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The Chevrolet Volt starts 2013 with another beating of the Nissan Leaf in January

The Chevrolet Volt started off 2013 in much better form than it did in 2012, moving almost twice as many units in January than did the Nissan Leaf as the electric Chevy looks to win a second straight EV sales title.


The Chevrolet Volt beat the Nissan Leaf badly in 2012, claiming the annual sales title while outselling Nissan in 10 of the 12 months. January 2012 was by far the worst month of that year for the Volt and along with November, January was one of the two months won by Nissan. However, the Chevrolet Volt came storming out of the gate in January 2013 and claimed the monthly title of being America’s bestselling electric vehicle.

General Motors sold 1,140 copies of the Chevrolet Volt in January 2013 and while that number is low compared to many of the months in 2012 – this marks a huge improvement over the first month of 2012. Also, this figure puts the Volt well above the rest of the electric vehicle segment in terms of monthly sales which gets the extended range electric Chevy off to a great start in its pursuit of the 2013
EV sales title. Considering that GM sold only 603 copies of the Volt in January 2012, the fact that the company moved almost twice as many vehicles in the first month of 2013 could indicate a very strong year for the Volt.

The Nissan Leaf ended the 2012 year strong with sales in the 1,500 unit range each of the last three months but in January 2013, the Leaf posted fairly poor figures of just 650 units sold. In addition to being a steep decline from the rate at which the Leaf was selling at the end of last year, this balmy sales figure represents a decline from the 676 Leaf EVS sold in January 2012. Nissan had originally hoped to deliver 20,000 units a year but after falling well short of that in both 2011 and 2012, 2013 hasn’t started in a way that would make us think that the Leaf will get anywhere near that 20k figure any time soon without the company making some big changes. One big change came around the 2013 North American International Auto Show when Nissan announced a huge price cut for the Leaf but even with stronger sales – the Leaf faces production constraints that are currently preventing the Japanese automaker from making a real run at the Chevy Volt.

The advantage for the Chevrolet Volt right now is that there is really no competition on the market for this electric sedan with a range extending gasoline engine. There are plenty of hybrids on the market that can offer some electric-only range along with incredible fuel economy but no other vehicle sold in the US right now can offer the electric range AND the endless range of a gasoline engine. However, things are only going to get tougher for the Nissan Leaf as there are several new models already on the market along with more on their way that offer similar all-electric driving for a lower price. Vehicles like the Ford Focus Electric, the Chevrolet Spark Electric and the Fiat 500e cut directly into the market share of the Nissan Leaf while really not offering any threat to the Chevrolet Volt. Working in the favor of the Leaf is the company’s plan to begin building the electric vehicle here in the US but it is hard to say whether or not having more Leaf EVs available for sale around the country will allow it to catch up to the far more capable Chevrolet Volt with new, inexpensive competition arriving this year.


John Goreham    February 4, 2013 - 8:40PM

Good, detailed overview. So we have the Volt at about $42K, the Leaf at about $35K, The Focus electric and the Fit Electric (bi-coastal only). Plus CODA if they survive, all three in the same price range as the Leaf, plus a pile of plug-in hybrids like the Accord, C-Max Energi, Prius (3 of them), and others. So at least 5 separate unrelated companies offering electric drive vehicles in the US market. And the taxpayers need to keep lending money to Tesla and Fisker why exactly? So they can develop another electric car for millionaires? So they can someday develop an electric car to be the seventh or eight in the marketplace in the $30K to $40K price range.

Anonymous (not verified)    February 6, 2013 - 9:40AM

Idiots... Volt isn't electric... quit trying to make a story out of something that isn't...

John Goreham    February 14, 2013 - 1:00PM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

It's funny. You might be right, but the three times I tested it there was never any power to the car except the battery and electric motor. My neighbor owns one and he plugs it in every night. I'll have to tell him it's not an electric car. He will be bummed. It means he will have to return the federal and state EV tax rebates he got. Thanks for the heads up.