Anyone looking for a plug-in hybrid that isn’t a Fisker Karma or a Plug-In Prius might have a hard time of it. Chevy Volt dealers are becoming a bit more scarce, as a number of Chevrolet dealers are refusing to carry the car for a number of reasons.
Chevy Volt dealers refusing to carry car despite growing appeal
In 2011, the first year it went on sale, not many people bought the Chevy Volt. The high price might be part of it; after all, the car costs $33,000 or more after a $7,500 federal tax credit for buying an electric or hybrid car. That’s before any state incentives kick in, of course. It’s also before any options and tax and title.
Since then, it’s caught on. Through the end of Nov. 2012, almost 21,000 people have bought a Chevy Volt, nearly triple the sub-8,000 units sold in 2011 and far more than any one electric car, according to AutoGuide. More people are willing to buy plug-in hybrids than purely electric vehicles, as the things can run on gas if need be.
However, it would be tough for most people to find one, as dealerships are refusing to be Chevy Volt dealers.
Don’t be a tool
In order for a dealership to become a Chevy Volt dealer, they have to purchase special tools to service the car. The cost of the tools is $5,100. The profit margin per car sold is about $1,000 per car, meaning they have to sell 5 of them before they make any money.
Currently, according to AutoBlog, 2,614 dealers were certified to sell them, out of 3,079 GM dealers. On top of that, 300 dealers sell 70 percent of the volume, meaning 2,314 dealers vie for 30 percent of sales of a car that moves fewer than 30,000 units per year.
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One of the tools is for the battery pack, which drains the electrical charge so the battery pack can be shipped to General Motors for service. That tool was new for 2012, according to Car and Driver. The new equipment raised the price of special tools for the Volt from $2,800 to $5,100. GM gives dealers the option to opt out of selling certain models every year and a number are opting out of selling the Volt.
Only a few opting out
Anyone who was about to head out and apply for, say, a Chase auto loan for a Volt, but now is bummed to hear about Chevy Volt dealers being a little fewer and farther between, take heart. Car and Driver reports only about one percent of dealers opted out of selling the car.
However, they may end up changing their minds. More plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, are on the way from General Motors, such as the Cadillac ELR. The thing about tools is they only have to be bought once for the most part.