23,461 Volts

That’s big if we’re talking about electric chairs.

For car sales, however, it’s barely a D battery.

Chevy Volt sales are cranking up. General Motors sold three times as many Chevrolet Volts in 2012 as it did in 2011, which was the car’s first full year on the market.

Woo hoo! Go Volt! (About 38 miles on a charge if you’re lucky.)

GM sold 23,461 Volts in 2012 compared with just 7,671 in 2011. While it’s an impressive jump, the Volt is still one of Chevy’s lowest-selling cars. However, the Volt greatly outdid the Corvette, for instance, of which only 14,000 were sold last year.

“More than half of all Volt sales are in California,” said Alec Guitierrez, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book. The car has also been catching on in other markets, however, including Michigan and in the Chicago area, according to GM.

Besides the carpool lane stickers, the Volt has also been helped by aggressive leasing incentives offered in 2012. Last year, GM was offering the car for $289 a month with a $2,800 down payment. That was far less than a car with the Volt’s nearly $40,000 purchase price would ordinarily lease for, even factoring in a $7,500 plug-in car tax credit.

“The math on the Volt starts to make sense to the masses at those prices,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the auto pricing Web site Truecar.com.

Chevy Volt owners routinely report getting triple-digit gas mileage, according to the Web site Voltstats.net.

While even those fuel savings might not make up the car’s relatively high cost at full sticker price, the low lease rates made the Volt’s price more comparable to ordinary fully-gasoline-powered cars.

Following a full charge, the Volt can drive about 38 miles on plug-in electric power, according to EPA estimates, before a gasoline engine switches on to generate power for further driving.

So, with absurd sales gimmicks and government arm twisting, an electric vehicle can compete with the gas guzzlers.

Or not:

Regardless of the good news, Libby said, it still bears remembering that sales of the Volt, which is now the best-selling plug-in car in America, are still miniscule compared to most other cars. In 2012, Chevrolet dealers sold almost exactly 10 times as many of the Chevrolet Cruze, the gasoline powered car on which the Volt is based.

And the Toyota Camry outsold it by more than 17 times if we’re counting—neither of which come close to touching truck sales:

With sales of 645,316, its F-series pickup was the best-selling vehicle of any type in America last year.

The F-series easily outsold the Chevrolet Silverado, which with sales of 418,312 was the second-best-selling truck. Toss in the GMC Sierra, which is essentially the same vehicle as the Silverado but with fancier trim, and the Ford F-series was still ahead by about 70,000 units.

But that’s okay, Volt owners: the drive of a thousand miles begins with a singe charge (followed by 25 others).

2 Comments »

  1. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    January 4, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    Has anyone ever even seen a Volt?

    - Aggie

  2. Bloodthirsty Liberal said,

    January 5, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    Course we have, Aggie. But don’t look too long or you’ll burn your retinas.

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