NEW YORK (TheStreet) --For the next 50 years, one business I don't want to be in is the carservice business. Why? Because with the conversion to electric cars,there will be very little to service.This is what we call a secular shift, in this case of Olympianproportions. How many hard disk drives do you repair in the iPad andiPhone world? None, of course. They don't exist. Likewise, with electric cars, how often do you need to change oil,change spark plugs, timing belts, various other hoses, crankshafts,transmissions and much more. The answer is never. Most people bring their cars into their dealer once every 5,000 or10,000 miles to spend approximately $200 or sometimes much more tochange oil, filters and a lot more. If you have an electric car, youtoo will bring in your car from time to time, but primarily to doone thing only: rotate the tires, and by the way you can do thatyourself. There are at least 45,000 Chevy Volts on the road worldwide as of thelast month -- perhaps closer to 50,000 if you count some internationallocations that lag in their sales reports. Cumulatively, they havebeen driven 300 million miles thus far.
With a regular gasoline/diesel-only car, those 300 million miles wouldhave been a gold mine for the auto service business. With the ChevyVolt, not so much. This is one reason the Chevy Volt, for the second year in a row, hasobtained the highest customer rating of any car in Consumer Reports.Ninety-one percent of owners recommend it to their friends, neighbors, colleagues and relatives. In other words, the Chevy Volt basically sells itself. No need forexpensive advertising, so GM ( GM) is clearly wasting some money here. Themost effective sales method is the enthusiastic owners. Why pay $100million a year to magazines and TV channels, when existing owners willpromote the car for free? During the first four months of 2013, sales of Chevy Volt inside theU.S. are only barely up from the equivalent four months of 2012. Still,this is a reduction in sales momentum. It is no catastrophe to be uponly 3% year over year, but in previous months the increase was oftenover 100%.
As a result, some prospective Volt buyers are waiting for an improved2.0 version to show up in approximately 15 to 18 months from now. Thisone might be slightly less expensive, but more importantly, it will have aricher interior, space for five people (instead of four), and perhapsbetter infotainment technology. 2. Tesla ( TSLA). The California carmaker achieved volume production in December 2012, and seeing that it is an outstanding car, it has taken sales from Volt owners who don't mindspending approximately three times as much on the car. A loaded Teslais over $100,000, whereas a loaded Volt, after tax credits and otherdiscounts, could be as low as $30,000. Tesla also fits five adults, as well as much more luggage than theVolt. The novelty of a car locally made in Silicon Valley has alsosteered sales away from the Volt to Tesla in the country's largestelectric car market by far -- Silicon Valley. 3. The Cadillac ELR. For those who would like a great-looking Volt but don't need a car as big as the Tesla and don't want to go all-electric as with theTesla -- some are waiting for the 2014 Cadillac ELR. GM announced inJanuary 2013 that deliveries of the Cadillac ELR would start inJanuary 2014. That was the exact moment -- January 2013 -- when Volt sales started tomoderate, to the point of being approximately flat sequentially. It'sclear that some people are waiting for the Cadillac version of theVolt, and everyone agrees that it is stunning.