• Aug 3rd 2010 at 4:57PM
  • 53
2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

Researchers from Edmunds decided to drop their local Chevrolet dealer a line to inquire about staking a claim for one of the first available Volts, and the response was shocking at best and galling at worst. Here's the email, sans names:
Hello *****

Thank you for your online request, as you know the Volt is going to be a very limited production vehicle for the first 2-3 years. Demand is going to far exceed supply for this vehicle, initially our asking price for the Volt is going to be MSRP plus $20,000, we are expecting only receive 9 Volts all of next year.

I will keep you in my customer base for when the Volt comes out and I will contact you with any information as I receive it. We are taking orders right now for the Volt, if you would like more information, please let me know and I will be more than happy to help you. Thank you.

***** *****, Internet Specialist
******* Chevrolet
********, CA
You read that right. A $20k markup over MSRP for a 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

As Edmunds' AutoObserver points out, this email exchange took place before General Motors announced its plans to increase Volt production by 50% for 2011, churning out approximately 45,000 units in its first year. But even with that knowledge, would the unnamed dealer still avoid bilking early adopters? We doubt it.

While it's not clear if any other Chevy dealers plan to follow suit, history would suggest that big markups are likely – the Corvette ZR1 initiated this sort of fervor when it was announced, too. On the flip side of the coin, AO sites a report from GM-Volt.com this past June, in which a GM spokesperson is quoted as saying: "We also aren't expecting our dealers to overcharge anyone for this vehicle, either, and will monitor the situation closely when we launch," adding, "we'll be paying close attention when the vehicle launches and do our best to strongly discourage this kind of behavior, as we always do with any GM-branded vehicle."

GM is allowing Volt buyers to lease the plug-in hybrid for $350 a month (with a $2,500 down payment) when sales begin later this year, so it strikes us as odd that someone would choose to purchase a Volt outright if the dealer would tack on such an astronomical amount to the MSRP. Then again, there's the possibility that dealers might only allow purchases, negating the option to lease.

With so much riding on the Volt's success – from GM's long-term environmental program to the political pressures over the federal bailout – the General better get its dealers in line post-haste. If not, the fallout has the potential to stymie the Volt's success before the first owner takes delivery.


  • Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman
  • Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman
  • The Chevrolet Volt "Freedom Drive" across the country concludes at Pier 92 during the annual Macy's Independence Day fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York, Sunday, July 4, 2010. The "Freedom Drive" began four days and 1.776 miles ago in Austin, Texas where Chevrolet announced New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas would join Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. as launch sites for the Volt later this year. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt "Freedom Drive" across the country concludes at Pier 92 during the annual Macy's Independence Day fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York, Sunday, July 4, 2010. The "Freedom Drive" began four days and 1.776 miles ago in Austin, Texas where Chevrolet announced New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas would join Michigan, California and Washington, D.C. as launch sites for the Volt later this year. (Photo by Emile Wamsteker for Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet announces Thursday, July 1, 2010 it is adding Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to the launch markets for the Volt electric vehicle. The retail launch in Texas and New York will begin with Austin and New York City in late 2010. The balance of Texas and New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in early 2011. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) in front of the Texas State Capital in Austiin, Texas Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (Photo by Steven Noreyko for Chevrolet)
  • Chevrolet announces Thursday, July 1, 2010 it is adding Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to the launch markets for the Volt electric vehicle. The retail launch in Texas and New York will begin with Austin and New York City in late 2010. The balance of Texas and New York, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in early 2011. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) in front of the Texas State Capital in Austiin, Texas Wednesday, June 30, 2010. (Photo by Steven Noreyko for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt passes a trolley while navigating the steep climbs of the San Francisco Bay area while on an engineering development drive Saturday, April 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt drives near the Golden Gate Bridge while on an engineering development drive in San Francisco, California Saturday, April 25, 2010. The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt navigates the steep climbs of the San Francisco Bay area while on an engineering development drive Saturday, April 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California The Volt will be available in California during the last quarter of 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range on display at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range drives through campus at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The new Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range drives through campus at Columbia University on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Todd Plitt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • The Chevrolet Volt �Freedom Drive� across the country continues in Fairfax, Virginia Saturday, July 3, 2010 as the Volt participates in the annual Independence Day Parade. The Volt, an electric vehicle with extended range. will finish its four-day, 1,776 mile route in New York City on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for Chevrolet)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range travels around Pier 92 during a media test drive in New York, NY on Monday, March 29, 2010. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) (3/29/2010)
  • A pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range travels around Pier 92 during a media test drive in New York, NY on Monday, March 29, 2010. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) (3/29/2010)
  • The first pre-production Chevrolet Volt rolls off the line at the Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing plant Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. The pre-production versions of the Volt will not be sold at dealerships, but will be used to assure all steps in the production system will meet the quality targets set by the Volt engineering team. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet) (04/01/2010)
  • A Chevrolet Volt battery at the General Motors Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, June 30, 2010. The Chevrolet Volt will offer customers an unprecedented standard 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on its lithium-ion battery. GM engineers have completed more than 1 million miles and 4 million hours of validation battery testing since 2007. Each Volt battery pack has nine modules and 288 cells. GM designed and engineered 99 percent of the 155 components in each battery. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)

[Source: AutoObserver]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Someone posted about a $10K mark-up in an earlier thread.

      Meh, it is a free market. If someone is dumb enough to pay it, let them.

      But just laugh at such mark-ups. They'll end in no time . . . it is mass manufactured product. They are nothing to some super-wealthy person that wants to be the first person to own a Volt. I just wish that money went to GM who developed the Volt instead of some slimy dealer that is merely scalping.


      And you know . . . if lots of people actually do pay a $10K to $20K mark-up . . . well then I'll be smiling from ear-to-ear knowing that EVs are here to stay! :-D I can wait.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So you has no problem with dealers price gouging YOU for their own personal enrichment. Most buyers aren't such puritanical capitalists. This is the kinda thing that could end up making GM look very, very bad in the eyes of a lot of car buyers, and could taint the public image of their Volt brand.

        Who knew GM would so quick to take a wrecking ball to their PR puppy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Polo, I understand your frustration. But honestly, I was a proponent from the start of GM auctioning the first 100 (or 1000) Volts on eBay (or some other forum). Maybe before even announcing the MSRP. I really, honestly don't have a problem with a dealer trying to gouge me in a sale. Either they're asking for a price I'm willing to pay for a limited availability item, and I'll pay it, or it's not a price I'm willing to pay, and I won't.

        If you know what markups all the dealers near you charge for cars, and if that determines where you look for your next car; great. Me, I figure out what kind of car I want, and I call around to nearby dealers to figure out who has the best price. Sure, that only works for vehicles that aren't severely supply constrained, but it's always worked for me. I don't decide on a make/model (let alone a dealership) based on what they got someone else to pay for something else.

        Also, if they're banking $20k _extra_ per Volt, then they can afford to throw away dozens of sales on other, lower-margin cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No . . . I have no problem with it. Because they are not gouging me. I won't pay it. I can wait until the demand subsists. Or I can buy a Leaf. Or I can do a conversion. Or I can use public transportation. Etc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's a free market but this is plain harmful to GM's image and brands. If someone considering a Volt goes to their local Chevy dealership and gets this sort of ridiculous quote they're basically going to storm out of the dealership thinking something along the lines of "those no good @**$& who took my tax money for their bailout-how dare they try to rip me off!!!" Not great for GM's image especially when the someone in this case actually had a positive image of the Volt and actually wanted to buy one.
        Moreover, instead of going on a waiting list for the Volt at the regular price these people will flip off the salesguy then go to a Nissan or Toyota dealership to buy a Leaf or a Prius. Then probably go on the internet post about how a Chevy dealership tried to rip them off.
        All things which are pretty terrible for Chevy and GM. Greedy dealers only looking at the short term is the problem here-to survive long term you can't keep pushing people who want to be your customers away with intelligence insulting stuff like this-who in their right mind would think paying $61,000 for a Volt makes sense?!?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree.
        If any, most, or all Volts sell for $60k, it'll just be that much more of a kick in the balls for all the companies NOT putting out a PHEV (or EV) in the next year.

        If there's more demand than supply, it would be stupid for dealers not to add a "market adjustment" to the price. There are no price controls on diamonds.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeeep...just what I thought. Overprice the car out of most people's reach - call EV's a marketing disaster and kill the Volt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It does seem like GM is pulling out all the stops to make EVs appear to be "out of reach" to mainstream buyers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I posted on the earlier story (last wednesday) about a dealer asking me for $10k over MSRP. After making that post, I proceeded to call the 10 dealers receiving Volt allocations in my area as listed on Chevy's web site (getmyvolt.com -> dealer search, 95117 zip code)

      Of those, two were asking 10k over MSRP (one of these said they had 39 cars allocated for next year, the most in my area, perhaps the most in california)
      One was asking $5k over MSRP
      The other 7 did not yet know what they were going to do, took my name down and said they would get back to me.

      Dublin Chevrolet told me they did not usually ask for over MSRP even on popular vehicles. They got back to me later last wednesday, and told me they would sell it to me for MSRP with a small deposit, which I have since done. (I was able to pick the options I wanted by the way). They had about an 8 car allocation

      Fremont Chevrolet got back to me today, and they wanted $1000 deposit and would sell it to me at MSRP. These folks also had about 8 cars allocated, 6 already presold, 47 more names on the list to call.

      Another dealer called me back when I was driving, and I did not speak long enough to hear what their price was.

      I have not heard back from the remaining 4 dealers.

      I just wanted to point out that some of the dealers do seem to be doing the right thing and only asking MSRP. I mention their names because I like the way they do business. I did not write down the names of the other dealers, but I am sure anyone that wanted to could call those dealers themselves to get a price.

      I wish the laws did not make it illegal for a car manufacturer to open their own stores, as I think everyone would be a lot happier with the 'Apple Store' model rather than the way cars are currently being sold. (As I understand it, current laws are why Tesla is having such trouble opening their stores as they are currently illegal in many states).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why don't Chevy just set up a factory outlet and sell the cars to the public directly at 40k? Tell the dealers to go to hell. People could go to the factory outlet and by the cars for 20k cheaper or from the money grabbing dealers in the own town, their choice.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I have written about this some months ago on my blog:

        http://gimmegimmemyev.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/tesla-stores-the-real-story/

        ----

        Basically, the law forbids GM from selling directly in North America. Not sure about the rest of the world. Once you have one dealer in a territory, you can no longer sell directly. Plus, dealership rights can be inherited to perpetuity, so there's no way to scale back. Pretty scary, if your business is loosing money: you basically have no control.

        Tesla is avoiding all that using the Apple store model. No false repairs, no dealer margins and you can open and close stores as the market changes over time.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Just another way your local dealer is insuring the failure of GM. Idiots!
      emailbjw
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've walked out of many dealerships that try to charge limited availability fees. Paint protection and pin stripes also get an automatic black flag in my book. I would not buy a car from any dealership that tries this. I won't buy a new car in general because I refuse to deal with stuff.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's already too expensive. You will see sales tank once the rich greenies have theirs, and the price will drop to MSRP quickly. Remember this is a GM, not a Tesla.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "plans to increase Volt production by 50% for 2011,"

      That's 2012 calendar year production, not 2011 production (2nd full year, not first year)- read your link. GM is still planning to produce 10,000 vehicles total by the end of 2011- that is produce (2011 & 2012 models), not deliver. Of the 2012 production number, you need to split that up with global markets- there is only one plant that makes the Voltec powetrain. Of the vehicles allocated for the US, all participating dealers are required to have a current model year demonstration vehicle on the lot and some are going to fleets. US supply will be tight for quite some time.

      By going the dealer allocation model rather than the order direct and select a dealer for pickup model (as used by Nissan), GM was asking for this to happen.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If this sort of attitude becomes prevalent among dealers allocated Volts, then it is certain that "dealer greed" will seal the fate of the Volt.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Polo if you are right then the dealers will lose business and close up. No one is forcing you to pay mark up. just walk away.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Throwback, show me where did I say this would cause the dealerships to close. This kinda thing will definitely hurt the Volt brand, and they probably won't get the surge in foot traffic you might expect from a car thats been hyped 4 years running, but nobody's suggested it will get them shut down. Its my taxpayer money that bailed GM out and is paying the $7K rebate, so yea I can talk sh1t about this if I want.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Right about what? That their exists rich people who will buy things average buyers can't?

        And what about all the foot traffic they'll lose from antagonized buyers? What kind of impression will this make on people looking to buy a car, who see that particular dealer posting $20K markups to gouge a few suckers? Think they'll want to negotiate a car sale with that dealer....let alone be happy to have their car serviced with that kinda dealer? Not the best business strategy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If they don't all sell, then the markup will fall. If they do all sell then the dealers will have been proven right.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's the problem?

      Car dealers and car buyers normally negotiate. That exemplifies the most basic principle of capitalism: if demand exceeds supply, then price goes up until demand and supply balance. Consumers normally love it when supply exceeds demand because then prices come down, but it's hypocritical to love that if you don't also love the converse. If you hate both, then you're a communist. Would you rather be a commie or a hypocrite?

      What else happens when demand exceeds supply? Because prices go up, there's more incentive to produce. Manufacturers realise that they have misunderestimated the market demand, and they try to correct their error. Manufacturers who aren't in a position to take advantage of the new market feel stupid. And then apply for government bailouts. Oopsie.

      I couldn't have imagined anything that would do more for the credibility of electric cars than the discovery that producing them is far more profitable than anyone guessed.

      Kudos to the dealers who had the foresight to order a few.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thats your response? Asking for clarification on definitions and questioning the use of nouns and adjectives in your own post? I already know you're confused, but lets get back to the point.

        Explain this mess you typed:

        "My self-interest is better served by honest and fair application of capitalism than by money-grubbing self-serving hypocrites"

        Explain how consumers who believe business should show ethics and say not gouge buyers to the tune of $20K are "money grubbing self serving hypocrites"...and how its the business that is undeniably, blatantly gouging buyers thats demonstrating the "honest and fair application of capitalism". To any normal person it would be exact opposite. You can't even attempt to explain it without going off on some unrelated tangent because it is a complete contradiction.

        I suggest you wiki "cognitive dissonance"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Polo: define capitalism. Use Wikipedia if it would help.

        As for the dealers being "money-grubbing self-serving hypocrites"--how exactly are they hypocrites? Once again, capitalism is based on the assumption that the adjectives are true. My problem is with the noun.

        Let's try this again. Do you believe that prices should NOT respond to supply and demand? Or do you believe that they should only ever do so when you gain from it? If you can't answer this simple question, I'm giving up on you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Polo: Huh? My self-interest is better served by honest and fair application of capitalism than by money-grubbing self-serving hypocrites. Also by people getting stinking filthy rich by selling environmentally non-destructive (or less-destructive) products. I'm intrigued that you seem to equate ethics with greed. I ask again: would you rather be a hypocrite or a communist?

        Evnow: Ah, yes, good point! I'm with you 100%.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Ben "That exemplifies the most basic principle of capitalism"

        I'd be perfectly happy with this - IF there were no subsidies.

        But, since there are subsidies - I'd say for every $1 over MSRP, the subsidy be cut by $1. Afterall people are willing to pay a higher price, so they don't need an incentive to buy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        --My self-interest is better served by honest and fair application of capitalism than by money-grubbing self-serving hypocrites

        Explain how "money grubbing self serving hypocrites" does NOT perfectly describe a car dealer who charges a $20K markup??

        So in your mind, someone who believes businesses should have ethics and not gouge consumers = self serving hypocrite..and the business that blatantly gouges consumers is practicing "honest and fair application of capitalism". Your entire perspective is completely contradictory...to the point of being delusional.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Gotta love these guys essentially arguing against their own self interest, as if the concept of ethics doesn't even exist.

        Do you rangle with your boss to give you a paycut instead of a raise, like a good little capitalist?
      • 5 Years Ago
      That is a staggering mark up. I thought the $3000 markup sticker for a VW Golf TDI was a reason to walk out of the dealership. I wonder why the manufacturers do not realize that mark ups lower the demand for their product which sits unsold on a dealer lot.

      Another reason to walk out besides the extra money for nothing is that when you see one of those dealer stickers you have to realize you are facing a very greedy and inept business. Wait till they get you in the service department. They can't sell any cars, so they better get it in service, until you find another place.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Take a step back, breathe, calm down.

      Desire for shiny new gadgets is a known cause of irrationality. Give it a little time and all the people with more money than rationality will soon have their shiny new look-at-me-aint-I-cool Volts and the dealers will have to start selling them nearer to MSRP.

      And if it turns out there's a lot of pent up demand for a >50K plug-in hybrid automakers will have to start looking at the market for plug in hybrids truly seriously instead of as a niche. At this point only time will tell.
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