While there are other electric cars available in the US market like the Fisker Karma, the Mitsubishi I and the Tesla Roadster/ Model S – none of those models see the volume in sales experienced by the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The Nissan electric vehicle was able to claim the bragging rights of being the bestselling EV in the US for 2011 and that claim continued into the first month of 2012 but since then, the Chevrolet Volt has outsold the Leaf badly each and every month – allowing the electric Chevy to build an annual sales lead of 5,669 units through the first half of the year.
In June 2012, General Motors saw the second best month of the year for the Chevrolet Volt as the innovative Chevy sedan moved 1,760 units, second only to the March total of 2,289 Volts sold. 1,760 units accounts for a 214% improvement over the same month last year. The Nissan Leaf had its third best month of 2012 in June but with only 535 electric Nissans delivered last month, the Leaf continued to quickly lose ground to the Volt. Junes sales figures for the Leaf equals a 69% decline from the sales figures from June 2011 but even if Nissan had posted similar figures to last June – they would have fallen short of the Volt. On the year, GM has sold 8,817 Chevrolet Volts (an improvement of 221% compared to the first half of 2011) while Nissan has delivered only 3,148 Leaf EVs (down 19% from 2011).
For the 2012 calendar year, GM has averaged 1,470 Chevrolet Volts sold each month which has them on pace to sell around 17,640 units on the year. However, with monthly sales reaching into the 2,200+ range, Chevrolet could best that figure. On the other hand, the Nissan Leaf is delivering just 525 units per month which would bring about an annual total of roughly 6,300 units. Based on their current delivery rate, Nissan will send out less Leaf electric vehicles through all of 2012 than GM has sold Chevrolet Volts in the first half of the year.
It should also be pointed out (once again) that General Motors is selling Chevy Volt sedans in dealerships while Nissan is still filling orders placed in 2010. This means that a prospective new electric vehicle buyer can walk into a General Motors dealership and either drive out with a Volt or at least place an order for a Volt with a clear delivery date. However, walking into a Nissan dealership will – at best – lead to some useful information on the vehicle as you cannot just buy a Leaf right now and even if you order one; there is no way to tell just when you might get that new EV. This most certainly gives General Motors a huge advantage which, when added to the decline in interest around pure electric vehicles, is allowing the Volt to pummel the Leaf in 2012 sales.
The key hope for Nissan is American production of the Leaf, which is slated to begin later this year. Nissan’s issue right now is delivering on standing orders as the company is currently unable to keep up with the two-year-old demand. This should change once Nissan has the American Leaf plant up and running but the question then becomes this…is there enough ongoing demand for the Nissan Leaf to allow it to more than triple its current monthly sales figures?
Only time will tell us how much the American Nissan Leaf production will help compete with the Chevrolet Volt but in the meantime, the Volt continues to thrash the electric Nissan in US sales. Realistically, it appears as though the Volt is building an insurmountable lead and unless Nissan production suddenly erupts, the Volt looks to be well on its way to claiming the title of being the bestselling EV in the US market.