Number of Chevy Volts sold last month: 125

Via Jonathan Last at the Standard. Remember a few months ago when people were snickering because GM had sold only 281 Volts that month? Yeah.

The Nissan Leaf once again outsold General Motors’ Chevy Volt in July after GM slowed production of its electric car last month, giving Nissan a nearly 2,000-car edge in total sales.

Nissan sold 931 all-electric battery-powered Leafs in July, bringing the total number of electric cars the company has sold to 4,806. General Motors only sold 125 Volts after shutting down its Detroit-based plant to retool it, bringing its total vehicles shipped to 2,870. General Motors expects to sell around 16,000 Volts by the end of the year now that the plant has re-opened…

Most electric car buyers are more concerned about how long it takes to charge the car and how far it is able to drive than the actual price of the electric car, according to a report by Accenture. Pure plug-in electric cars are typically limited in how far they will go on a charge. They can also take a long time to recharge.

The Leaf is a pure plug-in whereas the Volt recharges its electric battery while it’s running on gas power, but the Leaf’s also roughly eight grand cheaper than the Volt. Even so, I admit that this rave review by Joe “Republican suicide bombers” Nocera back in June left me intrigued about what it would be like to drive the new Chevy. Why bother saving for a down payment on a house when you could blow $40,000 on a green novelty car? Plus, imagine all the new friends you’ll make as people wander by and say, “Wow, this dude actually bought one.”

GM claims that sales were slow this month because there simply aren’t many Volts left to sell. They had to shut their plant in Detroit for a month for upgrades, so the production line ground to a halt and the supply of new cars slowed to a trickle. Does that explain it? Mark Modica of the National Legal and Policy Center investigates:

A search of site showed nearly 500 Chevy Volts listed for sale. I had originally assumed that GM dealers were advertising vehicles that were not actually available for sale, since GM has stated that there were only a “few” Volts available. I decided to call a few dealers within 75 miles of my location to determine what the true situation was. I stopped my research after finding that five of the first six dealers I called had Volts in inventory available for immediate sale. Two of the five dealers even had two each in stock. I can now safely assume that GM is, once again, not being entirely honest with its facts. The demand for the Chevy Volt is not as strong as GM would have us believe.

Martin confirmed that there are Volts available at dealerships. According to Martin, there are 116 new Chevy Volts available for sale to the public at dealerships, plus demo units that can be sold…

The Chevy Volt will not be a big seller for GM; the car just doesn’t offer enough value to get a large part of the population to purchase one. The few consumers that choose to purchase seem to be satisfied with their decision, that’s great. That doesn’t mean that sales are going to take off just because GM will build them at a faster pace. I have to believe that GM knows this. I just can’t figure out why they continue to play out the hoax that the Volt is going to be a blockbuster for the company.

I.e. even with just a few hundred new Volts on the market, they still sold only slightly better than half that amount this month. The latest gimmick is that GM plans to install solar-powered charging stations at Volt dealerships to polish its new green cred. That’s super, but their big problem right now is the fact that Toyota’s planning to roll out a new plug-in Prius next year that’ll likely be $10,000 cheaper than the Volt. It won’t go as far solely on electric power — just 13 miles compared to the Volt’s 35-mile range — but it costs less, charges much more quickly, and will get you 51 mpg via its hybrid engine once you’re beyond the 13-mile range. If your work commute is a short one, you’re in business. And even if it isn’t, with gas at $4 per gallon, the ten grand you save on the Prius will pay for 127,000 miles of driving on gas power. Japan wins again.