Prius most traded-in car for Volt and Leaf, because of HOV stickers?
During last week's CA State Senate meeting on electric vehicle deployment, GM's Shad Balch and Nissan's David Peterson both claimed the Toyota Prius was the number 1 traded-in vehicle for the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. The claims came between trading barbs on the competing electric car fast charging standards, and could have been written off as car manufacturer one-up-manship, if it weren't for a press release published by GM a couple days ago making the same claim. While this is the sort of data car manufacturers must know, it isn't very well publicized.
Unfortunately a search for solid figures on the cars most traded in to buy electric cars came up largely empty handed, other than GM's recent press release, and a few reports last year.
As for why Prius owners would be trading to either a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf, the reason isn't the obvious one about Prius being early adopter clean vehicle enthusiasts who are a natural fit for electric car ownership. Instead it has to do with stickers allowing solo drivers to drive in the carpool lanes in California.
GM's press release talks about the large number of Chevy Volt buyers who have never been GM customers before. GM positions this as a success from developing the Volt, because it is winning new customers to GM. The Toyota Prius is the most traded in car, followed by the Toyota Camry, Honda Civic and BMW 3 Series.
“I owned a Prius for six years and loved it. I was one of the first to sign-up for the plug-in (version),” said Steve Glenn of Santa Monica, Calif. “While I was waiting for it to ship, I learned that the Volt would qualify for the HOV stickers, so I did a test drive. I fell in love then. It’s faster, better appointed and gets far better gas mileage than the Prius (or the plug-in). I've driven it over 1,000 miles and I've only used five gallons of gas.”
GM goes on to quote Shaun Del Grande, President of the Del Grande Dealership Group (DGDG) in Silicon Valley, to say that “On a daily basis new customers are coming into our dealership to check out the Volt because of its breakthrough technology and superior fuel economy. Our dealership is seeing new customers who are trading in Prius and Civic models, and we’re just getting started with electric vehicles.” DGDG's dealership chain also includes a Nissan dealership, where the Nissan Leaf is sold, as well as a Coda dealership where the all electric Coda sedan is sold.
Volt marketing manager Cristi Landy also said, “Nearly seven in 10 Volt buyers are new to Chevrolet.”
It was difficult to find much evidence for Nissan's claim that the Prius is the most traded in car for the Nissan Leaf.