John Ransom

The good news for GM these days is that no one has been consumed in a fiery death due to engine compartment fires since the Chevy Volt was discovered to spontaneous combust after accidents shortly after production began.

The bad news for the company is that while Chevy Volt sales in June set a record, prior to June their sales for 2013 sucked despite general auto sales setting post-crash records.

“With signs that sales of its Chevrolet Volt battery car could be coming unplugged,” reported NBC News in June, “General Motors is offering potential buyers as much as $5,000 in incentives – making it the latest maker to try to cut prices in a bid to boost lagging demand for electric vehicles.”

In June the company reported 2,698 Volts sold thanks to those drastic discounts by GM. In fact, all battery-powered cars have seen deep price cuts due to disappointing sales.

“For the first five months of this year,” said NBC News, “GM has sold only 7,157 of what it prefers to call an extended-range electric vehicle, or E-REV. May sales, in particular, fell 4.3 percent, to 1,607. By comparison, the overall U.S. automotive market was up 8.2 percent for the month. According to a report by Inside EVs, Chevy dealers have more than 9,000 Volts clogging inventories, vehicles they need to clear out before the 2014 models start rolling in.”

That makes 6,302 excess Volts just weeks before the 2014 models are supposed to come off the assembly line. Or, to calculate another way, that’s 2 1/3 months of inventory assuming all the suckers haven’t already purchased Volts in the new and reduced “free” lunch program run by General Motors.

The ridiculous list price for the Volt started out at $46,000. Since then it’s been lowered to $39,995. The price is still ridiculous because the Volt is basically the Chevy Cruze with a big battery.

The Cruze by contrast has an MSRP of between $17,000-$23,000.

To lull consumers, the federal government gives a credit to Volt buyers of $7,500, plus GM, starting in June, discounted the price by another $4,000-$5,000 depending on the model year.

That means a buyer can pay around $28,000 for the privilege of buying a car that goes 38 miles on a full battery charge and has all the amenities of car that costs $5k less even after Volt discounts, subsidies, giveaways.

Boosters of the car will bombard me with email bragging about the cost savings with the Chevy Volt because they never have to buy gasoline, but they too often overlook the true cost of an electric vehicle.


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.