Chevrolet dealerships drop Volt due to high tool costs

Article by Anita Panait, on January 8, 2013

Some Chevrolet dealers have dropped the Chevrolet Volt from their showrooms after determining that their sales failed to justify an additional $5,100 for tools to service the plug-in hybrid. In November 2012, General Motors notified Chevrolet dealers of the added cost for tools, among other requirements, for selling and servicing the Volt.

But for Allyn Barnard, owner of Jim Barnard Chevrolet in Churchville, N.Y., the tool tab is just too costly.  He told Automotive News that profitability would be really hard for dealers to justify the expense of the repair tools. Since the Volt’s launch two years ago, Barnard just sold five units, prompting him to quit the Volt authorized dealer program.

According to Barnard, his sales and service revenue from those five sales were just enough to enable the dealership to break even on the nearly $5,000 he spent almost two years ago on Volt tools, training and charging stations.

Some dealers, on the other hand, believe that GM is increasing the requirements to be a certified Volt dealer as the carmaker wants a smaller network that would drive more Volts to bigger-volume dealers and regions. 

But GM spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said the dealer’s speculations were untrue. She said that it is standard to require dealers to buy tools to service certain nameplates. In 2011, Volt dealers shelled out $1,800 to $2,800 on tools.

Malcho declined to disclose how many Chevrolet dealerships have quit the Volt program since they received the information of the extra cost. She, however, said that those who have quit just account for less than 1 percent of the Volt's sales, adding that around 70 percent of figures are generated by the 300 highest-volume dealerships.

In 2012, 2,614 Chevrolet stores were certified to sell the Volt and as of Jan. 1, 2012, Chevrolet had 3,079 dealerships, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

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