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.

Obsession defined

Movie PosterIt’s a Sunday evening and I’m going through my iTunes movie library, looking for something fun, with which to wind down my day. I select The World’s End, a comedy/sci-fi romp in England and I kick back to enjoy it. It starts out as a comedy about old friends getting together to reenact a pub crawl, which they were unable to complete, in their younger days. It’s a really fun movie, so I’m going to try to not spoil it for you.

In an attempt to get in the spirit of the movie, I had a couple…okay three beers, as I watched. Not very long before the end of the film, two of the pub crawlers are lying among three identical, parked cars, when I yelled out, “Those are Amperas!!!” to my wife.

Imaging an eye roll here… Here’s what I spotted, in a split second:Charge Port & logo movieNotice the charg port on the right hand side of the images above and below…Charge Port movieThat’s when my wife really started to doubt my sanity…again. I started rewinding and replaying this short sequence in the film, to assure myself that I wasn’t crazy (while proving to my wife that I was). I noticed familiar tail lights…Tail lights movie

Tail lights website

from the Vauxhall Ampera website

…and wheels:Wheels movie

Wheels website

from the Motor Trend review

Finally, the conclusive piece of evidence came, during the film’s credits:VauxhallThen, of course, I ran to my study to write this blog post.

Perhaps I should buy my wife some perfume…obsession

 

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)

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 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.