General Motors reported Chevy Volt sales of 1,529 for the month of December. The still unimpressive number is an improvement over previous months, but the gains were mostly driven by fleet sales. According to GM, 992 of the Volts sold were to retail customers while 537 went to fleet purchasers.
GM says the fleet sales were to corporate buyers and not to rental companies. The number of Volts sold to townships receiving federal grants remains unknown. The corporate sales claim makes sense as crony company, General Electric, starts to make good on its promise to buy thousands of Volts. Of course, GE benefits by selling charging stations for the vehicles.
Another interesting statistic on Volt sales can be derived from the inventory figures and number of Chevy dealerships with available Volts. GM now claims that 2,600 dealerships across the nation have Volts for sale. Given the 992 figure for Volts sold to retail customers, we come up with an average of approximately one third of a vehicle sold by each dealership per month. It is ludicrous for GM to continue to tout Volt sales figures as a success given the fact that about two thirds of dealerships offering Volts were unable to sell even one during the month! With supply now well over 4,000 units, lack of inventory can no longer be blamed for the dismal sales figures.
It remains to be seen what type of tricks the Obama Administration and GM might have up their sleeves when it comes to fluffing Chevy Volt sales figures. Both the Administration and GM have staked a lot of credibility on the vehicle claiming that it was to be a game changer for GM as well as a “moon shot.” Considering that taxpayers are subsidizing vehicles like the Volt to the tune of billions of dollars, it is understandable that critics of the vehicle want to know the truth about the projected high demand for the car that has yet to materialize. GM is sticking to its guns claiming that 60,000 Volts will be sold in 2012 after having missed 2011 sales goals by a wide margin. They have not, however, said who will be buying them.
Anyone who has observed the hype revolving around the Chevy Volt since the time preceeding its rollout to now should question the credibility of sources that proclaim the vehicle a success despite evidence that indicates otherwise. A further instance of suspicious support for the Volt was evidenced when Consumer Reports (CR) recommended the vehicle, which is based on the Chevy Cruze platform, only to report that the Cruze expected reliability is well below average. In fact, the Cruze was rated the worst value for small cars by CR. And while the recommended rating for the Volt had been highly publicized, there are few internet articles referencing the worst rating for the Cruze.
How can CR recommend the Volt based on reliability expectations when such a limited number of Volts have been sold and they have such a negative opinion on a vehicle with the same platform? And why has CR changed their opinion since the time they originally proclaimed that the Volt “didn’t seem to make a lot of sense?” In addition, CR has displayed a double standard regarding how it responded to battery safety issues for the Volt (CR stated the public had to adapt to a new technology) compared to how it responded to Toyota’s unintended acceleration investigation when it pulled the recommended rating from Toyotas.
Speaking of suspicious activity, an interesting statistic was revealed on GM’s sales conference call. Government purchases of GM vehicles rose 32% from last year. This represents yet another conflict as the Obama Administration has a vested interest in GM’s success as it spends more taxpayer dollars to help support the company as 2012 elections near.
For those Volt apologists who want to celebrate the insignificant sales growth of the car, have at it. The wealthy retail purchasers of the Volt can afford the high price tag of the vehicle. The country, however, no longer can. The $7,500 tax subsidy that goes to wealthy buyers should be ended. If this car and others like the Fisker and Tesla offerings which cost close to $100,000 each are as popular as advocates say they are, taxpayers should not have to give buyers $7,500 to drive sales. And if they are not popular, then all the more reason to stop bilking taxpayers out of billions of dollars to enrich crony corporations under the guise of green initiatives.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.