2012 Volt Electric Car Brings Chevy Whole New Type Of Customer

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2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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Who buys a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car? 

It’s a question that we’ve tried to answer in the past, examining initial sales data from General Motors to try and create the automotive equivalent of an indentikit Volt buyer. 

Unsurprisingly, many early-adopting Volt buyers were green car fans looking to make the switch to a plug-in hybrid, regardless of who made it. As a consequence, 90 percent of early-adopters were new to the Chevy brand.

Now data from GM shows that trend has continued, with nearly 70percent of new Volt sales to date being made to customers who would traditionally have avoided the Chevy brand. 

Traditionally called “conquest buyers”, these new-to-Chevy buyers are trading in an array of different cars from different automakers. 

Most noticeably however, the most frequently traded-in cars are the Toyota Prius Hybrid, followed by the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and BMW 3-series.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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“Nearly seven in ten Volt buyers are new to Chevrolet,” said Volt marketing manager Christi Landy in a recent press release. “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.”

It’s worth noting of course that while many new Chevy customers go to a Chevy dealer to look at a Volt, not all of them end up buying one. 

For Chevy however, it’s not always a loss: once inside a Chevy dealership -- somewhere they’d not ordinarily shop for a car -- those car buyers who decide a Volt isn’t for them end up buying a different model, such as the 2012 Chevy Cruze

In short, the Volt not only brings in new electric car customers to Chevy, but also new gasoline car customers. 

However, it’s easy to get overexcited over sales data, and worth noting that the only competitor to the Volt at present is the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. 

With little competition from elsewhere, we think it prudent to remember that the true measure of the Volt’s popularity -- just like any other green car --  can only be measured when the plug-in hybrid marketplace has substantially grown.


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Comments (11)
  1. I bet GM would bring even more new buyers, that would never buy a GM product if they would actually come out with a true electric car like the Nissan Leaf.

  2. Yeah, James, the fact that the LEAF is getting killed by the Volt in sales makes your comment amusing... So now selling a lower-selling car brings in more new buyers than a better selling car...?

    That must be the "New Math" I've heard so much about...

  3. I think that GM should bring out a Volt EV. Easy to do from an engineering point of view, take out the ICE, add a few more batteries. Let the customer choose.

  4. Considering the anemic Volt sales numbers, I'd say GM isn't exactly being overwhelmed by new-to-GM potential customers. It will be quite interesting to see what kind of sales numbers the Prius plug-in can generate when it sells. That car is a far easier vehicle to transition to from your typical hybrid or gas powered job.

  5. "anemic"? What are you talking about? Leaf is getting anemic at this point. Prius Plugin is a SCAM. Most people who bought Prius Plugin in California are soley b/c of the Carpool lane stickers. And I know at least two owners of those Prius Plugins who are completely clueless on how little EV miles they are getting. They thought the Prius can go up to 15 EV miles regardless driving style but they are "dumbfounded" when they found out their Prius couldn't in real life driving...

  6. @Xiaolong: Greetings from your friendly moderator. Could I respectfully ask that you stop using the word "scam" in reference to the Toyota Prius Plug-In?

    It occurs pretty much every time you mention the car, and it implies deception or criminality--neither of which seems to be the case.

    I understand that you don't like the car's low electric range, but in the interests of civility, perhaps you could find some other descriptors? Thanks in advance.

  7. if anyone is interested in sales of real evs, coda has sold its first fleet sale to AEP Ohio.


  8. @EV Enthusiast: Thanks for posting that link. But, ummmm, the company's first fleet sale is for ONE vehicle? Yikes.

  9. i guess that is to be expected. this may not be a big company. and so they only want to purchase one, until they make some further evaluations.

    coda is an unknown entity. hopefully the sale to the big rental company is still in the making.

    rental companies can get evs into the hands of people, without said people making any commitments.

    i hope the leaf and any other ev vehicles take this same route. it will help bring greater exposure to evs, even if the current price is out of reach for most people.

  10. "It’s worth noting of course that while many new Chevy customers go to a Chevy dealer to look at a Volt, not all of them end up buying one."

    That's probably because so many dealers don't have Volts on their lot. They have one demo, and that's it (with an outrageous mark up to boot). They then steer the customer to the conventional cars they are comfortable with. They don't see the Volt as a car to sell, just a halo car to bring in customers they can switch to sell what they have on their lot.

  11. I came to the Volt by way of 10 years in two Jeep Grand Cherokees. For me, it was a way to recoup my green principals that I had traded in on for a decade. Granted, I miss the size but I do like the size of my wallet better now!

    I am keeping a blog diary about how I, a 50 year old guy, came to be a Volt leaser and my experiences with it.


    oh--the only side affect I feel right now is a mild depression every time my life time MPG goes below 200 on longer trips.

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