Why Promote What You Don’t Want To Sell?

sparkevIn a return to the “why are they promoting what they can’t (or won’t) deliver” department, let’s look at the Chevy Spark EV. This vehicle is apparently a “dog.” Sales were dismal and showed no signs of improving. But then paying $25,000 for a micro-sized car that can only go 80 miles on a charge might be a disconnect for many consumers. Thus the tepid market acceptance?

In an effort to get more vehicles on the road, GM apparently decided to target Oregon and California, two ‘green focused’ states, with an unbelievable deal. They would lease you the car for about $140/month on a super low mileage program for 39 months. Wow, I thought, perfect for my son who drives 30 miles per day round trip for work.

Got him hyped up on the idea. Checked the Chevy website and requested quotes from three local dealers. No response after a week. At the intense urging of my son, we went to the local dealer. (Buying a car is a pain, and why it has to be that way is beyond me. But then maybe that’s why businesses exists solely to allow people to buy cars without going to a dealer. Costco, for example, does a big business in this field.)

Anyway, we went to the dealer and stood around for 5 minutes waiting to have someone talk to us. (I’m sure I could have approached someone, but I was also observing.) We told the sales person that we were interested in a Spark EV. His eyes lit up until we told him we wanted the lease deal. He said, “sorry, we don’t have any 2015 Spark EVs, and the back order list is so long we aren’t even taking any more deposits.” He said he would take our name and call if anything changed. As we left my son noticed what appeared to be 2015 Spark EVs on the lot.

We called a dealer further away in a smaller town to see what he could do. He was excited to sell us a Spark EV until we told him we wanted the lease deal. Suddenly the last 2015 Spark EV had been sold the day before, and he was unsure if he would get another one.

So I called the Chevy corporate customer service line. Wonderful people who said they would help. They checked inventory and told me both dealers had Spark EVs in stock. I told her they claimed not to and that they could not get me one in time for the lease deal (which expired the end of that month). The customer service person, back-pedaled nicely and told me they could not force their dealers to honor the national deal. I asked if the deal was not profitable for dealers. She repeated the line about not forcing dealers to honor the deal.

So Chevy, on their website, is pushing a deal their dealers (at least in California) want nothing to do with. To be fair we could only check with about six dealers since we could not go further away than about 70 miles or how would we get the car driven home?

I asked myself why this might be (that the dealers wanting nothing to do with this deal). Two answers came to mind:

  1. There is no profit in the deal. Unlikely, as even GM is probably not that stupid … anymore.
  2. When the car comes off lease, the dealer “owns” it again. And with that many cars coming off lease at the same time, there is likely to be a glut of undesirable Spark EVs for sale. Thus the dealer will take a bath on the resale.

This whole thing is just annoying. Not dissimilar to my Sirius radio story. However, this one is the gift that keeps on giving. Since Chevy is using the same “predictive” algorithms that many others use to target me with online ads, I keep seeing ads on my social media and other pages for the dealer that would not sell us a car, and for the Spark EV. Continually reminding me why buying a new car is a pain.

Do we think they will ever get a clue?

Mitch

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