Well, what are we waiting for?

VTrux grilleI’ve told many clients that if GM offered a Volt-like plug-in hybrid (or fully electric) pickup truck, I’d be a rich man. The rich part, of course, is in jest, but it would mean a serious uptick in plug-in vehicle adoption, in my humble opinion. Imagine a fully electric Chevy Colorado…

The dealership I work for, Classic Chevrolet, is the North Texas service center for Via Motors‘ extended range pickup truck. I’ve been waiting, since Spring of 2014, for the ability to sell one of their trucks. I’ve ridden in one. It was a full-sized Chevy Silverado, crew cab and it was wonderful. Still, I wait…VTrux

Now, several electric trucks have been announced, by various manufacturers. Here are a few:

It is obvious that there are manufacturers that want to pursue this market. For the 2018 model year, Chevy is rumored to be introducing the eAssist Silverado, a V8-powered “mild hybrid” (think Malibu Hybrid, not Volt). It is estimated to get an estimated 13% increase in fuel economy, compared to a non-hybrid Silverado.

When will this market take shape???VTrux solar

May 2017 Sales Numbers

May 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were up, for the vehicles I track, with one exception, and that exception was only very slightly down. In the three previous years, my May sales were great, qualifying me for bonuses from GM. This May, I struggled to sell only two vehicles, making this the worst first five months of the year I’ve had, since my first full year in this business, 2014. Traffic, both phone and on site, are markedly down.

The silver lining to the disaster of May 2017 was Bolt EV orders. Electric Avenue has received deposits for fifteen Bolt EVs. Two of those clients have asked me to hang onto their deposits, while they wait for better timing and one cancelled, in favor of the Volt. Then decided to not get the Volt.

The new month has started off so well, that I have already beaten last month’s crappy performance, with two Volt sales. One of the Bolt EV orders, mentioned above, occurred on the 1st of June. That particular order was interesting. The client had been to two other Chevy dealerships, looking to get an inbound Bolt EV reserved for himself. One dealership seemed completely disinterested and said they weren’t sure they were going to carry Bolt EV. One said they’d have one, that matched his criteria within six weeks (I doubt that’s possible).The client stated, from the very beginning of our discussion, “Whoever gets it in first wins.

Then he walked into Electric Avenue. We have a Bolt EV here, which is on loan to us from an owner. We cannot sell it, but we can show it off and test drive it. I checked our incoming inventory (35 Bolt EVs, including 12 ordered for clients) and did not find one that matched his criteria. After the test drive, we discussed the reasons why the one dealership said they probably would not carry Bolt EV, and I pointed out to him that not only were we going to have them in large (for Texas) quantities, but that we had designated a building specifically for EV & hybrid sales. I explained that we spent tens of thousands of dollars to make an environment for buyers of these vehicles, that is completely different than any other sales building on the premises, and was modeled after my experience working at Apple Retail. I closed with, “When it comes time to get your Bolt EV, support the dealership that is supporting you.” He immediately decided to place a deposit and order his Bolt EV from me.

Here are the May 2017 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: UP 1% (1,817 vs. 1,807)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 21% (1,566 vs. 1,292)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 31% (1,392 vs. 1,063)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 5% (1,908 vs. 1,819)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 44% (1,620 vs. 1,125) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 142% (1,730 vs. 715) **estimated
  • BMW i3: DOWN 2% (506 vs. 516)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 10% (1,000 vs. 905)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: UP 27% (950 vs. 749)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: UP 295% (75 vs. 19) ** My figures in last month’s summary mistakenly were for all Ioniqs, not just the electric that I intended to focus on…

In May, the average price of gasoline was down 2% compared with the previous month, dropping sharply, until the 14th of the month. Then, the price rose steadily, with one sharp dip, until the end of the month, finishing at $2.38.

May 2017 Sales NumbersAs I mentioned earlier, in May I only had two sales for the month. To show exactly what kind of disaster 2017 has been for me so far, take a look at the graph below. The red bars are the months of 2017. Notice how thin they are, compared to the other colors? It has become obvious that we should not have moved into the new building (which gets very low traffic) until Bolt EVs started to arrive.Buzz's Sales By Month

My May sales were comprised of one Z06 Stingray one Silverado 1500. I did not sell a single Volt, so although the Volt continues to be my most popular vehicle, it lost ground to my 2nd- and 3rd-best selling vehicles.Buzz's Vehicle Sales By Model

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were up with only two exceptions, the Tesla Model S and the Ford Fusion Energi.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 4% (1,817 vs. 1,901)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in May 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 42% (1,392 vs. 979)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 47,500% (1,904 vs. 4) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last May
  • Tesla Model S: UP 35% (1,620 vs. 1,200)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 8% (1,730 vs.1,600)
  • BMW i3: DOWN 27% (506 vs. 696)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 31% (1,000 vs. 1,453)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UP 77% (950 vs. 538)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in May 2016)

We’ll always have Paris…well, no. We won’t.

Paris vs. Big OilThe Trump administration today backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which had all but two countries of the entire planet as signatories. This action starts a process that will take until 2020 to complete. During his campaign, Trump had claimed that climate change was a non-issue, created by the Chinese to make American manufacturing less competitive in world markets.

Of course, today’s news comes as no surprise. Trump’s selection of the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, benefitted from campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. Lobbyists, from the fossil fuel industry, drafted letters that Pruitt sent out on state stationery, when he was Oklahoma Attorney General. He sued the EPA, repeatedly to stop implementation of environmental protection rules. On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted to get rid of the EPA and/or slash its number of employees, making it ineffective. The EPA, under Pruitt, has removed all mention of global climate change from the agency’s website.

On Trump’s first foreign trip, during his stop at the Vatican, the Pope gave Trump a copy of his encyclical on climate change, as a gift. I have to wonder if that embarrassing incident caused Trump to dig in his heels, even more, with regards to the Paris accord…

Now, it’s up to each of us, to save the planet. At the state and local level, we must push for changes to reduce carbon emissions. Local governments need vehicles. They should be looking at hybrids and EVs, where they are appropriate. Government buildings should be topped with solar panels or wind turbines.

We, as consumers, have the power to drive or accelerate change to reduce greenhouse gases. Your wallet is a powerful weapon. If you have the ability to shop for your electricity provider, select one who uses renewable energy, instead of coal or natural gas. I did this over 16 years ago, by switching to Green Mountain Energy. In the beginning, I paid a little more for this. Now, they are very competitive with other, non-renewable energy providers.

If you’re a homeowner, consider adding solar panels to your home. Generate your own, pollution-free electricity from the sun. Lately, I’ve seen companies advertise that they are building solar farms and will provide electricity at a flat, monthly rate to those who cannot put solar panels on their residence (apartment dwellers, those who don’t have good southern exposure, renters, etc.).

When you’re out shopping, select vendors who are making changes to be environmentally responsible. If they have chargers for electric vehicles, hybrid delivery vehicles, solar panels on the business, frequent their establishment and make sure the manager/owner knows that their behavior is what made you their customer.

Recycle as much of your trash as possible. The more we can recycle materials, rather than make them from scratch, the less pollution we generate and the less room we’ll take up in landfills.

Drive a vehicle that is appropriate. If your daily commute is you, alone in a vehicle, do you really need that large SUV? Wouldn’t a hybrid, electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle work? There are tax incentives (for now, at least). Take advantage of them! Ask your friends, who have these cars, what the pros and cons are. If you have a large family, that requires a large vehicle, use that room to carpool, reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Take mass transit, if possible. Is this convenient? Maybe not. Suffering from lung disease isn’t either.

Most importantly, make sure your elected officials know that environmental stewardship is important to you. Call, write, email them. Let them know this is a primary way you’ll determine who you’ll vote for, and then VOTE! There are many hot-button issues that the politicians use to keep us divided. The pro-life/women’s rights argument has swayed many an election. Ask yourself, “How many babies will struggle to breathe, if we abandon effective environmental stewardship?” One of my daughters struggled every time there was an ozone alert in our area. It sounded like she had whooping cough. It was agonizing for us. “How many babies will starve to death, if we create a new dust bowl?” If you are really concerned about the fate of the unborn, this should be an important issue for you, as well.

Nothing can change a politician’s actions quite as quickly as the threat of impending unemployment. Organize and push for term limits for Congress. Most elected officials today have one, most important issue, with which they’re concerned. It’s keeping that cushy job, in Washington. It takes a lot of money to get elected. They can spend all their time trying to get small, individual donations, or they can have a few dinners for their wealthy contributors and rake in the cash. Then they have become a minion of these donors. Someone like Bernie Sanders only comes around rarely. Most politicians take the easy way out and sell their influence for campaign donations.

But, you already knew this.

Start to act on it.

This behavior only exists because we allow it to exist. We are part of the problem. Instead of complaining about our elected officials’ corruption and short-sightedness, look in the mirror. Change starts with you.

Memorial Day in the car biz

Memorial Day Ad with Bolt EVMany of you like to get your new vehicle, during a holiday. You have plenty of time to shop and bringing a new car home is a great way to celebrate. In the car sales business, most dealers are open their usual hours and all hands are on deck, anticipating crowds. This is true of Classic Chevrolet, as well.

One thing is different in our ad, this weekend: The Chevrolet Bolt EV is featured in the ad’s banner! We began officially taking orders and have fifteen on order now. Eight of those already have deposits on them, as they were custom-ordered for clients. Based on normal order turn-around, I am hopeful our Bolt EV orders will arrive before the 4th of July.

If you’re in the DFW area, come on by and visit the “EVangelists” of Electric Avenue.2 Bolts at EA

P.S. An owner dropped the Bolt EV here so people can check it out and test drive it, before they’ll be common, in Texas!

A wonderful day for me and my family

Zoe & Bon at graduationThis post is only tangentially related to plug-in vehicles, as a view of the video will show.

Today was a wonderful day for me and my family. I worked, in the morning, and helped a client order his 2017 Chevy Bolt EV. As soon as I wrapped that up, I sped home to meet the family for a trip to downtown Fort Worth, Texas. The reason? To watch my youngest daughter Zoe graduate from high school!Zoe IB Done

It was an afternoon filled with pride and tears, as we steel ourselves for her departure to college, at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock Texas (303 miles away). She will study computer engineering.

Think EVs aren’t for the performance-oriented buyer?

Pon & BuzzThis really happened today:

Pon, is a very cool client of mine. He bought a Z06 Corvette from me and recently drove a Bolt EV and LOVED it! He has multiple performance cars, including a Mercedes Benz, 1979 and 1981 Trans Ams and used to have a Lamborghini. He said the Bolt will be the next addition to his flock! He loved the acceleration, one pedal driving, quietness and cornering.

For the uninitiated, a Z06 Corvette Stingray (7th generation, or “C7” as it is known among the Corvette aficionados) has 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. It is truly a beast.

Pon was visiting the dealership for an oil change and stopped by my old desk, in the main showroom. Seeing another salesperson there, he called my mobile number, to ask where I was. I told him about Electric Avenue, so he stopped by to visit, as he waited for his Stingray’s service to be completed.

We were chatting about my move and what Electric Avenue is all about, when a Bolt EV pulled up. The driver, who I know well, through us the keys and we took it for a spin.

The rest, as they say, is history.

…or prehistory, since he hasn’t bought the Bolt EV yet.

Plug-in vehicle depreciation and the case for leasing

I often hear, as a potential objection to getting a plug-in vehicle, that they depreciate too quickly, when compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. I’ve been scanning used car prices, for the Chevy Volt, in Texas to try to evaluate this.

Of course, I built a spreadsheet, as I am a former manufacturing engineer and am a confirmed EV nerd. I pulled every invoice I could, by using the used Volts’ vehicle identification number, or VIN, to access the original invoice. Of course, I do not know what the original buyer paid for the Volt, so I used MSRP. I also do not know what a buyer will offer on the used car purchase, so I used the advertised price for the current value.

The original invoice, in some cases, could not be located. The newer the model, the better the chance I could locate the invoice. Also, I was only able to locate 34 pre-owned Volts, within 250 miles of my location, so the sample is fairly small. That being said, the percentage of MSRP that the asking price represents was pretty consistent in my sampling.

What I’ve found, is that when you take into account the Federal Income Tax Credit at its full value of $7,500, the depreciation appears to be very close to other vehicles. It is true that not everyone qualifies for the full $7,500, and those who lease do not get the credit. In the case of leasing, the leasing company gets the tax credit. However, leasing incentives put most of the tax credit back into the lease, to lower the monthly payment. For instance, this month, the leasing incentives start at $5,025.

Here’s the spreadsheet:Volt DepreciationI noticed that the 2014 vehicles, now three years old, have only depreciated 43%, whereas I expect most vehicles to depreciate 50% over three years, once the tax credit is taken into account. This may be optimistic asking prices or because this sampling seems to have low mileage per year. In any case, I am not trying to say Volts depreciate at a slower rate than other vehicles, just that they don’t depreciate faster than traditional vehicles. One interesting note: There was a $5,000 price drop on Volts, going into the 2013 model year. This should have had a disastrous effect on depreciation of the earlier model years. Based on the scanty evidence I could find, this did not seem to be the case.

As the disclaimer goes: “Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.” The Bolt EV may have an impact on Volt resale values, going forward. Only time will tell. For that reason, I recommend my Volt clients lease instead of purchase their Volt. There are actually several reasons why I do this:

  • New, long range EVs (like Bolt) may hurt resale value.
  • Those who do not qualify for the entire tax credit, due to low tax burden (retirees and young buyers), will get better value by leasing and the leasing incentives.
  • Advancements in battery technology and faster charging will make today’s plug-in vehicles seem like antiques, for those of us who’ve been driving them for a few years. By leasing, we a future-proofing our EV experience by being able to move into the next generation of plug-ins more quickly.
  • The return of lease vehicles creates a market for preowned plug-in vehicles. This helps lower income buyers join in the transportation revolution. Although those of us with EV experience may want the latest and greatest, those new to these wonderful vehicles will still feel like they’ve stepped into a brighter future because, even a three year old plug-in vehicle seems like such an advancement over internal combustion engine (ICE) technology.

Of all of these reasons, it’s the last one that is most important to me. Once someone gets their first plug-in vehicle and enjoys the silence of electric drive, the exhilarating acceleration and the convenience of refueling at home or parked at work, the odds they’ll return to an ICE vehicle is negligible. This effect is called “butts in seats.” Until one experiences these things first-hand, they just don’t get it. In my day job as an EVangelist, I insist the EV curious go on a test drive. I tell them right up front, “No matter what I tell you, you won’t really understand, until you drive an EV.”

That’s what will accelerate the move forward, toward the future of electric transportation.