Monday, September 27, 2010

Purchasing Frustrations

I've never ordered a new car through a dealership before and I'm finding the whole process frustrating.

Way way back when the Chevy Volt was first anounced a little web site setup a Want List, for people who were interested in the Volt to sign up, the idea being that the list would be given to GM when they started taking orders, I was number 167 on that list, there are over 50000 names now, but GM never used this list for taking orders.

About a 6 months ago, GM announced that the Volt would nonly be sold in 3 initial markets when it first came out, California, Michigan and the DC area. I called up a few dealerships in DC and expressed an interest in the Volt, they didnt have any details but put me on their list. Then around July 1st GM announced that the NYC area would also be among the initial markets for the Volt with the rest of New Jersey recieving Volts in the Spring.  So I sent emails to a number of dealerships in the NYC area, especially those in New Jersey but very close to the City, I figured they'd be the first to recieve Volts and I wouldnt have to deal with paying out of state sales tax. Chevrolet of Jersey City contacted me back right away saying they were taking orders with $500 down, that their price would be competitive ( the Volt pricing hadnt been anounced yet) and sent me a nice email emphasising that their purchase process was No Pressure, with no Surprises and no bait and switch etc... It all sounded good so on July 12th I put $500 down on the Chevy Volt.

A few weeks later GM announced the pricing and that they were taking orders, my Dealer at Chevrolet of Jersey City called to ask about what color choice and options I wanted, Red with black on black interior, leather heated seats, backup camera, and brushed aluminum wheels, the Volt doesnt really have that many options, tons of stuff are included standard. So The Dealership placed the order with GM saying I was #1 to recieve  the Volt from them, and they should be getting the car in November. I had to call them a few times to but got the order number. They wouldnt give me a price, just that it would be competitive.

Since placing the order, there has been a lot of talk about some dealerships charging upto $20K over MSRP for the Volt, other dealerships have stated they will only charge MSRP, and fire dealers that try to charge more. so there is a fairly wide discrepancy in what dealerships are charging.

I've repeatedly called Chevrolet of Jersey City to get a firm answer on what price they will be charging me, with no luck. It seems like the Sales person I'm dealing with either doesnt know what the Dealership will be charging or doesnt have the athority to tell me, which has me VERY consirned. He try's to assure me that if I'm not happy I dont have to take the car, and they will refund my deposit, but then I'll have to start all over again with the order process, and many more people will be ahead of me at other dealerships.

I've called a number of dealerships, they were all charging MSRP to $1000  over, but none would expect delivery until March, if I placed an order now.

So my anxiaty level grows, should I keep my order with Chevelet of Jersey City, where I'm likely to get the Volt before the end of the year, but with an unknown mark up, or should I order with anouther dealership at MSRP, but have to wait even longer? I keep imagining my car will arrive, and they will ask for something outragous, just so they can turn arround and sell it to the highest bidder. I contacted a GM representative who said they would contact the dealership for me to get a fixed price, but havent heard anything back.

The next stage of the ordering process is when the Dealership hears from GM that they have X cars coming by Y, and the Dealership finalizes the actual order with GM. If I'm actually going to recieve one of the first Volts, this should happen within the next week or so. At which point I hope to get a firm answer on what they will be charging me, if not or if they dont place my order, I'll probably need to put a new order in with anouther dealer.

I really hate having to deal with Car Dealers, GM should allow people to order directly through them, and then pay the dealerships a fixed rate to handle the transfer, it would make the ordering process more fair, and would prevent outragous markups for people who ordered early, but allow dealerships to order a few cars on their own for which they could charge big markups to people who want to bypass GM's ordering process.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Which came first the Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first the chicken or the egg? A riddle that has special significance when talking about Electric Vehicles. For a long time people have argued you cant have electric vehicles until there is a charging infrustructure, and you cant build a charging infrustructure without Electric Vehicles to use it.

I've had my own experiance with this, in trying to get the company I work for to install charging stations at work, I've been told we cant install them if there's no cars to use them, among other excuses.

But in a few months I will be getting a Chevy Volt, and hopefully buying a new house which will be 40 to 50 miles from where I work. While at first I'll only be able to drive to work on electric power, and will have to drive home using gas, I hope I'll be able to convince my company to install charging stations or at least install 120v outlets in the parking lot, but that may take some time.

If I'd kept my MINI E, I'd probably be able to commute with it without charging at work, at least on good days, as long as I was careful with my speed, but not in the winter because the range is reduced too much.

But with the Volt I can continue to drive to work year round, no matter how far away my new home is, while I work at convincing the powers that be of the advantages of installing Electric car charging stations.

Some day I hope all my driving will be on electricity generated by Solar Panels but until I can get an electric car with a 150 mile range in all weather, or my company installs charging stations where I work, its the Volt for me.

So to answer the question which comes first the electric car or the charging station? The answer is the Volt.