Volt Sales Set Record in September 2012, While LEAF Hits 12-Month High

By · October 02, 2012


Sales of the Chevy Volt remain solid with General Motors reporting it sold 2,851 units in September 2012. That's 20 units above the previous record-setting 2,831 units sold in August 2012, and significantly more than the 1,849 units sold in July. If we flip the calendar back to September 2011, we discover that General Motors sold only 723 Chevy Volts that month.

Nissan reported that sales of its electric LEAF checked in at a 12-month high of 984 units in September 2012, compared to 685 units in August, and only 395 in July. Nissan's low volume of LEAF sales throughout nearly all of 2012 was a disappointment, but the higher numbers suggest that attractive pricing for leases at the dealership level could signal a turnaround.

In terms of 2012 year-to-date numbers, the tally for the Nissan LEAF now checks in at 5,212 units. Meanwhile, the 2012 YTD results for the Chevy Volt ring in at 16,348 units. Last year at this exact time, General Motors' year-to-date Volt sales stood at just 3,895 units.


· Volume Van (not verified) · 5 years ago

Great. GM has done it again with breaking the previous record. Where are those who cried foul of Volt, are they electrocuted.

Gas priced stayed above $3.80 throughout last month. Now it will go down, but again it will come up when Spring starts. So better buy a EV or Plugin or Hybrid and protect yourself.

Meanwhile C-Max also sold 969 units and may establish itself as competitor to Prius.

· Senator Blutarsky (not verified) · 5 years ago

The record Volt sales are likely attributable to high model year-end incentives offered to clear out the 2012 models. I suppose we will know in a month for sure.

However, it is also clear that the Volt, at least in its first iteration, is a highly unprofitable enterprise. I have posted what seems to be the first detailed analysis of the Volt’s profitability, drawing on public data and where necessary making estimates.

Even while trying to err on the side of GM in making those estimates, I calculate a lifetime economic loss to GM shareholders of $600 million on the first generation of the Volt, including nearly $1 billion in tax credits. Excluding the subsidies, the cumulative loss triples to $1.8 billion:


· Ziv (not verified) · 5 years ago

This is great news for GM! Most of the 2012's were sold by the end of August so the bulk of these sales have to be the 2013 MY Volts. The big incentives disappeared September 4th, as well, so these are actually making GM a profit, especially the ones with the Nav and the Leather options.
I am still laughing about the lame articles that try to show GM paying off the entire $1Bn development and tooling cost on the first 20,000 Volts built. Accountants, and businesses, don't work that way. More than 30,000 US Volts have been built already and around 7,000 Euro spec Amperas as well.
That tired old Mackinac study (the supposed $250,000 in subsidies per each of the first 6,000 Volts built) is looking even more contrived than it did a few months ago.
Now if I could just get one of the parking spaces at my condo that has a plug, I will be getting one as well!
For a great graph of how the Volt is increasing both production numbers and sales, take a look at ToppaTom's graph half way down the page on the link below. Great info.

· Anonymous · 5 years ago

When 1 billion $ is spent on research on a product and when it sells 1,000 units, the cost / unit is $1,000,000.

When 10,000 units are sold, then cost / unit = $100,000

Volt has sold more than 25,000 units so far, the cost / unit comes to $40,000.
As they continue to keep selling more and also the same system is applied on other models, cost will come down drastically.

Even for Prius, people kept saying that Toyota suffered loss. Only in 1st 3 years they suffered loss, later they went to sell 4,000,000 hybrid vehicles and from 2012 onwards, they will be selling more than 1,000,000 units / year.

Every year, USA spends $400 billion on importing foreign oil, but no one seems to care about this. Oil is 4 times more expensive than natgas or electricity in energy terms.

· Harrier (not verified) · 5 years ago

Ahem... "Senator" Blutarsky,

In regards to your estimates. Ahhhhh.....no.

You should have just stopped after reading the article by Bob Lutz. You know, "Maximum" Bob.... the guy who basically made the Volt a reality and is a legend in the car industry.

You sir, are not.


The reality is that you just want to make the Volt, the President and Democrats in general look bad. And to give anyone reading this a view of where you are coming from, here are the headlines from a few of your blog posts:

"Democratic Presidents Produce More Combat Deaths, Too"

"Why The Auto Bailout Is Far Costlier Than Treasury Claims"

"The Morally Deformed Patriotism of the Democratic Party"

"Forbes' Defense of GM Is A Steaming Pile of FAIL"

You are hardly an honest broker of information.

· Senator Blutarsky (not verified) · 5 years ago


I have used Bob Lutz' data in my estimates. And ad hominem attacks on me don't actually contradict any of the analysis I have presented.

It is true that I am generally conservative.

It is also true that I have made a great effort to fairly present the economics of the Volt. For example, I notice that your list of my blog posts included many that are not germane to the Volt, while conspicuously omitting my post defending GM and the Volt against Reuters' erroneous claim that "GM loses $49,000 for every Volt it builds."


I'll welcome any reasoned critiques of the financial analysis I've presented.

· Senator Blutarsky (not verified) · 5 years ago

Anonymous is correct that development costs are properly amortized over the useful life of the relevant products. This was the fundamental error in Reuters' analysis, and why my analysis includes forward looking estimates.

Every Volt that rolls off the assembly line today is handsomely profitable on that basis of its marginal costs. The key issue is whether GM can sell enough over the Volt's life cycle to recover its development costs, including capital costs that seem to be frequently ignored by both Volt bulls and Volt bears.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

Only the Research cost on a fuel saving vehicle like Volt is calculated, but so much Research $ is spent on gas guzzlers, and that is never calculated.

A Hummer H2 which cost $50,000 would have incurred another $50,000 for its owner for the gasoline for its 10 year life. Did anyone calculate the cost for that. Also that vehicle would have sent all those petro-dollars to countries like Saudi Arabia which did 9/11.

As the gas prices went thru the roof, nearly 10 SUV models were phased out while few more were re-designed as Crossovers. In the same way, its possible that many vehicles of today could be re-designed as Hybrids & Plugins.

I dont know how well the EVs could sell, but certainly Plugins are coming and they will save the fuel for the country.

· Ohio (not verified) · 5 years ago

Blutarsky states: "THE BOTTOM LINE: even with generous assumptions, the first generation of the Chevrolet Volt will consume about $1 billion in federal tax credits, and STILL result in an economic loss to GM shareholders in excess of $600 million over its lifetime.Without the subsidies, the cumulative loss would triple to $1.8 billion."

The biggest unmentioned caveat (although there are others) in your modeling is your assumption to not spread out the costs over subsequent generations of the Volt. Even if we take your conclusion at face value, so what? I see the same errors in logic as Reuters arrived at. On what plausible basis do you assume that there is no value of the research to all subsequent generations? Where is it written that the ROI must be realized within the first generation?

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

Seeing as it took so much cash to design the volt in the first place at GM (I'd think that others could have done the design for 1/20th the cost - that's another issue and explains a lot about GM) , why is it that they now want to throw in a big 2000 cc turbo in the 2014 model and have to totally redesign everything, when the basic car is good enough and they havent fully amortized the old car yet?

· Senator Blutarsky (not verified) · 5 years ago

Ohio - I don't think its an unmentioned caveat. I think it's actually mentioned in the very quote you cite, in which I specify "first generation."

In any event, you are correct, as I state in the original post, that this analysis only covers the first generation, and includes neither development costs nor income from successive iterations of the Volt.

I don't know where it is "written that the ROI must be realized within the first generation," but wherever it is, it is not on my blog.

The post was just getting very lengthy, so I decided that in the interest of making it more digestible, I would split the analysis up, with future generations and ancillary issues addressed in future posts.

· Anonymous1 (not verified) · 5 years ago

Like to see Gm make a nice profit on the Volt, but if not, well , i've got mine.

· Ohio (not verified) · 5 years ago

My point is that your conclusion does not provide any disclaimers. Taken into context over the lifetime of the entire Voltec powertrain (and not just the Volt), it also has the possibility of being a bargain. Your wording may mislead someone into concluding that the level of these initial losses are not acceptable. Making up numbers here, if GM were to eventually realize a profit of over 100 billion on subsequent iterations of Voltec powertrain technology (that otherwise would not have occurred), then the required initial losses should be appropriately viewed in that perspective.

· Rob Peterson (not verified) · 5 years ago


This is Rob Peterson from Chevrolet Communications.

Your analysis, while much more thoughtful, suffers from the same short-sighted assumptions made by Reuters.

First, conservative guesstimates of limited publicly available guesstimates does not make the information any more accurate, it only makes the analysis different. Second, as others have pointed out, the benefits of technologies developed are not limited to the first generation - they will benefit the second and third generations as well.

Like other analysis the fact that several technologies developed for the Volt have already found their way into other vehicles in GM's portfolio is ignored. Technologies such as the battery management systems for the Buick LaCrosse E-Assist and Malibu Eco, electric motors in the forthcoming Spark EV, low-rolling resistant tires on the Cruze Eco and the entire powertrain into the Cadillac ELR (which you did mention) were derived from the Volt.

Also ignored is the halo affect of being the leader in technology. Roughly 60 percent of vehicles traded in for a Volt are non-GM. Your analysis excludes the long-term benefits of attracting new customers who join the ranks of the most satisfied owners in the industry (based on Consumer Reports most recent owners satisfaction survey).

Cost and ROI calculations for automobiles are complex and highly competitive. They must account for tangible and intangible costs and benefits and reflect the impact to the entire portfolio over many years. You only need to look at the impact of the Prius to Toyota portfolio (a vehicle who's humble beginnings mirror those of the Volt) to completely understand that there is more than meets the eyes when introducing an all-new technology.


· Iletric (not verified) · 5 years ago

And finally ... you cannot put a price on the acidified oceans utterly absent of oxygen-producing green plankton, as we suffocate in CO2 smothered planet, while feebly griping with our dying breath about the federal government-sponsored Volt.

· Senator Blutarsky (not verified) · 5 years ago


Thanks for taking the time to read the post and comment.

I agree that the benefits of the Volt's development costs are not limited to the first iteration of the car. The post was getting very long and so I decided to break up the analysis into more digestible parts, and as I note in today's post, in posts in the not-too-distant future I will offer analysis of future iterations of the Volt, as well as some of the ancillary benefits GM may realize from the Volt across the rest of its' product line.

As you know perhaps better than anyone, the signal-to-noise ratio in public discourse on the Volt is depressingly low. I am trying to remedy that in some small way (You may have seen my earlier post in which I defended the Volt against Reuters' claim of huge losses on each marginal Volt built).

Since you took an interest in this portion of the analysis, and there are more to come, I would welcome a dialogue. I don't have your contact information but I invite you to email me at ussenatorjohnblutarsky - at - gmail - dot - com. I want this analysis to be as fair and accurate as possible, and would welcome your input.

· · 5 years ago

Blutarsky . . . I fail to see that you've have added anything new to the argument against the Volt. While you dispense with the histrionics of burning batteries and the like, you simply (re)advance the anti-bailout accountability rhetoric tirelessly trumpeter by so many on the far right these past few years.

While we're on subjects of accountability, have you gotten permission for using the late John Belushi's image on your blog? The "Senator Blutarsky" tag you go by is, as I'm sure you're aware, a direct lift from the movie Animal House. I assume you've cleared all of this with either the Belushi family estate or NBC Universal, who probably manages copyright affairs on those matters?

· · 5 years ago

Senator Bluto, and all other conservatives who are obsessed (in a negative way) with the Chevy Volt.

Republicans, your message seems to be: "We are hoping for the failure of the Chevy Volt, a high-tech car designed and built in Detroit, because we are job creators." This would be funnier if it were not so sad.

Here's something that may or not be funny depending on how you lean, politically.

Ohio is a key swing state in presidential elections. Ohio is also third in the nation in the number of jobs in the automotive industry. Romney is lagging Obama by a very wide margin in Ohio polls in part, I suspect, because the Republican anti-auto industry rhetoric. Good job conservatives. Shoot yourself in the foot more often.

Rant alert: (yes it gets worse) I had voted Republican for decades but had to change. There are some strange things going on in the Republican party. Republicans turn things into political footballs that have no place in politics. The obsession with a single model of car is just one example of conservative strangeness. Just a few years ago I argued against climate change evidence and I'm pretty darned educated in science. I'm an electrical engineer. Without doing any serious research I said things like, "Volcano emissions overwhelm fossil fuel emissions." When I finally did some real digging I found out that fossil fuel CO2 emissions are 80 times greater than all volcanoes on Earth in a year of HIGH volcanic activity. In a year of low volcanic activity fossil fuel emissions are 230 times higher. The average is 130 to 1. I already anticipate conservatives disputing this fact. This information comes from the Unites States Geological Survey. http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php

Keep it up Republicans and you will lose more voters like you lost me.

· · 5 years ago

If everything goes as planned I'll be driving a Volt in 2013. I'll definitely let my conservative friends drive the car.

· ThomasF (not verified) · 5 years ago

Rob Peterson pointed out the benefits of having a halo car like the Volt, but I'd just like to expand on that point.

A huge portion of Volt Sales are occurring in California. GM has about a 9% market share in California, compared to over 17% nationwide. If the Volt continues to rehab GM's image in California it could provide a huge boost to their overall market share just by bringing their share of the California market up to the national level.

· Max Reid (not verified) · 5 years ago

Mr Smith

When small amount of coal or gas is burned, it warms our home / office, if 14 billion tons of Coal, Oil & Gas is burnt, the whole planet gets warm. This is simple Physics. Of course, in some years nature could play extra cooling which could result in net temperatures being cooler than previous year(s). But overall, slowly its warming up.

Anyway, coming to Volt, everyone knows that this is a revolutionary game changing vehicle. Many Volt owners who drive the vehicle daily go to gas station only once a month. This angers people who love the Big Oil and so they want to kill the Volt at any cost, so that other companies don't sell similar vehicle.

The Volt MY-2013 has 38 mile range and should sell even better. Also the upcoming C-Max Plug priced @33K and has 20 mile range should sell even better.

· · 5 years ago

I think smithjim1961 has already come around to your (our) side of the climate change argument, Max. Give the last paragraph of his post another read-through.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Senator Blutarsky,

In your analysis, you keep repeating the $10k discount model. That is wrong. Majority of that $10k is due to the $7.5k tax credits. When you lease a car, the tax credits go to Leasing company, NOT you. Also, some of the state incentives also go to Leasing company. That contributes mainly to the $10k discount.

Also, $7.5k starting to phase out after 60,000 and completely end at 200,000 unit. So your $1Billion is wrong. Even it is $1Billion, it is okay. B/c it is MY MONEY. In order to qualify for it, you would have to have tax liability. Volt is NOT the only car that gets it. Other EVs gets it as well.

People get tax deduction for having a religious donation, having kids, buying debt (mortgage), having an education. Those are all choices. So, it is NOTHING wrong with Volt buyer getting it too since they are SAVING the air that you are breathing in AND saving more gasoline so the rest of America can burn them at a cheaper price.

If you are going to keep saying that tax payers are funding it, then I am going to ask for my share of money that you spend on defending your oil interest back...

Also, 47% of America don't pay Fed Income Tax, so stop whining about "the tax payer money" until those people start to pay it. Afterall, it is MY MONEY.

· Former caddy owner (not verified) · 5 years ago


Let's say everything you say is true. Don't you want your money back? If the Republicans had not been given marching orders to hate the Volt by the likes of the Rusher and Glenny and all the other haters, sales would probably be even better.

So, you bite your nose to spite your face. There's a famous picture of a pit bull that had a run in with a porcupine. Had he not been rescued, he would have died. But, he kept at it until you couldn't see his face for the quills.

You, sir would rather lose your tax dollars that you wail about losing. Since you are totally illogical to begin with, why should I believe anything you say?

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

I wish we could all play nice here.

I enjoy, and am happy I purchased both my EV products. A 2011 volt and a 2011 tesla.

They are very different surprisingly. The Volt is the most complicated car I've ever owned, and the Tesla is the simplest, although to date the Volt has been the more reliable. This is not to knock other products.

Others here absolutely LOVE the Nissan Leaf; I've test driven it and it is impressive, keeping in the back of your mind its shortcomings. Unfortunately, the way things go, no early product offering turns out to be perfect.

I just wish people wouldn't insult other's intelligence.

I have come to certain conclusions which close readers here will, well, at least acknowledge. But in keeping with Plug-In-Cars policy, please try to avoid ad hominem attacks. (this is where you attack the person himself instead of the proposed idea).

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

This is going to drive smithjim1961 and others here nuts, and it is not necessaryily an appropriate forum for plug in cars.com, but a British court has found for the plaintifs on the first 9 errors (there are 35, but by the court's admission they didn't have the time or resources to examine the other 26), and IF Al Gore's movie is to be shown to school children in Britain, it must be accompanied by information showing there 9 glaring errors in the film. These 35 Inconvenient Truths make for an interesting read.


IMHO AGH as they say, is a looney idea. I'm entitled to my studied opinion. I'm not saying this lightly. While I am not overwhelmed or overly impressed by letters after people's names, I do have twice the scientific background of Mr. Gore.

That said, please remember in the preceding post I cautioned about ad-hominem reasoning. Fact based discussion is encouraged, but this subject always seems to raise hairs on people's necks. My point in this particular post is Fairness. I did not want it to seem to casual observers that there is unanimous opinion on this subject amoungst Plug-IN-Cars posters.

· · 5 years ago

Bill . . . You seem like a reasonably intelligent individual. So I find your position on the whole climate change issue to be a bit baffling. Granted, Al Gore is an easy target, in that he's not a trained scientist and probably possesses other unrelated public policy positions you don't happen to agree with.

But this doesn't change the fact that the vast majority of the scientific community agrees with what he expresses in his books and media regarding climate change. He's only the public face behind a very large authoritative and informed consensus that now includes a fairly large consensus across political party lines and spanning organization as diverse as private industry and the Department of Defense .

Most of the arguments have have moved beyond if climate change is real or not, or if it isn't mostly human caused. Rather, most are now concerned with what, if anything, can be done about it.

But let's take a look at The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) for a moment. You've presented them as a credible source to debunk Al Gore and, presumably, the very large scientific community who stands behind him. Have you thought to investigate who, exactly, the SPPI is? Well, someone has . . .


It appears, according to SourceWatch, that the SPPI is not a non-profit, as they declare on their own site but, in fact, little more than a front for Exxon/Mobil.

As the old saying goes . . . "Follow the money."

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Benjamin Nead.

Frankly I'm a bit surprised. This is exactly the sort of adhominem criticism I tried to deflect in my 2 posts prior to yours. Knowledge is where you find it. I'm not greatly concerned about the motivation, and Exxon Mobil to my knowledge has basically said "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." They are trying to make profits off this AGW (again in my opinion, again, I'm attacking the idea, not the person, NONSENSE). I think the EX-CEO of Exxon took a more principled view ( Something Lee? I forget his name), but the new guy there has signed on to AGW hook line and sinker. I don't even believe Exxon is a reputable company, something I talk about greatly here. My beef with them is bullying smaller competive refineries through underhanded tactics. The point is the High Court of London ruled against " an inconvenient truth ". Please, this weekend, read the above article I have linked. All you have to do is click the link and scroll down. Its somewhat heavy reading.

The basic complaint when the Warren Commision came out with its 26? Volumes on the death of JFK was it was too heavy reading. The Perpetrators took comfort in "The American People don't Read". But as Jim Garrison (The New Orleans DA who was the only public official who actually prosecuted the death of JFK) was found of saying, "SOME OF US DO READ".

Concensus is of no use, as you will read in the link. Albert Einstein was forever critcized for his energy in joules = Kilograms * ((300 E6)meters/sec) ^2 formula that it was JEWISH SCIENCE or that 100 OF THE BEST GERMAN ENGINEERS unamimously formed a consensus against him. He said, "Show me one scientist who can PROVE me wrong!". Actually, many members of the IPCC world's top scientists disagree with their conclusions and have asked to be removed, but this is getting into the weeds. Thats precisely the point of these two paragraphs. You have to DIG. Most people will not DIG.

Nothing good in life comes honestly without DIGGING. If you notice, all criticisms of AGW skeptics (I'm not skeptical, labeling me that would be far too generous. I'm where Bob Lutz used to be, I don't know if they've 'gotten' to him yet). As far as the Republican party, and Romney goes, he believes in AGW, Carbon Taxes, Agenda 21, et al, at least this week. Thats the thing about Romney. As Stephen Colbert has said, no one really likes him. I know I'm not voting for him.

If its too much effort to read the information I've provided please just agree to disagree. There is plenty more material besides this, but Monckton is at the same time articulate and succinct. The purpose of my previous post was to shed some light on closed dogma to show Incidental Curious Eyes that all subjects are not Open and Shut. I'm not being paid to give this info so in lieu of that I feel I can speak my mind, even if it disagrees with some of the employees or official policy of PICars.com.

It is my attempt to pry open the door of at least the attempt of an "open minded forum".

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Ben Nead
That part about All AGW skeptics should have been amplified to say that skeptics are always adhominemly attacked, or that it is out of the main stream concensus, which in Science, is a useless tack.
Science is done by observation by otherwise uninterested parties, and testing and repeatability. Anything else is 'junk science'. I'm always reluctant to post the last 3 postings. But I feel a responsibilty to Casual Viewers that in technical discussions, an open mind is akin to first principles.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Ben Nead

Just as a PROOF that Exxon Mobile has indeed supported AGW you will recall some years ago adds from the company stating in so many words " Electricity (at the time) is mostly generated by that horrid, dirty coal, and so purchasing an EV1 will contribute to Global Warming due to purchasing more Electricity". Oh Horrrors!

· · 5 years ago

OK, Bill . . . we could drag this out ad infinitum. As the Amish are fond of saying, though, let's not and say we did. I guess I should just be glad you're driving electrically and - whether you want to believe so or not - not contributing to further global warming by doing so.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Benjamin Nead.

Agreed. This is a public commons. There is no need to see eye to eye on every subject. A variety of viewpoints spices up the conversation anyway.

· · 5 years ago

Smithjim 1961,. What does your anti-Republican rant have to do with anything?

Now put the remote down, and step away from the MSNBC.

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