quantified information about regen.
At one point, the customer said, “I really like the regen feature. I wish the Volt had had L in the first gen.” When I explained that increased regen, by running in L, has been around since the very first Volts, he was quite surprised.
Then he told me about his experience, getting the Volt. He had dealt with a different dealership whose sales staff really didn’t know about the car. He said, when he asked questions about buttons or functions, their responses were loaded with a lot of “I think…” rather than definitive answers. Some of the advice he had received turned out to be incorrect.
Although General Motors requires the sales staff to pass certain on-line and in-showroom training courses, there’s nothing quite like the experience of driving a plug-in vehicle every day. Otherwise, the information learned is almost anecdotal and can become confused in the salesperson’s mind. If you’re going to buy a pickup, SUV, Camaro or Corvette, just about any dealer will suffice. Most salespeople can easily discuss rear axle gear ratios, torque, Magnetic Ride Control, towing capacity, etc, because they’ve been discussing it (and living it) for years. However, plug-in vehicles are a new thing to most of them.
Another client story was about a clueless salesperson, in the DFW area, that turned him off on the Volt. However, during a trip to Austin, he met a very well-informed female salesperson who could tell him, in great detail, all about the Volt, so he got one.
The most egregious violation, by a salesperson, that I’ve heard so far was posted in a Bolt EV group on Facebook. A buyer was told they could add the optional DC Fast Charging capability after the purchase! I don’t recall if the angry customer, who bought the Bolt EV and later tried to get DCCFC added, ever stated why the salesperson lied. Perhaps all their dealership had is stock were units withoud the option and they needed a sale…
These new vehicles aren’t your dad’s Chevys (unless you’re my daughter, Zoe). They have amazing features and capabilities that need to be shared with those new to the plug-in world. Without this depth of knowledge, a potential customer may walk away from a plug-in vehicle, because no one made a good benefit analysis for the customer. If the customer buys anyway, they won’t get all the benefit of these amazing vehicles or worse, they may get bad advice and actually end up hating their vehicle because they don’t understand it.
If you’re a seasoned plug-in vehicle owner, it isn’t quite as important, where you purchase your new plug-in. However, if you’re a newbie and want the best out of your investment, walk out of any dealership, if the salesperson a) tries to talk you into a vehicle they understand better, b) denigrates your vehicle of choice to switch you away from it or c) doesn’t seem to know much about the vehicle in which you’re interested.
Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.
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.
The 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.
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!
As 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!
My 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.
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.