Shopper interest in Chevy Volt on the decline?

Buyers of all types are reportedly losing interest in the Chevrolet Volt.

While few, if any, products ever have the ability to sustain momentum in the months and years following their introduction, one research firm says that the Chevrolet Volt is experiencing a more precipitous decline in interest than it expected.

The Volt went on sale at the tail end of 2010. Through the first seven months of 2011, Chevrolet has delivered fewer than 3,000 Volts and, as Leftlane discovered, some dealerships have more than a couple of Volts sitting on lots waiting for buyers. That's not something General Motors wanted to see, although the company hasn't started selling Volts in all 50 states just yet.

But CNW Marketing Research says that buyer interest in the Volt is declining. Back in March, CNW found that 21 percent of early adopters were willing to consider a Volt; by July, that figure dropped to 14.6 percent. Early adopter interest tends to trail off as products become not so new any longer, but CNW noticed a more serious decline among those who considered themselves "electric vehicle enthusiasts." While the extended-range Volt isn't a pure EV since it has a gas engine that essentially works as a generator when needed, it is generally lumped in with EVs. These "enthusiasts" saw interest decline from 25 to 17 percent during the same period.

Overall, CNW found that "all categories of new-car intenders are reporting less likelihood of even considering the vehicle."

Buyers said that the Volt's fairly hefty cost of admission is the main factor driving them away from showrooms. Volt's list price is just over $40,000, although nearly every buyer will qualify for a hefty $7,500 federal tax credit in the U.S. Some states subsidize that asking price even further.

Perhaps the Volt's biggest rival isn't other EVs, but rather GM's similarly-sized Chevrolet Cruze. At around $20,000 for a 42 mpg highway Cruze Eco, the four-door doesn't run on electric power but undoubtedly costs less to run over the long term. Cruze has sailed into the top sales position among GM's passenger cars; more than 147,000 have found buyers through the first seven months of this year.

That's not to say that the Volt isn't the only EV seeing declining interest. The cheaper EV-only Nissan Leaf is outselling the Volt, but Leftlane found that dealerships also have the high-tech vehicle in stock even though it is only offered in limited markets.