The Right Tool
My office phone at the dealership rolls over to my iPhone, after two rings. In commissioned sales, a missed call is missed income and a tragedy at bill-paying time!
This morning, as I was getting ready to jump in the shower, my phone rang. The caller said she wasn’t sure why she’d been transferred to me, but she was interested in the Volt. Just to make sure I understood, I said, “Is the first letter of the car bravo or victor?” I always want to make sure we’re discussing the same vehicle. She affirmed that is was victor for Volt.
She said she had one question, “If I get a Volt, does the dealership have a charger, on site, I can use to recharge my car?”
I responded, “Yes, we do, but you won’t want to use it.”
“Why is that?” she asked.
I explained by asking, “Do you want to stay at a Chevy dealership 4-1/2 hours every day?” I explained how far you can go, on a single charge, and the time it takes to refill a depleted battery pack. I added that the Volt comes with its own charger that can be plugged in at your home for exactly that purpose. She asked, “Can it be plugged into any ‘normal’ outlet?” I explained that it plugs into a 110V outlet, just like an iPhone. The circuit would have to meet a minimum amperage, but basically, yes. She seemed very surprised. I went on to say that most Volt owners only recharge at work or at home, due to the time it takes to charge. I explained that there are apps for smartphones that locate public chargers, and some chargers are free to use, but that the Volt’s backup gasoline engine allows owners a degree of freedom that purely electric vehicles do not have.
At this point, she said she is an apartment dweller and doesn’t have an outlet near her parking spot. She asked if she could run an extension cord from her apartment to her car. I explained why that isn’t a good idea. I also mentioned that the Bolt EV is a better choice for apartment dwellers, because the average driver would only have to charge one a week or so. The Bolt EV also supports DC Fast Charging, which means the weekly “fill up” would take only about 2-1/2 hours. She was aware of the Bolt EV, but said her budget was only $14K, so she was looking for a used Volt.
I passed along something one of my managers once told me, “You don’t ever have to plug the Volt in. It can be run, exclusively, on the gasoline engine and would result in about 37 MPG. Then I told her that in her situation, I would recommend a “normal” hybrid, like the Malibu, Prius, etc. Since those vehicles don’t get plugged in, but get impressive gas mileage, they are also a good choice for an apartment resident and can be acquired, on the used market, within her budget. She thanked me and ended the conversation.
It amazes me, after 79 months of Volt availability, that people are unaware of basic things like charge time or that the Volt comes with its own charge cord, just like a smartphone. THIS is a failing I put at GM’s doorstep.
The 1% Car
I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while and the previous narrative seemed to make this time appropriate.
I’ve spoken with people who LOVED the Volt test drive. They needed the efficiency and could live with the limited seating capacity. However, they started asking about three-row crossovers, like the Traverse or SUVs, like the Tahoe. When I asked why, their response usually went something like this:
“Once a year, we have family come down to visit us and we need a vehicle that has the capacity to handle that.”
I am floored by this approach to car buying! The customer is deciding on the best vehicle, based on how it will be used 1% or 2% of the time! My response is usually along these lines:
- You (the client) loved the silence and the acceleration of the Volt and know you’ll be giving this up, in the crossovers and SUVs, right?
- Let’s look at the economics: The Traverse and Volt are in the same price range, but only the Volt gives you the $7,500 tax credit.
- The Crossover/SUV gets 19 miles per gallon but the Volt gets the dollar equivalent of at least 80 MPG (conservatively)
- Driving the crossover 15K miles per year, results in a fuel cost of $1,776 per year. (15,000 miles ÷ 19 MPG X $2.25 per gallon)
- The Volt would have a fuel cost (electricity) of $640 per year, to travel the same distance. Assumptions: 11¢ per kWh, 20% charging loss, 0.31 kWh per mile, 41.1 miles per day: a VERY conservative estimate. (15,000 miles X 0.31 kWh ÷ 80% X 11¢)
- The resulting savings, of driving the Volt year round, just in fuel/electricity is $1,136 per year. This figure does not include at least three oil changes for the crossover/SUV per year or the convenience of refueling at home.
- The image, to the right, was just pulled today, for rentals the week of Christmas 2017, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Just the fuel savings would rent one or two SUVs for the week!
- Why not rent a really nice SUV, for the one week per year that the family visits, and thoroughly enjoy the driving experience the rest of the time?