Has The Volt Suffered A Short With Consumers?
The sales figures for the Chevy Volt are down, raising red flags throughout the auto industry—especially during a time were Volt production has been ramped up.
A new study by CNW marketing, a private research firm that focuses its research on consumer motivations and decisions in automotive purchases, has been released showing that the potential buyers that GM is counting on are rapidly losing interest in the Volt. In March, 21% of Early Adapters said they were “very likely” to consider buying a Volt, while 38.1% said they were “likely” to do the same. Those numbers slipped to 14.6% saying “very likely” in July and 31.1% “likely.” Among EV Enthusiasts, reports the CNW study, the number of those likely or very likely to consider Volt fell from a combined 71% to 51% during the same four month timetable.
These findings have auto analysts worried. Even worse, when the auto analysts turned their attention to mainstream consumers, those not identified as EV Enthusiasts, only around 3% of mainstream car buyers were likely to consider the Volt.
OK, everyone just calm down. Interest is not being lost in plug in vehicles. With gas prices still hovering close to $4.00 a gallon in some markets even after a tap into US reserves, people still see plug in vehicles as a good investment and the wave of the future.
It does not take an advanced degree in political science and economics to see why sales of vehicles like the Chevy Volt are down. People cannot afford the price of the vehicles. The American/ world economy is not just bad, but very bad! With the yearly average house hold income in the United States staying steady at around $46,000 a Chevy Volt with an original sticker price of $41,000 is out of reach. Even with the price reduction of the Volt the new $39,995 sticker price is still too high and nearly double the price of a base Chevrolet Cruze compact, which does shares the same underpinnings as Volt. Oh, and forget about that tax credit incentive because that does not matter to most people when money is due up front, it takes time to process the tax credit, and the paperwork is a mile long.
Chevy officials defend the Volt’s high price tag by pointing to the complexity of the dual gas electric hybrid drivetrain. The Volt is capable of traveling 35 miles on battery power alone. That is less than half of the range of the Nissan electric vehicle, however, the Volt can shift to gas power and keep driving once its batteries run down. While this is great and it should be understood that innovative technology comes with a price, it does nothing to convince consumers to buy the Volt.
Even with the poor showing numerically GM officials remain confident that the Volt will meet their expectations; noting the Volt does not need to produce a wide appeal to reach sales targets. GM projects growth to 40,000 units in 2012 including both Volt and Ampera, the Volts overseas clone. Theres also the little fact that Volt production was shut down for a few weeks this summer to allow retooling of the plant to increase production of the Volt, which is drawing a lot of new customers into Chevy dealerships. A sales success? Not quite yet. But the Volt is still on a lot of peoples minds, no matter what “market research” says.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.