Lowered demand in Chevy Volt due to price, not fires, interest in Nissan Leaf stable
A number of news reports are circulating a claim, credited to CNW Market Research, that "federal investigation of three fires that occurred after Volt crash tests lowered demand for the [Chevy Volt]." This claim seemed counter to the fact that Chevy Volt sales grew significantly even after revelation of the fire condition in that car. While it would seem likely that fire risk in the Chevy Volt would cause lowered demand, we learned that media reports mischaracterized the CNW report, thanks to CNW's Art Spinella we have the actual report they'd sent to their subscribers. The CNW report is an informative critique of the market position of both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, and interestingly concludes that interest in the Chevy Volt has declined not due to fire risk but due to its cost.
The CNW report shows a dramatic decrease in interest for the Chevy Volt, and a nearly stable interest for the Nissan Leaf, between March 2011 and December 2011. The reasons for that decrease are more complex than the NHTSA investigation causing the lowered interest, because of factors like the Chevy Volt price being out of reach for most consumers. In fact one of the sub-headings in CNW's report is "Fire concerns; Price dominates" leading a section talking about how there is "little doubt that concerns about accidents and fires play a role in these views [of decreased interest]" and that while a third of those interviewed by CNW cited fire concerns as "key reasons for not considering either the Volt or Leaf" that "when push comes to shove, the real issue is price".
CNW's report assessed consumer sentiment of both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf in March and December 2011. The latter date is important because it is after revelation of the Chevy Volt battery fire and subsequent NHTSA investigation.
The data shows consumers generally like the styling of both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, rating the Volt style higher than the style of the Nissan Leaf. Between March and December 2011 the ranking for style of both vehicles did not change appreciably.
As for the likelihood of interviewees to buy either a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, CNW reported a marked decrease in interest in the Chevy Volt, and a fairly steady interest in the Nissan Leaf.
On the Chevy Volt, the "General Consumers" and "New Intenders" were overwhelmingly unlikely to buy the Volt anyway, and this did not change between March and December 2011. In the "1st Adopters" and "EV Enthusiasts" groups there was a dramatic decrease in interest. For example the number of EV Enthusiasts "very unlikely" to buy a Chevy Volt increased from 6.1% in March 2011 to 35.4% in December 2011.
On the Nissan Leaf however the interest remained almost unchanged from March to December. Again the "General Consumers" and "New Intenders" were overwhelmingly unlikely to buy the Leaf. However for the "1st Adopters" and "EV Enthusiasts" interest in the Nissan Leaf remained strong with majorities reporting they're "likely" or "very likely" to buy a Leaf.