GO
Loading...

Volt's lackluster sales raise questions about demand

Getty Images

Sales of the Chevrolet Volt plunged 31.7 percent last month, once again raising questions about demand for the high-profile, extended-range electric vehicle.

It's the kind of drop in sales that will raise eyebrows, with many in the automotive press focused on comparing the Volt to other electric vehicles—and to the lofty sales expectations General Motors once set for the car.

But Kurt McNeil, head of U.S. sales at GM, dismissed suggestions the Volt is struggling.

"The Volt is still in real good shape," he said. "If you look, we sold a little over 2,000 units; 99 percent of that was all retail business."

(Read more: Strong US sales power GM's Q3 earnings beat)

To be fair, Volt sales last month were being compared with October 2012, which was the second-best month in the car's sales history.

During GM's October 2013 sales call, Don Johnson, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet sales, said the Volt is hitting internal targets. GM also said the Volt is selling well in California, which is by far the biggest market in the U.S. for electric vehicles.

GM executives said they've asked for greater production of the vehicle. So why is the national inventory of the car sitting at 47 days' supply, which is still well below the industry norm of 60 to 65 days' supply?

"Inventory is a fine line to walk. We certainly don't want too many," McNeil said. "We feel pretty good about where we are and we can ebb and flow production."

(Read more: Toyota slammed by Consumer Reports)

While GM may be bullish on the Volt, a new report on sales of cars in America's wealthiest ZIP codes showed the rich in those markets are picking the all-electric Tesla Model S, not the Chevy Volt.

In the first half of this year, when sales in the 25 wealthiest ZIP codes are combined, Tesla ranks No. 1. By comparison, the Toyota Prius was No. 6 in sales; the Chevy Volt was not among the top 25 best-selling vehicles.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

Volt vs. LEAF

Maker
Oct
YTD
Chevy Volt ▼31.7% 18,782 (down 2.7%)
Nissan LEAF ▲26.8% 18,078 (up 116.2%)
Source: Company sales reports.
Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
GM
---
TSLA
---
7203.T
---

Featured

Autos