Just Right: How Price-Cuts, Great Lease Deals, Helped the Chevy Spark EV Outsell the Chevy Volt

One is a limited-production compliance all-electric minicar, made by General Motors to satisfy California’s tough zero emissions mandate and only available in two state. The other is GM’s affordable, compact, four-seat range-extended electric car that until recently held the position as America’s number one plug-in.

The Chevy Spark EV outsold the Chevy Volt last month.

The Chevy Spark EV outsold the Chevy Volt last month.

Yet during the month of April, the diminutive Chevrolet Spark electric car outsold the Chevrolet Volt 920 to 905. Given the popularity of the Chevrolet Volt, beating it in monthly sales is something of an achievement, especially given it and its rival the Nissan LEAF have accounted for the majority of plug-in sales since both cars launched in late 2010.

As our friends at AutoblogGreen note, add in the historical monthly sales totals for the Chevrolet Spark — an average of around 100 vehicles per month — and that sales figure is quite frankly “crazy up,” far greater than anything we or anyone else could have predicted.

Look a little deeper and it’s clear that the Chevy Spark’s sudden sales success wasn’t just a random occurrence: it happened because of a perfect storm featuring the all-new second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt, a recent expansion into Oregon for the Chevy Spark, and some too-good-to-miss lease deals.

Thanks to impressive incentives, the plug-in minicar was available for less than its gasoline counterpart.

Thanks to impressive incentives, the plug-in minicar was available for less than its gasoline counterpart.

According to data collected from General Motors by AutoblogGreen, 94 percent of the 920 sales recorded last month for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark came from retail lease agreements throughout California and Oregon. The only two states you could buy a Spark EV during April (Maryland will become the third state you can buy one this quarter) massive incentives on lease deals seemed to have convinced car buyers that the four-seat Spark was the perfect car for them.

In fact, thanks to various deals announced midway through April, it became possible to lease an entry-level 2015 Spark EV 1LT for less than an entry-level, gasoline-powered 2015 Spark 1LT. The deals, aimed to help encourage people to buy the outgoing Spark EV before it ends production next year, come just as Chevrolet is readying its next-generation 2016 Spark for production.

With the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt long-range electric car due next year as a 2017 model year car however, the next-generation Spark won’t be offered as an electric vehicle. Instead, GM aims to continue producing the outgoing 2015 Spark EV  for a few months after the rest of the Spark production has moved to the newer model. To keep buyers interested, it has dug deep to find some extra cash incentives.

It was close, but the Volt lost out.

It was close, but the Volt lost out.

In addition to the global $1,650 price cut offered on the city-friendly plug-in, lowering its MSRP to $25,995 before incentives, an extra $1,000 in California on top of the state’s $2,500 purchase rebate and $7,500 Federal tax credit meant that buyers could save an additional $11,500 off MSRP. Similar deals in Oregon reduced effective price by the same amount, thanks to a $3,500 cash-on-the-hood deal for Oregonians wanting to feel the spark of a Spark EV.

Add on a lease deal of $139 per month on a ‘sign-and-drive’ basis for 39 months with nothing due at signing, and it’s no wonder the Spark EV experienced an upsurge in popularity.

As for the 2015 Chevrolet Volt? It too is an outgoing model, replaced later this year by the second-generation 2016 Chevy Volt. But while GM has offered some appealing cash-on-hood deals to try and shift remaining 2015 Volt inventory alongside new low-priced lease deals, its replacement offers a far improved range in a more practical package, meaning there’s less incentive for buyers to snap up outgoing stock.

We should note too that the Volt and Spark EV are in completely different markets. While the Spark EV was available for less than its gasoline counterpart last month, offering those who would never have dreamed of owning an electric car the chance to plug-in and save on gas, the Volt, even with discounts, was still an expensive proposition.

Is this an example of what happens when practical, everyday electric cars are priced at super-low prices? Would more people plug-in if electric cars were more competitively priced against gasoline ones? And did you take advantage of the Spark EV offers last month?

Let us know in the Comments below.



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