Bolstered by a surge in SUV, pickup, and other mainstream vehicle sales, General Motors’ July sales overall were the highest they’ve been since 2007 – up 9 percent year-over-year, and the Chevy Volt was up 13 percent with 2,020 deliveries.
The Volt sold relatively well considering its record, but GM is focused more on the bread and butter cars that keep its bean counters happy. Its bigger sellers crested into the five-digit range, and the Chevy Cruze and Equinox sold above 20,000.
GM’s top seller in July? Helped by a 69-percent increase in fleet sales, the Silverado pickup did 42,097 and the Equinox was second to it with 25,321. The Volt’s 2,020 was down near the lowest, but it did outsell the Buick Regal’s 1,246, Cadillac XTS’ 1,939, Chevy Caprice’ 357, not to mention the Volt-based Cadillac ELR’s 188.
A while back GM ceased advertising the Volt outside of California and at tech events where it says would-be buyers will understand it, and has conceded it has sort of given up pushing the car as hard.
Its in-house news report however was accentuating the positive.
“Sales of utility vehicles soared in July because American families feel better about the economy than they have in a long time, and they are finding an incredible variety of redesigned and all-new models in our showrooms,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “Small, compact, medium, large – sales were strong across the board.”
Chevrolet’s 2015 Volt since July has a 17.1-kilowatt-hour battery, up from the 16.5-kwh rated at 38 miles electric range, the longest of any plug-in hybrid yet sold, including new releases from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche costing much more.
Volt ads from the early days show GM really tried, but today it says Joe and Jane Mainstreet just don’t comprehend what it can do for them, or know it even exists.
Its price has been cut to $35,000 and incentives are available, but growth has not been what it has been for Nissan’s all-electric Leaf, which during 2012 lagged the Volt, but for the last year and a half has set records trending upward. For July Nissan reported its second-best Leaf sales of 3,019.
The Volt may also be doing only so well now as it is expected to be replaced with a second-generation product. GM has said nothing much about it officially, and has left speculators guessing whether it wil get much more EV range, or not.
According to GM Authority, Chevrolet may make an announcement next week for a reveal by end of 2014 of the 2016 Volt.
Helping the present Volt, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety did just rank it as a Top Safety Pick+. It faired acceptably in the tough small overlap test which smashes a car head-on into the driver’s half to simulate a solid clipping of something immovable.
Nissan faired only poorly with the crash dummy experiencing potentially more injuries.
Whether this will have much bearing on consumer choices is debatable, but Nissan is promoting free public charger access for two years to new Leaf buyers, while enjoying new eastern state subsides that have added to its appeal.
Surveying the big picture, GM’s McNeil noted fleet sales were up 69 percent, consumer sales are also on the rise, and shoppers are not as worried about fuel prices, while employment is reportedly improved.
And, said McNeil, trucks carried the day.
“In particular, there is a lot of pent-up demand for our new large SUVs and we expect pickup deliveries to be strong, as they usually are in the second half of the year.”
In other news, Autoblog reported Mitsubishi says thus far it has sold 33,000 of its Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV with e-range comparable to the Volt. It’s done this without even entering the U.S. market with it yet, and is expected in the U.S. next year.
This vehicle that was launched two years after the Volt is approaching half of the Volt/Ampera sales. GM in 2010 showed an MPV5 Crossover SUV concept based around the Volt, but has done nothing with Voltec except build the Cadillac ELR.
GM is actually canceling the Ampera for Europe, and has announced no trucks or larger vehicles that could save fuel like the Volt, and develop economies of scale.