BrandChannel.com | Posted by Dale Buss July 16, 2012
Pulling away at a "go" light, plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt have a big advantage over all-electric cars like the Nissan Leaf — because they have a gasoline engine on board that can provide the required performance punch.
That's sort of what is happening in sales of Volt versus Leaf as well. While the Chevrolet sold nearly 1,700 vehicles in June and, at 8,800, has more than tripled the number it sold last year, Nissan could only report sales of 535 Leafs in the U.S. last month. For the year to date, Leaf sold only about 3,400 units, down 19% from last year.
A Nissan spokeswoman told the Detroit News that the main reason for the decline in Leaf sales is that Nissan has been moving away from a "web-driven, build-to-order system that was designed to handle initial sales to more of a traditional dealer-based model."
As for Volt, "We're still trying to manage the production to demand," Chris Perry, Chevrolet's CMO, told brandchannel. "We still haven't totally filled the inventory needs growing in California and some other markets. We're still not sure how high is high with this product."
To be sure, GM fell far short last year of its initial objective of moving 10,000 Volts in 2011. But it has tapped into strong demand in California by outfitting a version of Volt to comply specifically with stiff emissions regulations in that state, which entitles drivers of those cars to move solo into the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.
And while GM's production of Volt has been idled off-and-on this year, company executives continue to believe that, long-term, Volt is "a game-changer," as Perry put it. Future demand for plug-ins and all-electric vehicles remains murky, ever more so with gasoline prices moderating again.
But GM is confident that its huge investment in Volt, both in terms of a manufacturing commitment and as a subject of continued marketing resources, will pay off. For example, it doesn't plan to share Volt technology with Peugeot under the two companies' new partnership, figuring it's too essential.
So the company keeps backing Volt in new ways. It is airing its second TV ad for Volt in its emerging marketing of Australia, for instance. And now Chevrolet is pursuing the five million users of Recyclebank who earn points for educating themselves on green living and making green lifestyle choices, as Marketing Daily reports. The points can be exchanged for branded merchandise or donated to charities.
"We're going to keep using" Volt, Perry said, "as the brand builder that it is."
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