Which Is the Bigger Seller: Chevrolet Volt, or Tesla Model S?

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The Chevrolet Volt
If you’re looking for a plug-in electric car, who are you going to call: GM GM +1.27%, or Tesla?

One may have all the momentum in terms of branding and public perceptions. But another is leading in U.S. sales, according to numbers from Autodata.

As the WSJ’s Jeff Bennett reports:

Setting the range issue aside, GM is in a box of sorts, especially when it comes to consumer buzz around Tesla Motors Inc.’sTSLA -1.69% Tesla Model S compared with the Volt.

Sales of the Volt have fallen slightly to 10,635 year-to-date through the end of July from 11,643 vehicles for the same time period a year earlier. However, the Volt still outsells the Tesla Model S electric vehicle. GM in July sold about 2,020 Volts, while Tesla sold 1,500.

A year ago, GM cut the starting price of the Volt by 13% to $35,000 from $40,000. Factor in federal incentives, and the price tag falls to $27,500.

Obviously this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The Volt is a mass-market car with features the Model S lacks: a gasoline engine as backup if the battery runs out, a price tag more in line with what the majority of Americans can spend on a car, and availability in GM dealerships throughout the country. The Model S is priced in the same neighborhood as European luxury sedans, and sells better than some of them in it’s home market of California.

And more importantly, the GM electric car that is in a closer price bracket to Tesla territory is selling terribly in comparison:

Meanwhile, the Cadillac version of the Volt, known as the ELR, has failed to connect with customers. GM has only sold 578 ELRs through the end of July.

GM will release the next generation of the Volt at the Detroit Auto Show next January; Tesla is planning to launch its Model X–another premium vehicle, this time an SUV–in the second quarter of 2015. It will be a few years before the two companies compete in selling affordable, mass-market electric cars.

Tesla won’t be offering anything priced like the Chevrolet Volt until 2017, when it plans to release what it has dubbed the Model III. The company aims to put the Model III in the $35,000 range, thanks in large part to the cheaper batteries it plans to produce in its giant new battery factory.

See also:
General Motors to Debut Next-Generation Chevrolet Volt In January


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