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:
You read that right. A $20k markup over MSRP for a 2011 Chevrolet Volt.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
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.