Chevy Volt Buyers Trading In Toyota Prius

By · May 29, 2012

Chevy Volt at dealership

Del Grande Dealer Group President Shaun Del Grande is seeing new customers who are trading in Toyota Prius and Honda Civic models to purchase a Volt at his dealership in San Jose, Calif.

Nearly two-thirds of Chevrolet Volt buyers traded in non-General Motors vehicles when purchasing their Chevy plug-in hybrid, according to GM. In the automotive world, this phenomenon is often referred to as conquest sales—and it’s one of the key intangible benefits gained by early makers of plug-in electric vehicles. Nearly as soon as the Volt and LEAF were announced, executives from GM and Nissan were talking about how their plug-ins would earn new customers to the brand.

Chevy Volt sales data reveals that the most traded-in vehicles include the Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and BMW 3-Series. "I owned a Prius for six years and loved it. I was one of the first to sign-up for the [Prius] plug-in," said Steve Glenn of Santa Monica, Calif.. "While I was waiting for it to ship, I learned that the Volt would qualify for the HOV stickers, so I did a test drive. I fell in love then. I've driven it over 1,000 miles and I've only used five gallons of gas."

GM also attributes some of the sales success of its gas-powered Cruze to the Volt. According to the company, many web users who search for information on the Volt also research the Cruze. “Nearly seven in 10 Volt buyers are new to Chevrolet,” said Volt marketing manager Cristi Landy. “With new customers coming to the brand because of the Volt, our dealers have a great opportunity to establish lasting relationships and introduce them to our entire Chevrolet product line up.”

More than a year ago, Al Castignetti, Nissan vice president and general manager of the Nissan Division in North America, said that more than half of the 130,000 "hand raisers" who signed up for LEAF information were current Toyota Prius owners looking go even greener. Castignetti predicted that many Prius owners will trade up to an all-electric LEAF. "That's a pretty significant signal to us. It tells us that there is a segment of eco-friendly consumers who are interested in going to the next level,” Castignetti said. “They own a hybrid vehicle. But if the next step is available, they want to take it."

The big question is how much Nissan and Chevy will continue to conquest Prius’s customer base now that the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is available. Executives from both Nissan and Chevy recently told me that April’s 1,654 sales of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid undermined sales of Volt and LEAF. The relatively low cost of the PIP, and the loyalty of many Toyota Prius owners, make it a compelling choice for drivers wanting to drive solo in California’s carpool lane. All three vehicles are now granted access to the state’s HOV lanes, even when the driver is the solo occupant.

There will obviously be some cross-shopping between different plug-in vehicles. But sales numbers for Volt, LEAF and Plug-in Prius don’t tell the full story. Judging from the high number of conquest sales, the benefits of jumping in front of the competition in the plug-in market has all kinds of hard-to-measure benefits. Toyota has earned the reputation as a green brand by virtue of its 15-year commitment to hybrids. It will be fascinating to see how much GM and Nissan can chip away at Toyota’s leadership role with their own long-term commitment to vehicles that are even greener and cleaner than hybrids.


· MS (not verified) · 5 years ago

Volt is a hybrid, more expensive with plugin than the regular Prius. Have more power, and less room, some differences but essencialy different cars.

Naturally the "first time" adopters of Volt are persons who like hybrids and most of them already had a experience with the Prius.

If we make the same survey with the Leaf the response probably would be the same, most came from Prius.

And if the survey is made to Prius new owners, from which car they came from?

This is a step by step approach. However, let's see if Volt increase the sales, as I would guess that being sold for more than one year it will only increase significatly sales after being a proved and tested that is a car with longevity on the batteries, but that will be only after a few years of use.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Prius can be had for $23k while the Volt is $42k (the tax credit of $7,500 won't last forever). I'm not sure I'd ever buy into a taxpayer funded project like the Volt. I will only buy a car from a company that practices the fair rules of free enterprise which is what made America great.

· decaffeinated (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Anonymous said: "I'm not sure I'd ever buy into a taxpayer funded project like the Volt."

Bzzzzzzzzzzzt. But thanks for playing. The Prius was given tax breaks when it was brand new out of the chute. I took advantage of both state and federal tax credits when we purchased our 2005 Prius. When we purchased our 2010 Prius, the tax breaks had all expired due to heavy vehicle sales of the Prius model.

Oh, one more thing, you anonymous coward: the Prius is made overseas and the Volt is made in the US.

· · 5 years ago

There was a healthy taxpayer funded subsidy for the Prius in its early days as well. Don't forget that the Prius was made in Japan, a company with very onerous protection against the sale of US manufactured vehicles in their country.
Don't beat up too much on GM.
As far as the price goes, I was driving through a very wealthy neighborhood yesterday and mused at how many driveways had Priuses parked in them, usually alongside a Porsche, MBZ, BMW, etc.
There's nothing wrong with GM tapping these folks as they recoup their development costs and pay off their debts to us, the taxpayers.

· · 5 years ago

> I will only buy a car from a company that practices the fair rules of free enterprise which is what made America great. <

OK, I get the car thing. But do you buy subsidized, foreign oil/gasoline? Are you OK with that corruption of "free enterprise" and the American Way?

· · 5 years ago

im interrested to buy a used chevy volt in 2020 approx if they don't realease hydrogen fuelcell cars before that time. Im Im interrested to see prius plug-in, volt and upcoming fuelcell cars sold in quantity because i will be on the market in 2020 approx for a well maintain used green car. If in 2020 they begin to market a green flying car, then i might wait in 2028 to get a well maintain used one. Till then my 2005, 5 speeds dodge neon is able to wait till 2028 to get replaced as i drive few miles a week. I put 87 octane grade gasoline into it and this is the main problem as gas price are pricy and also polluting. Not only a hydrogen fuelcell car is non-polluting and cost few to fill-up but also the drive is better as electric car drive better with good accelerations and better breaking and long lasting components.

· Love My Volt! (not verified) · 5 years ago

Interesting article. I've owned nothing but foreign cars all my life, and of course was amazed at how much I loved driving the Volt. So yes, I am one of those who now own a GM product for the first time. Having had a Prius to compare it to, the Volt is much more sophisticated with more amenities. The smoothness of the drive is also hands-down better than the Prius. I have now driven over 1,000 miles on 1/2 gallon of gas and am looking forward to the second thousand. The bottom line is, you get what you pay for, and fortunately, there are choices out there to suit us all. The Volt IS a much smarter car than the Prius. Period. But the Prius is a wonderful car, too. I just love my Volt better!

· · 5 years ago

I was just talking to a fellow today that had traded his Prius for a Volt and was LOVING it. His only complaints were the lack of cargo area (compared to the Prius- he couldn't quite fit 2x4s into the Volt the way he did with the Prius) and the shifting lever indicators. That's a pretty short list IMO. If this is a testimony to anything, it speaks to the (well postulated) fact that Toyota waited about 3 years too long to offer a plugin option. It was a bad decision waiting until AFTER GM released the Volt and the rebates could taint the game.

· · 5 years ago

Some history: the Clinton Administration announced a government initiative in 1993 called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). This provided a billion dollars of grant money to the US auto industry to develop an automobile that could operate at up to 80 miles per gallon. Several years later, the PNGV emerged with three prototype 80 mpg cars. Every one was a hybrid and at least one utilized a diesel. Toyota's exclusion from PNGV prompted Chairman Eiji Toyoda to create a secret project called G21, Global Car for the 21st Century. The result was unveiled to the world a few years later as the Prius.

So, it's the ultimate irony that the modern hybrid car was actually developed with US federal subsidies. The US Big Three, in what was par for the course at that time, ignored the government-funded innovation they came up with and simply let it sit. The Japanese felt threatened by their exclusion from PNGV and, fearing that they would leapfrogged, worked hard to develop their own hybrid. US manufacturers, alas, were in a very different mindset at the time (easier to market Hummers and the like, don't you know) and had to play catch up years later.

So . . . if you really want to look at in detail, Anon, every hybrid that you can buy today was, in some way, the result of a US government funded project. If you want something that is "virginal and pure," may I suggest an ox and a wooden-wheeled cart?

· Bike guy (not verified) · 5 years ago

Dosn't any one remember the 50 plus billion dollar bailout? Corporate jets, like the shady neiborhood business. Close down for a week change the name reopen again. No thanks I'll support Nissan, Tesla, Ford, Toyota, Won't support GM "give me money motors"

· · 5 years ago

@decaffeinated "Oh, one more thing, you anonymous coward:"

And you're not anonymous? Is decaffeinated your first or last name?

· · 5 years ago

Do you remember, Bike Guy, that many of the Japanese auto giants - Toyota among them - also fell on hard times in 2009 and had to have their government bail them out? . . .

Tesla took a government loan in 2009, too, and rather massive one at that . . .

Ford took a bailout in 2009 as well, but it was smaller than the famed GM/Chrysler one and I guess Fox News probably wasn't paying attention that day . . .

You're Bike Guys? Hard for me to tell from this vantage point if that means bicycle or motorcycle. But you know, of course, that Harley-Davidson took some of that evil government loan money as well . . .

It's simply ridiculous for one to declare they're never buying a car from this or that auto company because those businesses took government loans. If you scratch the surface enough, you would find that every one of them did at one time or another.

So, if this is your sole criteria, you're also left with the ox and wooden-wheeled cart as your only purchase option. For all we know, Ye Olde Wooden-Wheel Ox Cart Ltd. got their fair share of guineas and florins advanced to them by Henry the 8th, sometime between his 5th and 6th wife. Maybe we better cross them off the list while we're at it.

I'm going to base my car buying decisions on practical criteria: who is making a high quality yet practical EV that I can afford? I like to buy American, if I can, but this is trumped if the foreign made product is a better match to my desired format and price point. Which is more "American" these days anyway? A Chevy made in South Korea or a Nissan made in Tennessee?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Look it up GM paid back the money. Banks have also been paying back. Basically they borrowed the money. Government owns a stake. These companies do not like this. They pay off as fast as they can. Government never losses.

· jltreadwell (not verified) · 5 years ago

I'm one of those that traded in a competitors vehicle and I have a history of owning non-GM vehicles. I continually am impressed with the fit, finish and performance on this computer on wheels. All of the arguments that I have read in my research preceding my purchase has been written by someone with an apparent ax to grind and has no basis in the fact of the performance of this machine. No one, and I mean no one, can provide a substantial argument to the fact that I am getting 36.2 miles per dollar that I spend on energy. At $3.50 per gallon of gas, I'm getting an equivalent of 127 MPG of gas. Enough said, what a machine!

· Frank the Volt Owner (not verified) · 5 years ago

I love my Volt so much that I'm heading over to autotrader dot com to look for another. Leased the first one, will buy the second one used. By the way, I'm that guy that passes you while you are parked at the gas pump. I will honk my horn so you know its me!! HAHAHAHAHA!

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