Thursday, July 26, 2012

Volt Sales - Updated through September 2012

Below are 2012 Domestic Sales numbers for the Chevrolet Volt. 

GM does NOT consider a delivery to a dealership as a sale.  The reported numbers are purchased Volts by a customer.

I update the below graph and data monthly.  Bookmark this thread.

Some of the media are saying the Volt is a flop, and is failing.  Does this look like failure to you?


I want to explain the Purple and Yellow line. 

The purple line shows sales if you took that month and multiplied it by 12.  It would give you the annual sales rate based on just a single month's sales.  Obviously, this is not a good indicator of sales, which is why the media should be more careful when using ANY single month as an example of yearly car sales.  I am really using it as a scaler, as the sales numbers overlayed against the higher figures are negatively biased in this graph.

The yellow line shows estimated annualized sales if you added up previous sales including the charted month, and then extended that sales rate for the year.  The increasing rate shows that sales are accelerating month to month.  It normalizes the large individual sales spike in March, and does a better job showing the improving sales picture.


The Volt is the number one selling electric vehicle.  The above graph gives you some YTD sales numbers of the Volt's primary competitors.


According to, the Volt outsold almost every hybrid in America.  It is the number one selling American owned and produced hybrid, including all electric cars.

The Volt has outsold year to date in the hybrid/electric/PHEV categories:
Prius PHV
Nissan LEAF
Smart forTwo EV
Ford Focus Electric
BMW Active E
Mitsubishi i 

Chevy Malibu Hybrid
Buick LaCrosse
Lexus RX400/450h
Kia Optima
Ford Fusion
Honda Civic
Honda Insight
Toy. Highlander
Linc. MKZ Hybrid
Honda CR-Z
Ford Escape
Buick Regal
Porsche Cayenne
Lexus HS 250h
Cad. Escalade
Infiniti M35h
Chevy Tahoe
GMC Yukon Hybrid
Chevy Silverado
Porsche Panamera S
BMW Hybrid 7
Lexus GS450h
Acura ILX
VW Touareg Hybrid
Mazda Tribute
Mercedes S400HV
GMC Sierra
Lexus LS600hL
Mercedes ML450
BMW ActiveHybrid5 (535ih)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Debunking Seton Motley: Dealing with Absurdity

ATTN:  Unlike Seton Motley, if you see anything below that you feel is not accurate, and you can correct it with appropriately sourced material, comment below.  I will consider all corrections to details in this article.

It is a sign of the times when Matt Drudge decides to link to a blogger's site as a source of legitimate news, especially when that blogger is clearly not in touch with reality or the truth.  He did so last week when linking to a blogger named, Seton Motley.  Ironically, the blog entry is mentioned as an 'Update,' when most of the material sourced within the blog is old news, some of it almost 2 years old.  Seton has just recycled and mischaracterized old information.  I have thoroughly debunked his attempts in the past associate the Volt with fires.  I have attempted to have Seton correct his misinformation, yet he refuses to do so.  If he did, his argument against the Volt would be limited.  It is now necessary to confront his misinformation.  In fact, show me one Seton Motley interview or article that isn't filled with inaccurate, false, or misleading information, and I'll be amazed.  I am going to link you to his latest blog entry on the Volt so you can read it in its entirety.  Debunking his posts are an exercise in tedium, so while I don't discuss everything, I do hit the big issues.

One other thing to keep in mind.  As you see all the liberties that Seton takes with 'version' of the truth, take note that he is routinely on radio and television.  That means that a lot of people hear what he has to say, believe it is true, and move on.  It is sad when such misinformed people, like Seton, are given such a loud platform by which to spread their lies.

This is the offending blog:
Seton uses a few tactics to make his points, which often fail when compared to rational and logical arguments. 
Tactic 1: Guilt By Association.
Tactic 2: Using outdated and usurped material.
Tactic 3: Just plain bad logic.  Seton often strings together things that are completely unrelated to attempt to make a point.
Let's start to examine his latest blog post.  I am attempting to respond to as many of his inaccuracies as possible. 
SETON BLOG: The Press has failed to mention at least five Volt fires, myopically focusing on the one the Obama Administration hand-selected for attention.
The Press hasn't failed to do anything.  The Press has likely seen, as I have previous posted, that there has only been one Volt fire, a fire that happened during a government test crash.  I explain this in great detail in one of my blog entries, complete with lots of sources.  I suggest reading it, because I'm not going to rehash it in this entry.

In addition to the government testing and garage fires that I have meticulously and accurately explained, he also says:
SETON BLOG: In January, GMcalled back” every single Volt ever sold in the U.S., to fix the allegedly already “fixed” battery….
Technically, it wasn't a recall.  GM did this voluntarily after the NHTSA tests exposed an area of concern, and GM made the correction before any government mandated recall was necessary.  I don't know why he says the battery was allegedly 'already fixed' as this is the only corrective action GM has made with regards to the battery.  The correction basically adds some extra steel around the battery cage to protect it more from intrusion in a severe accident.  This is the first example Seton uses to make it seem like GM is failing to make the Volt a safer car.  Here is the second:
SETON BLOG: But that didn’t fix the problem either. So in March Chevrolet announced they were replacing the power cords for nearly every single Volt ever sold in the U.S…
Actually, the battery cage enhancement did satisfy the government.  It did fix the only battery related issue to date with the Chevy Volt.  Completely unrelated to the battery was an issue with the car provided charging equipment (EVSE).   An EVSE is essentially an expensive extension cord which interfaces the charger that is built into the car with your wall power (in this case, 120 Volts).  The plug for this EVSE was not very rugged.  People were hanging these EVSEs by the plug, as opposed to properly mounting them to the wall with a bracket. Imagine you have a chest high mounted standard outlet, and you plug your alarm clock up to this outlet, allowing the alarm clock to dangle on the wall and not resting on a table or the floor, with all the weight on the plug as it connects to the outlet.  This would result in wear on the outlet, cord and plug. There were some reports of damage to the plug, which could have lead to a fire.  In an abundance of caution, and since people were clearly using the EVSEs in a manner that was not in accordance to the manufacturer's guidelines, they replaced the cords and plugs on the EVSEs with a heavier duty version.   This is not related to the Volt fire.  This is not related to the garage fires.  This is not related to any battery issues.  It was component that needed updating. 

SETON BLOG: And on Wednesday (April 11), a General Motors (GM) lithium-ion battery exploded and caused a fire at a research facility near its Detroit headquarters. Most unfortunately, …one employee faces life-threatening injuries

Lithium-ion batteries like this one are used by GM in the Chevy Volt. Making this just the latest in a long line of Volt fire problems.
Seton uses Guilt by association for this.  GM was testing, by their own accounts, prototype batteries in 'extreme conditions' that are 'not in any production car' including the Volt.   Since this wasn't a Volt battery, by extending his logic, since one lithium battery exploded, we could conclude that all lithium batteries must be dangerous.  This obiously isn't the case.   Have the rest of you thrown out the numerous other devices in your house that use lithium batteries?  I didn't think so.  Another strike for false Seton logic...

SETON BLOG: The Press has failed to mention that the Volt fire problem remains unsolved. Is it the battery? Is it the charging station? Is it the charging cable? All of the above?
The correct answer to his question is 'None of the above'.  The Volt battery issue was resolved in January.  "Is it the charging station?"  Again, Seton uses the 'outdated and usurped material' tactic in this instance.  During one of the garage fires in which the Volt was cleared of fault, Duke Energy initially told its customers to stop using the charging station they had installed for early adopters, as it was present in one of the two garage fires.  After an investigation, Duke would clear the charging station of any blame.  Does this matter to Seton?  Nope.  I actually sent him a link the the article where Duke Energy is quoted.    No corrections.  And since the 'charging cable' issue to the best of my knowledge hasnt been linked to any fire, I'm not even sure why he is mentioning it.  Misdirection?

SETON BLOG: “The Press has for the most part failed to mention how pathetic this “second-best sales month” actually is. And even when one Dinosaur does, the unwarranted enthusiasm is palpable.
Wow. Huge number.
The Press also fails to put this pathetic tally in perspective.

Actually, I think the press has done a pretty good job at putting this number into perspective.  Year to date, there are only 6 hybrid cars and zero electric or hybrid electric vehicles that have outsold the Volt.  The Volt has actually outsold, year to date,  over 30 other cars in those categories.  In fact, the Volt is the number one selling American owned and made hybrid car.  The Volt has outsold other notable hybrids such as the Honda Civic, Insight, Ford Fusion, and Chevy Malibu.  Seton goes on to compare the Volt to the Chevy Cruze, an econobox, that has already sold over 100k cars in the first 6 months.  If you compare just about ANY car to the Chevy Cruze, it will look like a failure.  The Volt and the Cruze may share the same chassis, but this is common in the industry.  There have been Toyota platforms that were also sold under the Lexus name, and VW that sold under Audi, to name a few.  Just because the Volt is built on a Cruze platform doesn't mean the car is just a 'Cruze with batteries'.  Since the top 4 traded cars for the Volt are the Prius, Camry, Civic Hybrid, and BMW 3 series, all cars that carry a large premium over the Cruze, it is safe to say the Volt is much more heavily valued than a 17k Cruze.

SETON BLOG: And speaking of the Volt’s ridiculous $41,000 sticker price
There goes Seton, again, using outdated information.  The 2012 Volt reduced the base price to ~40k.  Seton is quoting the price of the base 2011 Volt.  But this is onpar with the rest of his very outdated analysis.  The following being the worst:

SETON BLOG: According to multiple GM executives there is little or no profit being made on each Volt built at a present cost of around $40,000. Furthermore, the $700 million of development that went into the car has to be recouped

Where does he get this?  An article published back in 2010, almost 2 years old, in which an executive stated that it will take some time to amortize the expenses out of the Volt development, and that it will take a while to increase the per unit profit.  Why is this news?  This is the case for many new vehicles, especially ones that have a lot of new technology.  The Toyota Prius was reported to sell at a loss of 10k per car when it was initially sold in the United States.  They are now selling over 15k a month, presumable at a reasonable profit, as they have earned back their R&D.  Why should the Volt be any different?  Does Seton want GM to produce the same model year after year, never refresh its lines, so that it can be made completely irrelevant?

SETON BLOG: Speaking of those “tax breaks for purchasers and other consumer incentives” - as of November of last year that tally all by itself was $250,000 per Volt sold.
I'll let you read the following link that discuss the credibility of that report.  It may be interesting for the reader to note that the Koch Brothers have funded the Mackinac Center.  The Koch Brothers have wealth in the billions, and are heavily invested in the oil and gas industry.  Can you really trust a study from a group that being partially funded by essentially oil and gas investors?

I also find the view of subsidies incomplete.  While electric vehicles definitely enjoy some government incentives, according to our own government, we spend between $6 billion and $60 billion a year to protect Middle Eastern Oil Reserves.  This is an ENORMOUS indirect subsidy that every consumer in America gets, as that military protection is stabilizing worldwide oil prices.

So who is really getting the biggest subsidy?

SETON BLOG: And with GM’s new 60-day return policy, it looks like you can buy a Volt and cash the $7,500 bribe check. Then return the Volt - and keep the $7,500 bribe cash. How’s that for Taxpayer coin stewardship?

Is there a possibility of fraud as a result of loopholes in the government tax credit?  It is possible.  I am trying to get some details on this.  This isn't so much a Volt problem, as it is an IRS problem.  So in a blog filled with inaccurate data from Seton, it is possible he got one thing partially right.   Then again, given his track record, I won't be betting the house on his revelation. 

In conclusion, if a blogger were really trying to make an informed audience, he would not resort to any of the tactics that Seton uses.  It is dishonest.  It purposely distorts the argument and misinforms its readers.  Seton's blog is an embarrassment to the truth.  He is obviously ignoring any data that stands to tear down his poorly constructed arguments.   I hope the rest of you can see through it.  While there are good discussions that can be had about electric cars, lets build those discussions on an honest debate, not a facade of the truth.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

6 months of owning a Chevy Volt: The costs and experiences

I have now owned my 2012 Chevy Volt for a little over 6 months. This past Saturday marked my 6 month anniversary that I marked by traveling about 160 miles round trip for a July 4th weekend with my family. A trip that was made possible due to the gas generator coupled with my initial electric range of about 44 miles. For the past two weeks, much of the country has been experiencing a record heat wave. Extreme heat definitely reduces electric range. Had I opted for the Nissan Leaf, I seriously doubt I would have made the 80 mile initial leg on a fully charged battery, and had I been able to eek it out, it would have been a pucker moment for sure, as I would have literally coasted into my Aunt's house on fumes. But that is the beauty of the Volt. While critics like to laugh at an electric car with a gas engine, this is precisely why it is such a brilliant idea: Range anxiety is nonexistent... even battery degradation, which will occur over time, doesn’t mean as much to someone who has a gasoline backup.

So, let's talk about my numbers. Some of the images below were made last Tuesday before I went on vacation. Slightly dated, but it isn't worth me editing a bunch of new screen shots to add a few miles.

I make this chart weekly.  As you can see, the savings on the car is pretty amazing at my level of driving.  At the 6 month mark, I am driving an annualized 22,000 miles a year.  I am managing to maintain my 95% all electric driving that I have written about for the past 6 months.  So, even a high mileage driver, someone who commutes 70 miles a day, is able to burn next to no gas.

How is this significant?  Well, the average car sold in America last year was rated at about 22 MPG.  That means that I will NOT burn about 1,000 gallons a year with the Volt.  Multiply that by 5 years, and you get 5,000 gallons.  I think we all know that 5,000 gallons is a helluva lot of fuel saved.  What does 5,000 gallons look like?

This is what 5,000 gallons looks like.  So, don't kid yourself.  The potential to save massive amounts of money through not burning gas is there.  Sure, if you wanted to drive a Prius, you'd only save about 2,100 gallons of fuel during 5 years ;)  Still nothing to laugh about.

The data below is courtesy of  They collect data multiple times a day directly from my car's computer.  I cannot manually input data or tamper with their statistics.  The first chart is my mileage over time.  Green represents electric miles while the blue is gas miles.  You'll notice my gas miles have barely moved.  The majority of my gas miles were during the first week of ownership, when I had not established a charging routine at work.

With the above graph, you can see my MPG as it changes per month.  If I used little to no gas in a month, it will be represented by 1000 MPG.  Voltstats will not publish MPG above 1000 in these charts.  I burned a little gas in May, driving the car to the Lake, which is why it dipped for that month.  February was cold, as I would often just start to burn a little gas as I approached work.

My Accomplishments:

So, I am approaching 10,000 miles on a SINGLE tank of gas.  I managed to drive 115 miles all electric in one day (multiple charges).  And my current record is 2,800 concurrent miles without burning a single drop of gas.  I think this is pretty impressive.  But what is more impressive is that there are a good number of Volt owners that have done better than I have.  While I am in the top 15%, I am not in the top 5% in any category.

And for those that question the electricity usage.  This is a side by side of this year's and last year's electricity use.  While the Volt has definitely used electricity, I have actually used LESS overall electricity in the previous 6 months of charging a Volt than I did last year without an electric car.  The climate had more effects on my electricity bill than the Volt did by a long shot.

2012 Total: 9,544 kWh       2011 Total: 9,797 kWh

Clearly the Volt is not electricity hog, even when I charge it from practically zero almost every single day.  My electricity bills confirm what is being reported to me as the kWhs consumed through and the built-in meter in my Aerovironment charging station.

The car is performing to my VERY high level of expectations.  To date, my car has not been in for service for anything other than factory suggested corrections, and that was for a total of 2 days in which I was given a rental car by GM.  I have personally added only 3.5 gallons to the car since I purchased it on January, 7, 2012.  This car, hands down, is a world changer.