SAN FRANCISCO -- Chevrolet's marketing boss has defended General Motors' recent use of incentives to help lift sales of the Chevrolet Volt, saying GM needs more people to experience the car's plug-in hybrid technology.
"The incentives, we think, are appropriate," Chris Perry, Chevrolet's vice president of global marketing, told Automotive News during a press event here Tuesday. "We know that when we get people in the car, people love the vehicle. They turn into advocates for Chevrolet."
GM sold 2,831 Volts in August, a monthly record for the car, which was launched in December 2010. The sales surge came amid offers of discounted leases, with monthly payments as low as $249, as well as a dealer stair-step program that paid dealers as much as $2,500 for each Volt they sold. Stair-step programs pay dealers escalating bonuses for meeting unit-sales targets. GM sold 13,497 Volts during the first eight months of the year.
Last week, the Associated Press reported that GM spent close to $10,000 in incentive money per Volt in August, citing data from research firm TrueCar.com. A TrueCar spokesman said the figure includes dealer cash, discounts on leases and low-interest financing deals.
During August 2011, GM's Volt incentives totaled $2,424 per unit, according to TrueCar. Sales that month were 302 units.
The Volt has been a lightning rod for conservative critics, who say the U.S. government has inappropriately subsidized the money-losing car's development and continues to spend $7,500 per Volt in tax credits to entice buyers. Heavy discounts to lift sales could stoke more criticism because it would increase GM's losses on the car.
Perry said GM will "continue to tweak and dial in" the Volt incentives for the rest of the year.