Chevy Volt sales surge, blows Leaf away in March


General Motors and its Chevrolet Volt are undergoing somewhat of a surge as the American automaker recently released figures highlighting the Volt’s record-breaking sales for the month of March. But will it be enough to meet the American automaker’s lofty sales expectations?

Up until now the Volt hasn’t exactly been flying off the lots. In fact, not long ago Chevrolet was forced to halt production of the extended-range plug-in hybrid altogether due to an increasing amount of Volts going unsold.

But now, it looks like Volt sales are finally picking up with GM announcing a record-setting 2,289 Volts sold in March, which is a 50-percent increase to the previous high set in December of last year where GM sold a then record-number 1,708 Volts.

It’s not the just the Volt that has seen increased figures, GM is enjoying a 12-percent sales boost across the board with many of its brands recording increased sales over the previous year.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the Volt, all isn’t quite well just yet. GM sold about 600 Volts in January and just over 1,000 in February, adding last month’s numbers places sales figures of the Volt to approximately 3,889 units sold. GM has already announced that it has set sales goals for the Volt in the region of 45,000 units for the calendar year. While it may have sold a record-number of Volts last month, even if the automaker is able to sustain these numbers it simply won’t be enough to meet their projected target.

Interestingly, despite the Volt being critically lauded and winning numerous automotive awards in the process, the Volt has simply failed to live up to its potential commerically. Some critics blame customer confusion over the hybrid gas-electric powetrain, while others point to previous safety concerns involving battery fires, which eventually were proved to be unfounded.

Truth be told, the biggest issue surrounding the Volt has been its price. At $40,000 the Volt is simply too expensive for many Americans, especially when customers — looking for a fuel-efficient Chevy — can look to the gasoline-powered Cruze for nearly half the price. For many, it just doesn’t make sense regardless of any desire to reduce ones carbon footprint or save money on gas.

W’ere not really sure how long GM can keep the Volt’s MSRP at its current number. If the the Volt fails to meet its goals by the end of the year, it may need to evaluate whether a more competitive price point would be in the best interest of the car. As it stands, the Volt simply isn’t resonating with customers. And not because the Volt is inferior technologically compared to its competitors, but that darn price is just too much of a barrier. 

Meanwhile, Nissan’s all electric Leaf managed to sell 579 units in March, which is up from 478 Leafs in February. To date, the Leaf enjoyed its best sales month in June 2011 when Nissan sold 1,708 units of its all-electric. According to Nissan, the company is on track to double sales in 2012 with the company selling roughly 9,700 Leafs last year in the U.S. alone.