Chevrolet is Making Converts to the Brand and its Halo

Written By Thomas Ponco on Thursday, May 24, 2012 | 11:30 AM

The first Sports Cars are considered to be (though the term would not be coined until after World War One) the 3 litre made in 1910 Vauxhall 20 hp (15 kW) and 27/80PS Austro-Daimler (designed by Ferdinand Porsche).

Published May 24, 2012

By Jeff Cobb


Why is this man smiling? According to Chevrolet, it's because Del Grande Dealer Group President Shaun Del Grande is seeing new customers trading in Toyota Prii and Honda Civics for Volts at his dealership.

Chevrolet has just issued a press release saying a fair number of Prius owners are voting with their bank accounts in favor of its Volt.

Marketing data collected on the extended-range electric car shows the Prius is the most traded-in vehicle for those opting for the Volt. Following this are the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, and various iterations of the BMW 3-Series.

Now that the Volt has been granted eligibility for solo access to the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in California, GM’s marketers are charging in hard finding case examples of happy new Volt converts.

“I owned a Prius for six years and loved it. I was one of the first to sign-up for the plug-in (version),” said Steve Glenn of Santa Monica, Calif. “While I was waiting for it to ship, I learned that the Volt would qualify for the HOV stickers, so I did a test drive. I fell in love then. It’s faster, better appointed and gets far better gas mileage than the Prius (or the plug-in). I've driven it over 1,000 miles and I've only used five gallons of gas.”

And probably even easier to find was a dealer willing to also tout its advantages.

“Volt is a game changer for us in northern California,” said Shaun Del Grande, president, Del Grande Dealer Group in San Jose. “On a daily basis new customers are coming into our dealership to check out the Volt because of its breakthrough technology and superior fuel economy. Our dealership is seeing new customers who are trading in Prius and Civic models, and we’re just getting started with electric vehicles.”

On the other hand, GM has caught heat from some Volt fans for being in other ways tepid in its marketing, not as truly aggressive as, say, Nissan, in pushing its new technology to more platforms.

Playing according to its own muse, GM is seemingly content to make the Volt a halo car and only reluctantly announced the more upscale Voltec-based Cadillac ELR would be produced in 2014 when the story was leaked, while it’s still solidifying its post-bankruptcy balance sheet and the Volt’s also recently wounded reputation.

On this last score, the Volt was top ranked in owner satisfaction by Consumer Reports and a recent survey showed Volt owners “expressed their passion for the vehicle” and 93 percent said they’d buy another one again.

This, Chevrolet says, as it is also naming Prius owners as the number one category of those trading in for the Volt.

And it says it while the long-established Toyota – and variants – continue to dominate in sales volume month after month, and the Volt is still only selling in limited numbers.

In counterpoint once more, the Volt also comes packed with a prestige value for GM that may be inestimable. Recently former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz was quoted as saying the new halo single-handedly rescued GM’s reputation from one of mediocre technology.

Perhaps that dovetails also with GM’s data saying how GM is experiencing a resurgence of new customers due to the Volt.

“Nearly seven in 10 Volt buyers are new to Chevrolet,” said Volt marketing manager Cristi Landy. “With new customers coming to the brand because of the Volt, our dealers have a great opportunity to establish lasting relationships and introduce them to our entire Chevrolet product line up.”

But since GM says the Volt is such a great car, others have said they’d like to see GM show it really means it and bring in some lower price point Voltec variants as well, maybe also a crossover vehicle while they’re at it.

No doubt GM has heard them. But for now it's shoring up its position, continuing to deliver Volts and sibling Amperas to new markets, and boasting in its one Ace while otherwise holding its hand full of other cards close to its chest.

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