Plug-in newbie advice

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.

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)

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

Huge tracts o’land!

***NEWS FLASH!***

Texas is big. I know, you’ve heard that somewhere before. But here’s the deal: To understand the scale of today’s post, you have to understand the scale of Texas. Driving from Texarkana, in the northeast to El Paso, in the west, takes 11-1/2 hours and covers a distance of 814 miles. A trip from Texline, near the northwest corner of the panhandle to Brownsville, at the southern tip of Texas is a 13 hour drive, spanning about 900 miles.

Texas

Click on image for a larger view.

Here’s a map of the trip I took last weekend:

Lubbock to DFW mapThe city, at the left terminus of the route, is Lubbock, Texas. The large metropolitan area on the far right side is the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex (DFW). The time it takes to drive from DFW to Lubbock is approximately five hours and is a journey of 335 miles (each way). My wife and I drove, from DFW to Lubbock and back again, this past weekend, to take our daughter Zoe, to college.

Buzz in heaven

Buzz in heaven

Notice the red curve, on each of the above maps? That is the subject of today’s post. The red curve is the drive from Justiceburg at the north end of the red road to Sweetwater at the south end. It’s about an hour’s drive, running 67 miles, give or take.

That area of North Texas is primarily farm land and rocky, dry wilderness that looks like this:

Wide Open Spaces

It is interesting, if somewhat monotonous scenery. Something I enjoy doing, on road trips through Texas, is to stop and read historical markers. Normally, Bonnie (my wife) hates this, but this time she obliged my “hobby.”

PostGenerally, Texans are fascinated by their state’s varied history: The Alamo, the battle of San Jacinto, Bonnie & Clyde, NASA, Judge Roy Bean, Spindletop and more. Now that Bonnie (my wife, not the Bonnie of bank robbing fame) and I are empty-nesters, we can take a more leisurely approach to road trips. The first stop for us was just north of Post, Texas. The town was named after C.W. Post, of whom, you may have heard (see historical marker, to the left). Yes, the maker of Post Toasties liked to explode dynamite from kites to try to produce rain with the goal of ending droughts!

Texas history has had lots of colorful characters.Post, Texas Picnic Area

Shortly after resuming our drive, we spotted something amazing on the horizon: a wind farm. Actually, it was the northern tip of a gigantic wind farm. It wasn’t my first sight of one though. Back in February 2013, I stopped to check out a wind farm, in Indiana, while on my way to the Chicago Auto Show. I thought it was an amazing sight, with over 55 wind turbines!

Escarpment panorama

You’ll want to click on this image.

This time was different.

The northern edge of this wind farm was perched, on the edge of an escarpment. This is a desirable location, due to the wind swooping up, over the escarpment, which concentrates the wind energy. The area we were driving through had lots of these long, steep cliffs, making it a good area to harvest wind energy. It also had been a good area in which to drill for oil and gas. Old & New EnergyWe saw many, many jack pumps, rocking slowly, up and down. What was different this time, compared to the wind farm I saw in 2013, was its size and the number of wind turbines. We saw wind turbines constantly, for at least 60 miles. They numbered in the thousands! The stretch of highway, marked in red in the maps above, show how far we traveled with wind turbines within sight. No photograph could do justice to the vista that stretched out before us. We were in awe!Volt WindFarm 75

In the photo above, at much higher resolution, I was able to count 75 wind turbines. I got curious about the extent of this collection of this wind farm, so I looked at satellite imagery, once I got home.

Wind turbines from above

Click for MUCH larger image

In the image above, you can easily spot the wind turbines, due to the shadows they cast. Much of the land around the turbines is farmland. For each turbine, there is a small gravel drive and pad, surrounding it. Beyond that, farmers are growing crops. This has to be a financial boon to the farmers with no negatives, like possible crop contamination. Here’s a closer view:Satellite zoomed

In satellite imagery, of this area of Texas, one can observe both the wind turbines as well as jack pump sites. Many Texans seem to like the image of the old, oil and gas jack pump, but I have to admit loving the beauty, grace and spectacle of the gigantic wind turbines.

Times change.Old & New

A journey of a thousand miles…

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

August 3rd, 2012, five years and ten days ago, I took that first real step, into the life I’m enjoying today.

this morning, I was going through some old emails and found a reminder of how my electric vehicle journey began. It all started with me reaching out to Jerry Reynolds of Car Pro Radio Networks to ask advice. He had given me great advice before, so I was going back to the well.

Here’s my email to him:

Email #1Jerry’s reply:email #2(Note: The GM Jerry mentioned, Eric Bryant, was the guy who commented, 14 months later, that I should be working at Classic Chevrolet! Hank, my current manager, hired me a few days after Eric’s comment was made, even though I had no car sales experience.)

My update to Jerry:email #3

Not knowing anything about blogging, I started blogging almost immediately, because of my love for my new car. (Be nice!)

His final reply:These days, I am a recognized EV and hybrid sales expert at Classic Chevrolet and working alongside another great EVangelist, Tim Stewart, in a building dedicated to EV and hybrid vehicle sales and education, that we’ve nicknamed “Electric Avenue.”

On the day Electric Avenue opened, Jerry interviewed me about it.

And it all started with the single step of asking advice about a car…

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.