Having listened to GM explain the Volt’s cautious roll out all year, and most recently its reduced July sales, it has been reminiscent of hearing doctors making positive predictions for an injured star ball player – who just recovered from surgery.
More to the point, this week GM’s spokespeople preemptively contacted media prior to official July sales results explaining only one hundred Volt sales were expected. As it turned out, Chevrolet beat their number with 125 Volts sold in July.
In getting this background context delivered ahead of time, it was been kind of like hearing, “The kid has just started walking, but he’ll be out running for the end zone before you know it” … or something along those lines.
It is all understandable though. Considering the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant was shut down for upgrades for four weeks until earlier this month, Chevrolet wanted everyone to know the Volt had been down for the count, but indicators are it is just waiting to rebound with a new lease on life.
The bottom line, GM said, is it was all planned – and the positive news is demand has been relatively high.
“Volt sales are exactly as we expected as we shut down production in June and July to revamp the plant to increase Volt production in 2012,” said GM spokesperson Michelle Bunker. “We are ‘virtually sold out’ – only about 100 2011 Volts are left in stock – or one per every six dealers.”
Chevrolet built 3,975 Volts for the 2011 model year, she said, with about 550 of these being assigned as dealer demos. To date, 3,200 have sold, and 125 are being used for internal uses, such as for engineering, marketing, training and media sampling – speaking of which, GM-Volt is (finally) supposed to have one of these remaining 2011 media Volts trucked down to Pennsylvania from New York on Aug. 11 for a one-week review. I am looking forward to it …
As for regular waiting consumers in selling markets, on average, Bunker said, including time required to prep for delivery, this year Volts spent about 13 days in the dealership before being taken by a new customer.
And the really good news for Volt enthusiasts is the kid will soon be out running for the touchdown, er, that is, the Volt will soon be selling in far higher volumes.
“As a result of the plant upgrades, planned Volt and Ampera production capacity this year will increase to 16,000 units. In 2012, global production capacity is expected to be 60,000 vehicles with an estimated 45,000 to be delivered in the United States,” Bunker said.
Bunker said since June 10, dealers nationwide were able to enter orders for 2012s, and it is hoped increased availability will ameliorate the up-till-now situation whereby dealers have been asking for more than Chevrolet was able to deliver.
“Our dealers have requested allocation four to seven times the numbers which were available each month since launch,” she said, which put in a positive light meant, “Each month we were able to see demand from our participating dealers.”
So, we have been hearing of limited supply, but strong demand all year. Last week Volt Line Director, Tony Posawatz conceded GM underestimated Volt demand, but the question is what will it take to catch up to real automotive industry level sales numbering in the thousands and tens of thousands, instead of hundreds?
A snapshot of Chevrolet aggregate numbers illustrates this point.
In brief, July marked the 11th straight month of retail gains and they are being driven by fuel-efficient vehicles.
Overall, Chevrolet sold 149,005 vehicles in July, for a 6-percent increase over the same month a year ago. Looking at just retail sales, Chevrolet reported a 9-percent increase in July.
Chevrolet noted the 32-mpg Equinox increased 73 percent, and its retail sales were up by 75 percent – this also marked the 11th consecutive month of gains for this compact crossover.
Calendar year to date, Equinox total sales are up 47 percent and retail sales are up 59 percent, Chevrolet said, noting this accomplishment as “significantly outpacing its top competitors, the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV-4, and Honda CR-V.”
Chevrolet also observed that Edmunds.com recently named the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox the Lowest Annual True Cost to Own® SUV between $25,000 and $35,000, based on projected ownership costs over a five-year period, assuming 15,000 miles driven per year.”
Driving toward a Voltec future
Now that the Detroit-Hamtramck plant is upgraded, and poised to deliver 5,000 Volts and Amperas per month by January, supply will no longer be the reason given for lack of Volt sales. Or will it?
GM has said it is unwilling to divulge whether it could or would increase mid-year production even further if demand rises beyond capacity again.
In the mean time, we are waiting to see what new Voltec-based model is next to spread the appeal for this new kind of powertrain. Increasing variety for a public that GM said has been demanding fuel efficiency for almost a year straight would appear to be a wise decision.
Any guesses as to what will be next? Will GM launch just one new Voltec model? Two? More?
What is the smartest thing GM could do to increase Voltec proliferation without realizing its fear of spreading itself too thin?
Do you think if GM went wild like some enthusiasts might like, and churned out more models it could over do it? Strategically, is it better for GM to keep a number of people waiting, rather than over-meeting demand and risking large numbers remaining unsold?
And for that matter, we know the readers of this site love the Volt, but think like a business: how much demand is really out there? GM plans on producing 60,000 Volts worldwide for calendar year 2012 and has made no announcements of other Voltec-based models. If it worked on improved marketing to really draw in all the new customers possible, how many Volts, or Voltec-based derivatives could it sell per year?
This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.