Bourgeois Chevrolet in Rawdon, Quebec, population approx. 10,000, about 80 kilometres north of Montreal, has pre-sold 93 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles, even though the hatchback’s new model will not be hitting the market until 2017.
As of yesterday, the dealership had pre-sold 33 of the electric vehicles during the two weeks after the Bolt’s debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a fact breathlessly reported by Inside EVs, but quickly updated by Bourgeois Chevrolet co-owner Samuel Jeanson on the dealership’s Facebook page with the message, “and counting…! 93 pre-sold Bolts as of this morning!”
To date, the Bolt has no officially announced retail price and is not yet officially on sale by General Motors. Customers placing pre-orders are simply indicating strong demand ahead of the car’s release.
Bourgeois Chevrolet has made something of a specialty selling electric vehicles, winning the Leading Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Dealership award in both 2014 and 2015 from the Canadian Electricity Association.
Bourgeois Chevrolet sold 287 electrified vehicles in 2015, including 192 new and 95 used, out of a total 704 vehicles old on the year, making for a 40% plug-in and EV share of total sales.
The dealership’s buyers scour auctions in Canada and the U.S. for used electric vehicles and takes unsold EVs from other dealerships.
“It is an amazing market,” said Jeanson to Automotive News, who runs the dealership with his brother Hugo and uncle Mario. “Even customers who come in for conventional product and ask for gas, we sell them an EV.”
Amazingly, Bourgeois Chevrolet doesn’t advertise, instead racking up sales by offering first-hand driving experience to customers who evidently are no longer interested in conventional gas vehicles after they’ve driven an EV.
The 50-year-old dealership also doesn’t run on commission, the rationale being that most salesmen will earn a higher salary selling conventional vehicles to customers. The dealer’s salespeople are selling cars on merit, rather than to drive up commission.
Once Jeanson explains the math behind buying an EV to a customer, buying a $40,000 electric vehicle versus a $20,000 Cruze makes sense.
The cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity makes short work of the cost of gasoline, even at current historically low prices, and the Quebec government offers an $8,000 rebate to Volt buyers.
“The person who saves most with an electric car is the person who empties the battery every day,” says Jeanson. “Because we’re an hour from Montreal, people commute to Montreal. Everyone buying an EV is calculating how much they’re going to save.”
In addition to the 93 Bolt orders, Bourgeois Chevrolet has also pre-sold 43 2017 Chevrolet Volts, which only went into production last week.
The city of Montreal plans to have 106 downtown EV charging stations installed by spring 2016, with plans to expand the network to 1,000 charging stations by 2020.