October 2017 Sales Numbers and a 38 Year Journey Ends

October 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were mostly down, over the previous month, with two exceptions: The Chevy Bolt EV and the BMW i3.

The total sales for the year, of the vehicles I track, have several bunched around one another. The Volt, Prius Prime*, Model X and Bolt EV are all within a variation of only 6%. If the Bolt EV is removed from that group, the variation drops to only 4%. These vehicles (not including Bolt EV) sell at an average rate of 1,614 units to 1,674 units, per month. The Bolt EV, although not available in all states until July of this year, averaged 1,708 units per month. The big showdown, between the Tesla Model 3 and Bolt EV, has failed to materialize, due to Tesla’s production challenges. In its first four months of availability, only 367 Model 3s have been sold. In the same four months, Chevy cranked out 9,491 Bolt EV sales. I have had three Bolt EV customers tell me they had considered a Tesla (including a Model X) before selecting the Bolt EV, due to its bang for the buck. If the rumored end of the Federal Income Tax Credit for plug-in vehicles comes to fruition, Tesla may see a stampede away from the Model 3, in order for buyers to get an electric vehicle before the $7,500 tax credit ends.

*(includes the previous model, the Plug-in Prius)
EV Sales Numbers

 

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

  • Chevy Volt: Down 6% (1,362 vs. 1,453)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 6% (2,781 vs. 2,632)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 80% (213 vs. 1,055) **new model announced
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOWN 14% (1,626 vs. 1,899)
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 77% (1,120 VS. 4,860) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 73% (850 VS. 3,120) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 28% (686 VS. 538)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 3% (741 VS. 763)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: DOWN 17% (569 VS. 683)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: DOWN 22% (28 VS. 36) what’s going on here???

In October, the average price of gasoline was $2.47 per gallon and started out around $2.54 per gallon, dropping precipitously until bottoming out on the 22nd. After the 22nd, prices staggered higher, ending around $2.48.

With the exception of 2016, October has been a pretty good month for my sales. This October my sales were about the same as they were in October 2014 & 2015.My Sales By WeekMy ten October sales were comprised of four Bolt EVs, two Silverados, one Equinox, one Cruze, one Traverse, and one Volt. Bolt EV is still the hot vehicle. Volt lost a little ground to pickups, and the Bolt EV is gaining quickly on Volt. I am definitely seeing much more customer interest in the Bolt EV than I am in the Volt. In fact, Bolt EV is my #1 selling vehicle for 2017, even though we didn’t have any to sell, until the very last day of June! My top two vehicles in 2017 are Bolt EV (21 units) and Volt (17 units).

Vehicle Sales By Model

During lunch the other day, I got a call from a reporter from Wards Automotive and we discussed that dynamic. This October tied for my best October, so I should not complain, but I missed a GM target by only one vehicle. It is so frustrating for me when that happens! I had two appointments on Halloween that should have resulted in goal attainment, but one was a no-show and the other decided to keep the vehicle I sold them two years ago.

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were mixed, with two models suffering from new vehicles/models from the same manufacturer.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 38% (1,362 vs. 2,191) **the Bolt EV effect?
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in October 2016**new model announced
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 85% (213 vs. 1,412)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: DOES NOT COMPUTE! (1,626 vs. 0) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last October
  • Tesla Model S: UP 21% (1,120 VS. 925)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 17% (850 VS. 725)
  • BMW i3: UP 55% (686 vs. 442)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 46% (741 vs. 1,372)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: UNCHANGED (569 vs. 571)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in October 2016)

This week (November 1st through 7th) is a statistically odd week for my sales. In four years of selling cars, I have never sold a vehicle, during that week. Next month, I’ll let you know if I bucked that trend…

Finally, a story 38 years in the making: The Houston Astros finally won the World Series and are the champions. Baseball is the only sport I watch regularly and I grew up in Houston. I was in college, in 1979, when my father-in-law, Dwight Maney, Sr. started taking his sons and me to baseball games, in the Astrodome. That year, they came within 1-1/2 games of winning the NL West. I suffered through the extra-inning Game 5 defeat to the Phillies, in the NLCS, the following season, but was hooked for life.

I was in the Astrodome, when Nolan Ryan got his 4,000th strikeout and was in Rangers Stadium, when he got his 5,000th. I moved away from Houston, in 1986, when oil prices and real estate values collapsed, sending my hometown (and my career) into a downward spiral for a few years. I watched the 1986 NLCS on TV, in Arlington, Texas and was on my knees, screaming, when Kevin Bass struck out, in the 16th inning of Game 6, losing to the Mets.

Due to proximity, I became a Texas Rangers fan and slowly started loving the Rangers, but always had a soft spot for the Astros. In 1987, Nolan Ryan became a Ranger and it just seemed appropos. The only time I would root against the ‘Stros, were when they faced the Rangers. It was an adjustment, watching baseball outdoors. Having watched every game, previous to my move to Arlington, in the Astrodome, made me think of baseball as an indoor sport.

AstrosIn 2005, I took my youngest daughter, Zoe (6 years old at the time) to her first NLCS in Houston’s new stadium and they won. We were screaming after the game and with Zoe perched on my shoulders, a Houston TV station, which was shooting footage of the celebrating fans, captured the moment. The two of us drove the 4-1/2 hours back to DFW that night and heard the next morning that the footage of us celebrating had made the morning news. Zoe has been to many Rangers games since.

Zoe & Me 2005 NLCS

Zoe & me at 2005 NLCS. (that’s the jersey I wore this week, watching the World Series on TV)

Having won the NLCS, the Astros were on their way to the World Series, facing the Chicago White Sox. My youngest brother, Curt had gotten tickets for us, two for him and his wife to Game 4, and two for Bonnie and me to Game 5.

The Astros were swept in four straight games. My ticket was never used and I have it to this day.

Perhaps now, you can understand why I am writing about this on My Electric Vehicle Journey… GO ASTROS!!!!

Champs at last

I waited a long, long time to see this.

Dark clouds on the horizon.

IRS logoAccording to an article posted by Green Car Reports today, the Federal Income Tax Credit for plug-in vehicles may be in danger of being eliminated prematurely. Based on the picks that have been made to head up departments like the EPA, Department of Energy, etc, this could be a very real threat.

There are two courses of action:

  • If you’ve been considering a plug-in vehicle, you may want to purchase or lease one before the end 2017.
  • If you’re opposed to this action, contact your elected representative and make your voice heard!

The writing’s on the wall?

wall writing

Just a quick scan of news sites helped me put together a list of countries who have announced an end date for gasoline- or diesel-powered car sales:

  • China (no date set)
  • India 13 years from now
  • France 23 years
  • Britain 23 years
  • Norway 8 years
  • Scotland 15 years
  • Netherlands 8 years

These countries have set EV sales targets, but no end date has been set for gasoline- and diesel-powered passenger vehicle sales to end…yet.

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Denmark (I could have sworn they set a date)
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Portugal
  • Korea
  • Spain
Trendsetters

Trendsetters (click for larger image)

Geographically speaking, the map above may not seem impressive, but in 2016, the countries mentioned above, represented 62.9% of all passenger vehicle sales for the entire planet!* (I was a bit surprised by that)

Here’s how they stack up:

  • China 35.1%
  • Japan 6%
  • Germany 4.8%
  • India 4.3%
  • Britain 3.9%
  • France 2.9%
  • Korea 2.2%
  • Spain 1.7%
  • Netherlands 0.6%
  • Austria 0.5%
  • Denmark 0.3%
  • Portugal 0.3%
  • Norway 0.2%
  • Ireland 0.2%
  • Scotland (included in Britain’s percentage)

China’s the big dog (both geographically and in percentage of cars sold), at 35.1%. The next in line, at least as far as the countries listed above go, is Japan, at 6%. May be that’s why Mary Barra’s comment about China’s decision seems to have been toned down, recently… Heck, the U.S. is only 9.9%. As such, the U.S. is the largest country, in passenger vehicle sales volume, that hasn’t posted an end date for ICE vehicles or plans to do so.

This brings a few questions to mind:

  • If the stated goals are upheld, what happens to the price of gasoline?
  • If gas prices collapse, wouldn’t that dramatically reduce the number of gas stations. accelerating the switch, globally?
  • Will pre-owned gasoline- & diesel-powered cars become valuable collectibles or, due to the lack of gas stations, junkyard fodder?
  • Will we finally see people change careers from fossil fuel industries (dangerous to both workers and the environment) to renewable energy careers, accelerating change?
  • Has the United States’ time, as a world leader, ended for good, now that China’s and India’s middle classes are rising in purchasing power, while ours is being decimated by income inequality? Are we cool with that?
  • Has Fiat decided to just roll over and die?

*according to sales statistics from The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

Bolt EV’s effect on Volt sales

Bolt EV vs. VoltThis is not good news for fans of the Chevy Volt. My Volt sales have dropped 60%, since the introduction of the Bolt EV. Here’s how it looks:
 
3-1/2 months before Bolt EV arrived:
  • Volt sales: 10 units
3-1/2 months after Bolt EV arrived:
  • Volt sales: 4 units
  • Bolt EV sales: 20 units
Some of this was pent up demand for the Bolt EV, which didn’t arrive in Texas until seven months, after it’s debut in California and Oregon. However, two of the Volts I sold were due to customers, who wanted the Bolt EV, switching to Volt because they found the seats uncomfortable in the Bolt EV. If not for that, the score would have been 22 to 2!
 
My last 5 Volt orders (for inventory) were scheduled to be built the week of 11/6/2017. The build dates just changed on these to 1/15/2018.
 
Ultimately, consumers will decide the fate of the Volt. It’s starting to look like people are MUCH more interested in going fully electric and waiting for infrastructure to get built instead of going with the Volt, which doesn’t need infrastructure build-out.

September 2017 Sales Numbers, an anniversary and a goodbye

September 2017 plug-in vehicle sales were mostly up, over the previous month.

For the last two years, September has been a pretty average month for me. This September was not as good as the two previous Septembers, but didn’t miss the previous one by much.

EV Sales NumbersOne other graphic, which I’ve shown before, is a zoomed in look at adoption rates (see below). The Bolt EV and plug-in Prius are the only vehicles I track that have seen a greater adoption rate than the original Prius. The plug-in Prius outpaced its ancestor for its first 15 months of availability, but did not keep up that pace and faded away over time. Now that the next generation Prius Prime has debuted, adoption rates have once again picked up. The Bolt EV, on the other hand has stayed above the original Prius adoption rate for 9 months, with only its debut in December 2016, when it was only available in California and Oregon, scoring lower than the Prius. The Bolt EV now enjoys a lead of 4,606 units after 10 months of availability. No other vehicle has ever had that much of an advantage, over the original Prius’ adoption rate. Second place falls to the plug-in Prius, which at its maximum had a lead of 2,471 units. The Model S had risen to a better adoption rate than the original Prius in its 40th month of availability, only to fall behind and stay there. The Model X, has stayed within striking distance of the Prius adoption rate, exceeding it in months 16, 17, 19 and 25 (last month). If the Model X’s first 3 months hadn’t been so low-volume, it may have produced a curve similar to the Bolt EV’s trajectory.

As the Plug-in Prius shows, the Bolt EV adoption may fizzle out, or it may be the next major turning point in automotive history, living up to the original Prius’ prominent spot.

Only time will tell.Starting Gate

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

  • Chevy Volt: UP 1% (1,453 vs. 1,445)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 25% (2,632 vs. 2,107)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 9% (1,055 vs. 1,154)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 4% (1,899 vs. 1,820)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 126% (4,860 vs. 2,150) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 98% (3,120 vs. 1,575) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 7% (538 vs. 504)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UNCHANGED (763 vs. 762)
  • Ford C-Max Energy: DOWN 3% (683 vs. 705)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: DOWN 45% (36 vs. 66)

In September, the average price of gasoline started out around $2.61 per gallon, rising steadily until the 7th. After the 7th, prices continued to fall, with a minor bump up around the 28th, ending the month at it’s lowest point, below $2.55.

My Sales By MonthMy Bolt EV sales have hit the following milestones:

  • After only three months, Bolt EV sales have now equalled or exceeded my four-year sales totals for nine other Chevy vehicles.
  • As a percentage of all vehicles I have sold, in my four years at Classic Chevrolet, plug-in vehicles (Volt & Bolt EV, at 24%) have exceeded the percentage of my sales that was SUVs (23%), Trucks (20%) and Corvettes (10%).
  • The last three months of Bolt EV sales are about one-fourth of my four year Volt sales.
  • For 2017, three months of my Bolt EV sales have exceeded my Volt sales for all nine months of 2017 so far.

Vehicle Sales By ModelMy September sales were comprised of three Bolt EVs, one Silverado, one Cruze, one Colorado, one Spark and one Volt. Bolt is still the vehicle of the moment. Volt pulled away from pickups, once again, but the Bolt EV is gaining quickly. I am definitely seeing much more customer interest in the Bolt EV than I am in the Volt.

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were mixed.

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 28% (1,453 vs. 2,031)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: (was not available in September 2016)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 20% (1,055 vs. 1,316)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 47,375% (1,899 vs. 4) **previous generation Prius plug-in, dying out last September
  • Tesla Model S: UP 12% (4,860 vs. 4,350)
  • Tesla Model X: DOWN 2% (3,120 vs. 3,200)
  • BMW i3: UP 38% (538 vs. 391)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 54% (763 vs. 1,652)
  • Ford C-Max Energi: DOWN 1% (683 vs. 689)
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric: (was not available in September 2016)

My Business CardThe anniversary: Today marks the fourth anniversary of my becoming an EVangelist at Classic Chevrolet. It’s been a fun ride so far, with many changes made (and more to come, I’m sure).

Thanks to all who have helped me in this part of my journey.

Easy Tradin' DaleFinally, the retirement of a legendary salesperson: “Easy Trading” Dale Bryant. Dale’s desk was in a prime spot, in the main showroom, right next to the front doors. He had been in car sales for decades and was well known in that field. He taught me a lot about the business, when I first came on board, but what amazed me the most was his memory for his clients’ faces. A person would walk in and although Dale had not seen them for months (maybe even years) he would always say, “Hi, Mr. ______! How have you been?” He never seemed to draw a blank on a name! He had been at Chevy long enough that he knew all sorts of trivia on each well-established model. He was a wealth of knowledge and advice. I’ll miss him.

Have a wonderful retirement, Dale!

Book review: Dark Money

Dark MoneyWant to get really depressed? Have I got a book for you!

Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money,” is a thoroughly researched, very detailed account of how small, tactical changes to laws have changed politics in our country. At a time when Americans are deeply disgusted with politics, it’s an interesting and important book.

I realize both sides of the political spectrum are using dark money to manipulate the masses and to frame today’s political discourse, but this book really explains how it has been done. It describes how our democracy has been stolen from us, with our approval. It explains how we, as a people have become so polarized, but more importantly, who (at least in the case of conservatives) is behind it and why.

The names involved include a who’s who of current political events, like Charles and David Koch, The DeVos family, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, as well as other names familiar to you.

My interest is in the current climate change debate and how we went from a point where the majority of Americans believed the scientific consensus to the current point of constant debate. Make no mistake, the same firms that confused the public about whether or not tobacco was harmful were involved in creating the confusion about global climate change. In fact, their slogan was “Doubt is our product.” And who pays these firms for their work? Why those who have been fined millions upon millions of dollars for damage to the environment and see rules preventing them from doing this as infringements on their freedom. Those who, to make an extra $7 million, reopened a gas pipeline they knew to “leak like swiss cheese,” killing two teenagers, when it exploded, resulting in a $298 million dollar civil judgement against them. Those whose employees, when they reported dumping of MERCURY onto the ground near rivers, were terminated for reporting the crime to management or the authorities. One instance of mercury dumping poisoned the fish for fifty miles downstream and made it into people who unknowingly ate those fish.

Did you know your politicians created a law allowing the very wealthy to place their children’s inheritances into trusts, where if the funds remained untouched for twenty years and the interest earned was donated to non-profit organizations, became a tax free inheritance? That doesn’t sound so bad, until it is uncovered that those same rich people created their own non-profit organizations which then distributed the interest earned to political campaigns, via donations to other non-profits, which removed their fingerprints from the funds. Some of the schemes were described by the officials trying to investigate them as “Russian nested dolls.”

It is one thing to confuse smokers into believing that the product they’re using isn’t killing them. That affects the users of tobacco and their families, but leaves the rest of us unscathed.

It is quite another thing to confuse the public into believing in “clean coal” or that global climate change is a “job killer” or is an evil plot by liberals to redistribute wealth from “doers” to “takers.” In this latter case, we all lose if we kill the planet.

Again, I believe both sides are doing this and the media is complicit, focusing on false “outrages” to keep the people of America distracted.

When will we wake up?

Will it be too late?

Where are the true statesmen/women?