Chevy Volt Sales Tripled In 2012, Helping GM’s Bottom Line

center-americanprogressEditor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Center for American Progress/Climate Progress. Author credit goes to Stephen Lacey.

General Motors had a record-breaking year for fuel-efficient autos in 2012.

The company became the first American auto manufacturer to sell more than one million vehicles with a 30-mpg fuel rating. And due to a surge in demand from Califorina, GM tripled sales of its electric model, the Chevy Volt.

Volt Pecan Street

image via GM

Motor Trend reported on the year end sales figures:

Chevrolet posted the biggest sales gains of any GM brand last year, with total volume up 4.3 percent year-over-year. Several models made enormous leaps in sales volume: the Sonic compact, for instance, finished December up just 4.3 percent, but a strong year helped push the car to a 415-percent overall gain compared to its first year on sale. The Chevrolet Volt, too, saw sales leap 206 percent from just 7671 units in its difficult first year on the market to a respectable 23,461 cars in 2012. Despite a significant drop to just 1293 sales last month, the Colorado small pickup posted an 18.7 percent annual sales gain. And the Equinox crossover enjoyed a 7.5-percent boost to 19,551 December sales and ended the year up 13.1 percent.

The surge in demand for the Volt capped a tumultuous 2012 for electric vehicles. In 2011, manufacturers fell well short of their sales targets. And as criticisms mounted last year, it seemed like automakers had to spend more time defending electric vehicles than actually making them.

As one of the most prominent automakers getting into the electric vehicle market, GM took a lot of heat from conservative politicians, bloggers, and Fox News pundits about its Chevy Volt. The car was called “crappy” and labeled an “exploding Obamamobile” by commentators looking for an opportunity to attack President Obama’s investments in clean technologies.

Tired of the barrage of attacks, former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz — a Republican who once called climate change “a crock of shit” — lashed out at his fellow conservatives for spreading fear and cracking jokes about the car: “This is an unfortunate, knee-jerk reaction…Folks, it’s pure fiction. Please get it out of your heads,” Lutz said.

Although GM is still below its sales targets for the Volt, the company is promoting its latest sales figures as proof that more Americans want fuel efficient and electric cars.

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. last year was the highest ever recorded, boosting consumer interest in fuel-sipping automobiles. With more fuel-efficient models available from automakers, sales increased substantially — up 13 percent over 2011 sales.

“The U.S. light vehicle sales market continues to be a bright spot in the tremulous global environment,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of LMC Automotive, an industry analysis firm, to the Associated Press.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration finalized new standards that will increase the average fuel efficiency of America’s cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The Natural Resources Defense Council says those fuel standards could save consumers $68 billion in fuel costs each year after 2030, when the mileage targets have been met.

The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action. Building on the achievements of progressive pioneers such as Teddy Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, our work addresses 21st-century challenges such as energy, national security, economic growth and opportunity, immigration, education, and health care. We develop new policy ideas, critique the policy that stems from conservative values, challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter, and shape the national debate.

  • Thomas Crosslin

    Where the heck are all of these Volt’s??
    I have yet to see one on the road. I see lot’s of Prius, Leaf, and a scattering of others around Portland (OR) but I have yet to see even 1 volt. Does GM release regional sales numbers??

  • Chris Jordan

    For Sale? NEAT! I am not at all interested in 4 door inaccessible vehicles; but how much is that nifty red 3-wheel scooter???