General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sold about 26,000 of its all-electric Chevy Bolt sedan last year, the first full year of the car’s availability. In the first quarter of this year GM sold 4,375 units, an increase of 41.5% over the first quarter of 2017 when the car still had only limited availability.
Because GM no longer reports monthly sales figures we won’t know how 2018 second-quarter sales have been until early next month. Electric vehicle industry analysts at Hybridcars.com estimate that sales through May have totaled 6,545 units with May monthly sales of 1,125 units, a year-over-year monthly decline of 28%.
According to Hybridcars.com, the Model 3 from Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) gets some—if not most—of the blame:
The Chevrolet Bolt is not selling particularly well and is up only 10 percent year-to-date as compared to a year ago when the model was not fully available. Clearly, as sales increase at Tesla, the company’s products will dominate the segment even as they continue to fall short of expectations.
Fortunately for GM, Tesla has not been able to ramp production of the Model 3 to the level that CEO Elon Musk has targeted. Musk has projected that Model 3 production would reach 5,000 per week by the end of June. Given sputtering production on the Model 3, if Tesla hits that rate it will be some kind of miracle.
According to analysts at InsideEVs.com, the Chevy Bolt’s problems are self-inflicted. Inventories “are almost completely dried up” as a result of high demand and GM’s decision to shorten the car’s model year. The company stopped taking orders for the car last month and will only begin taking orders for the 2019 model year Bolt on June 14.
The good news for GM is that its plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt is selling pretty well. Inventories are good and the car continues to attract buyers in the market for a plug-in hybrid with a long electric range.
Tesla’s backlog of orders for the Model 3—once over 400,000—has probably dwindled both from sales and cancellations. If the new Bolt raises the stakes and can be produced and delivered in reasonable numbers, Tesla will again have a legitimate competitor.