It was quite obvious that the Chevrolet Volt had a lot more to deliver, that its measly US sales numbers last year didn’t represent the kind of demand that it had attracted. Since GM stopped holding back on the availability of the vehicle, its success has been startling.

For one, the Volt managed to surpass its closest sales rival Nissan Leaf and be the first plug-in electric to reach 100,000 lifetime sales in the US. Two years ago, this seemed unlikely.

It is worth noting that the series-parallel hybrid has done so with virtually no backing from GM’s massive advertising expenditure, save for one small ad campaign late last year criticizing the Leaf and Toyota Prius.

And this is no joke – the Detroit automaker is the biggest spender in advertising worldwide. The Volt is currently the second top-selling plug-in electric stateside this year, about 2,000 units behind the Tesla Model S.

2017 Tesla Model S

2017 Tesla Model S

Now that it has beaten the Leaf, GM would surely shift its attention to the domestic sales top spot. It would be quite a feat to overtake the Model S, which was the best-selling EV in the world in 2015, but unlike Tesla, GM isn’t plagued with sluggish production issues.

Tesla has recently promised that the production rate hiccups for the Model S and Model X at its Fremont plant has been settled, and that for the rest of the year its churn-out should go smoothly. But haven’t we heard that numerous times before?

With that in mind, it is actually possible for the Volt to push ahead of the Model S and claim the US sales crown for 2016. Plus it wouldn’t need any advertising support, because whatever GM is doing, it seems to be working incredibly well.


Angel Klanchar · August 14, 2016 at 6:48 am

Glad to see Chevy finally is broadening it’s availability of plug in vehicles. When we were EV shopping, we were completely shot down at Chevy (interested in the Spark, for my daughter) and Mitsubishi- informing us that they didn’t sell any plug in electric cars in Florida. I didnt ask specifically for the Volt since it is a hybrid, so unsure if we were in there existing sales market. Ford said they could order one of the EVS for me, but warned me that nobody around here has ever serviced one, and they weren’t willing to get one at the dealership unless it was presold to the customer. Mercedes was kinder- found a Mercedes dealer a few states north of us that did have an all electric Smart car that I could see, if I wanted to test drive and check one out before ordering. They also admitted/claimed to know nothing about the car- though assured me that they would have a properly trained tech, if I end up getting one.

The low sales numbers aren’t shocking when the cars are only made availabe in limited areas.

I have no doubt that many of the existing EVS would see much greater sales, if the dealerships were actually interested in making those sales.

Rob Stark · August 14, 2016 at 11:26 am

The Volt doesn’t have sluggish production but it does have sluggish demand.

So far Volt has had about $390M in US demand.

Tesla has had about $1500M in US Model S demand.

Marcus · August 16, 2016 at 8:37 am

Can you imagine if General Motors actually advertised the Volt? I do not think they would be able to keep up with demand, which is probably why the don’t advertise. New Volts are typically pre-sold & custom ordered and that says it all! Until an electric car can travel at least 500 km (in Winter!), “normally”, the Volt is the perfect car for our time and an engineering marvel. A vehicle that can only travel 200-250 km (in Winter!) is functionally absurd.

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