Now available across America, the Chevrolet Bolt produced its best sales month to date in August.
The Chevrolet Volt, meanwhile, suffered its fifth consecutive month of decline.
Bolt > Volt?
Launched in late 2016, the Chevrolet Bolt was initially available only in California and Oregon. By spring, GM had added Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington. Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont, were scheduled next. With 32 more states added for a full slate, Bolt volume rose to 2,107 units in August, 54-percent greater than its monthly average through July.
Though certainly not yet a common car, 2,107 August sales made the Chevrolet Bolt more popular than the Audi A3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Ford Flex, Chevrolet Spark, Mazda CX-9, Ford C-Max, and Jaguar F-Pace, among many others. Bolt sales were also 83 percent stronger than U.S. sales of the Nissan Leaf, now operating at the end of its first-generation’s tenure.
“There simply isn’t an affordable long-range alternative at the moment,” GM spokesperson Jim Cain (no relation) told TTAC this morning. The Chevrolet Bolt has an EPA-rated range of 238 miles; the Nissan Leaf is now rated at 107 miles.As for the Chevrolet Volt, the second-generation of GM’s range-extended EV — known typically as a plug-in hybrid — is not just losing out to the Chevrolet Bolt but also to the increasingly popular Toyota Prius Prime. Year-to-date, the Volt leads the Prius Prime by 738 sales, but the Prius Prime has outsold the Volt in four of the last five months.
With the Volt losing market share to the Prius Prime while also losing limelight to the Bolt, Volt sales have fallen 19 percent during the last five months. That’s a meaningful slide for a car that climbed to its highest annual total ever in calendar year 2016.
From GM’s perspective, Jim Cain says the Volt continues to perform well. With the Bolt and Volt — an either/or proposition — Chevrolet’s lineup differs from Toyota, which is currently hybrid-focused, and Nissan, which is currently EV-focused. Offering the suddenly less popular Volt alongside the Bolt is helpful, “because it offers its own solution to range anxiety,” Cain says.
Neither car makes a strong suggestion that mass EV adoption is upon us — plug-in hybrids and pure electrics generated just 1 percent of U.S. auto sales in August. But as EV ranges extend, range-extended hybrids such as the Volt may lose their appeal more rapidly than originally expected.
Chevrolet sold 196,007 new vehicles in August 2017. General Motors sold 275,552, an 8-percent improvement. Included in those totals were 3,552 Bolts and Volts. HybridCars.com estimates Tesla sold 2,100 copies of the Model S plus 1,700 Model Xs and 70 Model 3s.