Sales for the Chevrolet Volt hybrid electric car have surged the past few months. Most in the press attributed the increase to California allowing Chevy Volt owners access to the HOV, or carpool, lanes in the state. But there may be another reason: incentives.
General Motors is currently offering a three-year, 36,000-mile lease on the 2012 Chevrolet Volt at $299 a month with $1,529 deposit. However, according to Forbes, some dealerships are offering two-year, 24,000-mile lease deals on the Chevy Volt at $279 a month with $2,419 deposit. And some buyers have found dealers offering lease deals as low as $159 a month with no deposit.
In sharp contrast, Volt competitors like the Nissan Leaf are currently offered at $249 a month for a three-year, 39-month lease with a $2,999 deposit.
How can they do this? Apparently, GM is offering bonus cash to Chevrolet dealerships that exceed their Volt sales quota. Dealers can apply this extra bonus cash to Volt pricing, thereby lowering it. So far, only 15 percent of the 2,600 participating dealerships have met this criteria. GM may be looking to create a “plug-in” vehicle niche for itself with these incentives in a similar manner as Toyota did with the Prius hybrid back in the day. “The whole idea is we’re creating a market,” says GM spokesperson Jim Cain. “There is no plug-in market.”
That may be so. Unfortunately, American car shoppers are still wary of the whole alternative-powertrain segment. GM cut back production of the Volt earlier in the year and plans to do so for a second time later this month. We’ve driven the Volt and while we found it likeable enough as transport, the $40,000 pre-incentive price tag is a bit off-putting to most of us. It doesn’t help the fact that GM offers the more engaging fuel-efficient Chevrolet Cruze Eco for around half the price.