Chevy Volt Back on Top for Plug-In Sales; Bolt Picks Up Speed

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After ceding its rank as the top-selling plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) in May to Toyota Motor Corp.’s (NYSE: TM) Prius Prime, the Chevrolet Volt from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) recaptured the top sales spot in June with 1,745 units sold compared to 1,619 Prius Prime sales. For the first six months of the year, the Volt has sold 10,932 units, compared to 9,692 Prius Primes.

Among all-electric models, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) held on to the top spot with 2,200 sales of its Model S sedan and 2,100 sales of the Model X. The Chevy Bolt posted another solid month with sales of 1,642 units. The Model S has sold a total of 11,000 units in the first six months of 2017, the Model X has racked up sales of 9,100 and the Bolt has sold 7,592 units.

The data were reported last week at HybridCars.com, which noted that sales of all types of hybrids and electric vehicles were lower in June than in May, but year-over-year sales for the month and year-to-date sales are up.

Chevy Bolt sales reached their highest level ever in June as GM continues to roll out the car across the country. HybridCars.com noted:

Bolt sales reached over 1600 in June which is its best month, but volumes remain on track for only about a 20,000 annual rate with many of these vehicles being used by fleets which are focusing on developing autonomous vehicles. Elon Musk has stated that a small number of [Tesla] Model 3s (30) will be delivered in July.

The all-electric Chevy Bolt sold just 103 fewer copies in June than the Chevy Volt, and GM certainly hopes that nationwide availability (expected this fall) will boost Bolt sales. Because GM started selling the Bolt in states where EVs are popular, the first eight states where the car was sold account for about 75% of all U.S. EV sales (can you say “California”?).

The first production Tesla Model 3 is off the line and the company is predicting annual production of 500,000 units by the end of next year. With about that many preorders for the Model 3, sales numbers will be impressive and could shove the Chevy Bolt into a distant second place in sales.

As for the Chevy Volt, it is up against the best brand in electrified cars — Prius — and that could make holding on to Volt’s sales lead a very dicey proposition.

But GM has to persevere if the company wants to remain relevant in the automobile market for the next 10 to 25 years. If one current projection comes true, more than half of all cars sold worldwide in 2040 will be electrified. The ramp is slow through 2025, but then steepens as costs for electric vehicles fall and more carmakers follow Volvo’s lead and electrify all their cars to one extent or another.