Luke Ottaway's picture

Chevrolet Volt sales take a dive in September - is the 2016 model to blame?

After a promising August, the Chevy Volt ended its 2014 streak of monthly sales increases with a disappointing September. Is the upcoming 2016 model responsible?
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It is not uncommon in the auto industry for an upcoming redesign to hurt sales of the outgoing model. GM must hope that is the case with the current Chevrolet Volt.

September sales of the Volt totaled just 1,394 units, down from a yearly high of 2,511 in August and a 21% drop from last September.

For the year, Volt sales are down over 13% from 2013. If that trend keeps up America’s most famous plug-in hybrid will finish the year with barely more than 20,000 units sold.

The blame game

Those looking for an explanation for the Volt’s recent slow sales could point the finger of blame at the car’s own successor. The much-anticipated 2016 Volt will be “better in every way,” according to company executives, and no doubt many eco-conscious buyers are holding off on purchasing a Volt until the upgraded model arrives in mid-2015.

Another contributing factor could be the rise of the Ford plug-in hybrids. As Volt sales have stagnated, the Ford Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi have been steadily improving in the last year and a half. Though the two Blue Ovals offer about half the all-electric range of the Volt, they come at a similar price point and offer more space and total driving range.

Cumulatively, the Chevrolet Volt has sold just over 69,000 copies to date in the U.S. Not a bad number, and good for the title of America’s best-selling plug-in – until the LEAF steals the crown in the very near future.

On the other hand, that total isn’t far off the initial annual sales target of 60,000 for the Volt. Just goes to show that sometimes projections of plug-in vehicle sales cannot be trusted.

GM learned its lesson from that initial overconfidence, arguably to a flaw: it appears that the company will not advertise the next-generation Volt as a mass-market vehicle in an attempt to temper expectations. Other automakers have learned to simply not open their mouths about projected sales figures.

We argue that if Chevrolet improved its marketing as much as the vehicle itself for the 2016 model, the Volt could still be a mass market vehicle, especially with the likely price drop and fifth seat on the way with the redesign. It still seems too early to give up on the Volt, although the current generation certainly appears to be nearing the end of the line.


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Comments

Well yes I believe the soon to be released 2016 Volt is hurting current Volt sales. I for one am waiting for the lower priced 2016 Volt to be released before we get one. The issue for me is cost/money. I don't want to go out and pickup a 2015 Volt just so the resale value drops like a rock when the 2016 is introduced.
I am also waiting to see what 2016 has in store. Otherwise, I would be considering the current model.