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A quick check on
on electric vehicles for August seems to lead to more questions than answers. Though
sold an August record of 2,813 Chevy Volts, a push by dealers to clear vehicles ASAP could be a foreboding sign. Sales of Nissan (
) Leafs moved back higher, up 75% M/M, but are still are a just a shadow of their high-flying days from a year ago. Meanwhile, Toyota (
) moved a solid 750 plug-in Prius vehicles in August, while Mitsubishi's (
) EV sales lagged. As for Tesla Motors (
), the focus is still on supply instead of demand.
View news story
AutoRetailNet wondered if the Volt shutdown showedthat the concept was stumbling- so we surveyed GM and EV dealers. The survey registered a surprising amount of confidence in GM's controversial extended-range EV
A Chevrolet dealer in Texas says “we can't sell them here” and thought that sales wouldn’t increase next year. “The fad has worn off..” he said.
The dealer said he thought the concept was 5-6 years early – and the product way too expensive.
But that wasn’t the majority opinion of 36 General Motors and EV dealers who responded to the survey. Almost two thirds (64.3 percent) expect Volt sales to increase next year. Most think that the concept is right for the times – with 74.1 percent agreeing with the statement that “the market is ready for this” and only 14.4 percent saying that the timing is wrong.
An impressive 63 percent agree that it is a “very good execution of the concept” (when offered five options including just “good”).
“Class leading technology” and “great technology to sell” were typical comments.
“It brings in a customer we would not otherwise see and shows GM to be a technology leader,” said one dealer. “Having revolutionary technology in a Chevrolet helps the entire line-up” said another.
“We use a Volt as a dealership customer shuttle, best thing we ever did!” was another dealer comment. The only area where a majority of dealers were critical was the price – 53.6 percent thought it was too high.
“It's $10,000 more than I'd like it to be, but there's a real cost to the technology," said one dealer. "I wish it was priced lower, but I understand why it isn't.”
That may be a barrier to sales. As one dealer pointed out, “poor people are affected by gas not wealthy ones”
Some dealers blamed politics for the question marks being raised against the vehicle.
“Some people want to put GM down since the bailout," said a respondent. "Has nothing to do with the facts.”
“Why all the contrived bad press on the Volt?” said another. “It's the very best in true electric cars with by far the longest total driving range in the industry. And the dealers see an opportunity there too.
“They should of come out of the gate with a great lease,” said one. "Now it’s a late night tv joke."
The Volt is clearly a car that divides opinion – but most of its dealers seem to love it, and say that their customers do too.
“The Volt is starting to catch on as customers do the selling to their friends and neighbors” said one dealer. There are “few real competitors in this segment” he said. "If gas prices spike again, this will become a runaway hit.”
Sep 7 12:34 AM
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