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Chevy Volt Sets Sales Record – But Misses Sales Goal

Chevy isn’t alone.

by on Jan.03, 2013

Gaining access to the carpool lanes has helped drive up Chevrolet Volt sales in California.

Sales of the Chevrolet Volt are expected to post a whopping gain when final figures for 2012 are released today – but despite setting a new sales record for plug-in hybrid technology the Volt still fell short of General Motors’ initial expectations.

Volt sales were up 239% through November to 20,858 and Chevrolet dealers are expected to have delivered at least 1,500 more of the extended-range electric vehicle in December, raising total sales for the year to more than 23,000 in the U.S. That doesn’t include variations of the Volt delivered in Europe or China.

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Despite the gain, Volt sales remain substantially below GM’s expectations. The Detroit maker initially had hoped to sell more than 40,000 Volts in the U.S. alone in 2012 but backed off that estimate several months ago after twice temporarily idling the Chevy plug-in’s assembly line.

In 2011 GM, sold 7,671 Volts undershooting its target of 10,000 units.


Chevy Volt Sales Short-Circuit

Volt falls behind both Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius Plug-in.

by on Dec.04, 2012

Sales of the Chevrolet Volt, left, fell behind the Nissan Leaf for the first time this year.

After charging up for the first 10 months of the year, sales of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid unexpectedly short-circuited last month.

Volumes fell to barely half of September and October levels – ensuring that Chevy will end 2012 selling barely half as many Volts as it had originally hoped for this year. The plug-in’s sales for November fell behind those of two key rivals, the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle and Toyota’s Prius Plug-in. But all three models appeared to lose some momentum despite the overall surge of the U.S. car market.

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Even so, Chevrolet officials downplayed last month’s weak performance and ascribed it to inventory issues. The maker has twice halted production at the Volt plant in Detroit since spring, most recently between mid-September and mid-October to re-tool the facility to also handle production of the next-generation Chevrolet Impala.


Are Battery Car Sales Charging Up?

Chevy Volt to set a record in August

by on Aug.30, 2012

Chevrolet Volt sales are gaining momentum -- apparently driven by the 2013 model's ability to get an HOV-lane sticker in California.

With the second anniversary of the launch of two critical battery-electric vehicles fast approaching, many observers have been questioning whether the public has been turned off to the costly technology.  There’s no question that the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf got off to a slow start.  And, when you add in less advanced battery technology, namely gas-electric hybrids, demand has clearly slowed since fuel prices hit their April peak.

Yet, despite recent, largely negative headlines highlighting plant shutdowns, recalls and other setbacks, there are signs that battery car sales may be charging up, after all.

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Perhaps the biggest sign of a turnaround has come from Chevrolet which is reporting that it expects sales of the Volt to top 2,500 by the time it closes the books on August.  That would be a tripling of sales compared to year-earlier levels – and a 10% jump from Volt’s previous record, the 2,289 sold in March of this year.


Fuel Prices May be Down – But Hybrid, Battery Car Sales Are Up

Demand surged 164% in June.

by on Jul.19, 2012

The surge in battery-based vehicle sales is being driven, to a large degree, by demand for Prius-badged vehicles like the V - shown here with Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.

With fuel prices taking an unexpected tumble since nearing an all-time peak in April, sales of pickups, SUVs and other lower-mileage models have begun bouncing back.  But a new study suggests that demand for electric vehicles and hybrids is anything but dead.

“With gas prices declining, sales of hybrid and electric cars have remained surprisingly resilient,” a report by Kelly Blue Book noted. In fact, sales of dedicated hybrid and alternative-energy vehicles surged more than 164% in June, the auto data tracking service noted.

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Nonetheless, the report cautions that with gas prices expected to continue their descent, hybrid and electric vehicle sales could slow.

However, today it appears as though the sales decline will be “relatively mild,” the report noted.  In the past, sales of alternative-energy vehicles have fallen rapidly once fuel prices hit a peak and began to tumble again.


Are Battery Car Sales Coming Unplugged?

Sales slide would be worse without new models.

by on May.03, 2012

Were it not for the new Prius Plug-in the battery car market might have come completely unplugged.

Is the battery car market losing its juice?  While it’s too soon to tell if the latest surge in gas prices has hit its peak buyers already seem to be rethinking the cost-benefit equation when it comes to plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles.

Indeed, were it not for the arrival of some new models, notably the Toyota Prius plug-in, the battery-car market might look like it was in risk of coming completely unplugged.

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Total sales came to somewhere just north of 3,600, industry analysts estimate.  The precise figure is hard to determine as Ford is not yet releasing numbers for its new Focus Electric, nor are smaller makers like Fisker Automotive and Coda providing data.

For the four makers that are providing sales numbers, the total for April came to just over 3,500, compared with 3,800 in March.  That works out to barely 0.3% of the total new vehicle market in April.


Chevy Sees No Impact on Volt Sales from Battery Lab Explosion

Fuel price surge actually a plus for sales, maker believes.

by on Apr.16, 2012

Chevy marketing chief Chris Perry introducing the 2013 Impala at the NY Auto Show.

An explosion at the General Motors battery lab is unlikely to have any impact on the newfound sales momentum of the Chevrolet Volt, contended the brand’s marketing chief.

The maker certainly has to hope so, considering the brief setback in sales that followed word of several fires involving Volt batteries following federal crash tests last year.  Demand for the plug-in hybrid slumped sharply during the first two months of this year – though sales rebounded in March as U.S. fuel prices soared towards record levels.

“They weren’t even testing a Volt battery,” said Chris Perry, vice president of global marketing for Chevrolet, during an appearance at a charity event in Detroit.

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GM appeared to have turned the corner with Volt in March when sales rose to 50% more than their previous peak due to a push to fill the pipeline to dealers across the country.  But last week’s explosion, which injured six employees – sending one to the hospital – has once again raised issues about
the dangers inherent in lithium-ion batteries.


What Gas Crisis? Auto Sales Still Gain Momentum

Buyers spending on fuel-efficient offerings at record pace.

by on Apr.03, 2012

Nissan scores an all-time sales record.

Undeterred by rising fuel price, new vehicles sped out of showroom during March at a rate the industry hasn’t seen since the start of the Great Recession.

Nissan North America sales hit an all-time high, while Audi had its 15th consecutive record month.  Toyota reported its highest March sales since 2008.  On a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, sales shot to 14.7 million for March, well in excess of the roughly 14 million most industry analysts are expecting for all of 2012.

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The question is whether the pace will continue. “I don’t expect it to,” cautions David Sullivan, of the consulting firm, AutoPacific, Inc. He fears the sharp rise in fuel prices will “choke things off” when potential buyers have to divert money from their new car budget to fuel.

But other analysts counter that, if anything, motorists may see that as reason to trade in.  Significantly, General Motors said it sold more high-mileage offerings than at any time in its history – vehicles getting at least 30 mpg on the highway accounting for 40% of its overall mix last month.  Small car sales, in particular, accounted for 29% of Ford Motor Co.’s overall sales – even though demand for the subcompact Fusion actually declined while sales of the compact Focus model were up by a third.


GM Shutting Down Volt Production for Five Weeks

But February sales showed 60% sales jump.

by on Mar.02, 2012

GM will temporarily down production of the Chevrolet Volt to bring inventory into sync with demand.

Facing a significant backlog of unsold inventory, General Motors will shut down production of the Chevrolet Volt for five weeks.

The maker has notified 1,300 workers at the GM plant in Detroit that they will be idled from March 19th through April 23rd while assembly operations at idled.  But the maker insists the latest setback is not a sign of long-term problems for the plug-in hybrid, noting that Volt sales in February jumped 70% over the prior month.

“We’re going to do what we need to the keep production in line with what the market demands,” said GM spokesperson Michelle Malcho.

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She noted that demand has been recovering in the wake of reports, late last year, that several Volt battery packs had caught fire following federal crash tests.  After briefly opening an investigation into the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Chevy Volt a clean bill of health when GM announced it would take several steps to further reduce the risk of battery problems. The maker has stressed there have been no such incidents involving Volts in real-world use.


GM Isn’t Giving Up on Volt

But maker unsure of demand.

by on Jan.12, 2012

GM hopes it has quelled concerns about with modifications to be made to the vehicle and its battery cooling system.

General Motors isn’t about to give up on the Chevrolet Volt, top company officials insisted this week, despite the battery-electric vehicle getting off to a slow start.

And they said they do not believe the plug-in hybrid suffered serious long-term damage after reports surfaced of fires following government crash tests of the Volt.

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Only a “handful or two” of Volts were turned in by customers after GM offered to take them back when the flap over the electric car’s safety surfaced last month, following a crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to Mary Barra, GM’s vice president of global product development.


GM Delaying Volt’s 2nd Shift – But Maker Claims Sales Still on Target

“We’re on target,” but the definition may be shifting.

by on Oct.07, 2011

Chevy will have to triple sales in the final quarter to meet sales targets for the Volt.

General Motors will delay until sometime during the second half of 2012 its plan to add a second shift at the Detroit plant producing its much-ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt.

The maker insists that even on a single shift it can meet the sales goals it has set for the plug-in hybrid for 2011 and the even more ambitious numbers it has targeted for next year.  But with retail sales still running slow, it appears GM may be leaving a bit of wiggle room in those figures as it races to triple sales of the Volt during the final three months of the year.

The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, known locally as Poletown, went down for an extensive changeover during the summer.  The factory, which produces vehicles for several GM brands, as well as the Volt, was to add a second shift this autumn and continue ramping up production of all those various models.

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But most of the attention has focused on the Volt.  The maker has said the Poletown plant would turn out 16,000 battery cars this year, including some sold abroad as the Opel Ampera.  The total also was to include at least one demonstrator vehicle for each of the 2,600 Chevy dealers in the U.S.  But the goal was to complete retail sales of 10,000 Volts in the States by year-end.