The 2011 Chevrolet Volt in silver
Patrick Rall's picture

The Chevy Volt continues to dominate the Nissan Leaf in May 2012

The domination of the electric car segment in the USA by the Chevrolet Volt continued in May 2012 as the electric Chevy outsold the Nissan Leaf by a margin of better than 3 to 1 – helping the Volt to continue to pull away from the Leaf in terms of annual sales.

The Chevrolet Volt started off 2012 with an incredibly slow January, moving just 603 units and trailing the Nissan Leaf for the first month of the year but since then, the Volt has sounded beaten the Leaf in sales each and every month. Even though Nissan had what amounts to one of the better months of 2012 for their EV in May, the steadily strong sales of the Volt allowed the electric Chevy to once again pummel the Leaf.

The Chevrolet Volt moved 1,680 units last month which accounts for a whopping increase of 249.3% compared to May 2011. Chevrolet has been working to push units to dealerships around the country and outside of the original rollout schedule which had the Volt only available in select markets. Even while the steady fuel prices have reportedly slowed the sale of smaller, more efficient vehicles, the Chevy Volt has continued to dominate the electric car segment. On the year, Chevrolet has sold 7,057 Volts, an improvement of 223% over the 2,184 units that they sold through the first five months of 2011.

The Nissan Leaf delivered only 510 vehicles last month as the Japanese automaker continues to attempt to fill the 20,000 preorders placed for the Leaf way back in 2010. With 510 Leafs sold in May 2012, Nissan saw a decline of 55% compared to the 1,142 vehicles sold in May 2011 – likely made especially hard to stomach by the fact that GM is selling Volt sedans as fast as they can build them. Nissan has sold just 2,613 Leaf electric vehicles and while that proposes a 20.6% increase over the first five months of 2011 – it pales in comparison to the increase of 223% posted by the Chevy Volt.

For the year, General Motors has sold 7,057 examples of the Chevrolet Volt while Nissan has sold only 2,613 copies of the Leaf – accounting for a lead of 4,444 units for the Chevy. The Nissan Leaf is selling at a pace of 523 units per month which, at that rate, means that the Leaf is on pace to sell around 6,276 units this YEAR…781 less vehicles than GM has sold Volts through the first five months of the year. Realistically, we cannot expect the Nissan Leaf to continue with such brutally poor sales figures all year but at this rate, the Chevrolet Volt will cruise to the title of being the bestselling electric car in America for 2012. Right now, GM is averaging 1,412 Chevy Volt sedans sold per month which will lead to a year-end figure in the range of just shy of 17,000 units sold.

We should all keep in mind that the Chevrolet Volt led the US electric car segment early in 2011 before the Nissan Leaf came on strong through the summer months but Nissan seems to be struggling to deliver anywhere near 1,000 Leafs a month while the Volt has eclipse that figure every month this year shy of January. Unless the Volt sales REALLY fall off soon…Nissan won’t stand much of a chance of coming from behind this year.

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Why does the author feel we cannot expect the dismal three-digit sales figures to continue all year? There's not a lot of potential buyers who would spend $35k for an ugly car that spends most of its time parked while charging up, and whose battery is only good for 75 miles. On the other hand, a few thousand dollars more will get the Volt which can drive from coast to coast without stopping. As well as do local commutes and trips on pure battery power. It's a no brainer - sales for the electric car with extended range are going to climb upwards, sales for the electric car with limited range are going to stay flat.
"the Volt which can drive from coast to coast without stopping." Wow. I didn't know the country was less than 400 miles wide.
Shane, I suppose that the Leaf could continue with this poor sales figures through the year...but the Leaf sold poorly early last year before moving better in the middle of the year. However, the Leaf had started to hit its stride by now last year. Also, we should all keep in mind that Nissan isnt actually "selling" any Leaf vehicles right now...they are just delivering on the original pre-orders. GM, on the other hand, is selling cars.
Carry water for GM much? It is only a matter of time before this charade comes to an end completely. Popcorn at the ready...
What are you babbling on about? If you're going to post a comment, please spend the time to make sense... Or do you think that negative energy alone can stop A huge car company dead in its tracks?
Makes sense to me. I can't understand why anyone would want a pure electric car. Even if you hate fossil fuels, why limit yourself to such short distances when you can carry the ability to get you home no matter how far you go? Since your neighbors are paying the bill, why not get the Volt? Seems like a slam dunk.
The leaf will work better when there are as many charging stations are there are gas stations in the country. When more interstates and highways have charging points, the need for gasoline backup will be reduced. The electric car is still in its infancy, leaf 2.0 will probably double the range, its just a matter of time.
I think the Ford Focus Electric will beat out the Leaf in sales. It's a more mainstream-looking car with better range. Ford is also working hard to get public charging put in around those areas where it will sell well.
Who wants to have an electric filling station unless it is in the parking lot of a workplace. It's long, slow-going to convince business owners to install charging stations. Most EV (Volt, Leaf, i-MiEV) owners are happy to charge at home and not really need public charging infrastructure. Now that infrastructure charging owners are starting to move from free to $1.00 to 2.00 per hour, driving electric will cost someone more per mile than gasoline and that's not the goal here. When charging with home or business rate electricity, EVs are well under the cost of gasoline to drive due to their efficiencies. Those charging station owners trying to "cash in" on the EV growth will not be able to attract customers at anything over $1.00 of 220V charging unless it is at 6.6KW or higher.
Actually, talking to Ford's rep, a lot of these charging stations are being put into one of three places: shopping centers (Walgreen's in particular in the Denver area), airports and gathering places (arenas and the like), and WORKPLACES. Chances are, though, that you live within 40 miles of your workplace. If you do, then a car with 100 miles of battery range will get you there and back without any worries. Fifteen or twenty minutes at the shopping center can add another 10 miles to your range if you plug in. An hour at the mall could mean 30+ miles added to your battery range. Current-generation lithium-ion doesn't have the "memory" problem that older ones and NiMH batteries did, so charging whenever you feel like doesn't hurt the battery. For those who live in urban or suburban environs, an electric commuter can make sense. The rest of us will either have to wait a long time or use something else.
We will never need near as many charging stations as we do gas stations. Remember charging stations will only be needed for those "out of town" which is really a small percentage of drivers at any one time. It seems that level 3's along the interstates and restaurant rows and level 2's at hotels/motels would handle a huge % of the "traveling" population's recharging needs. Think of it this way. If you had a gas pump in your garage and were able to fill up every night with $1.00 per gallon gas, how often would you be buying $4.20 gas out on the road? My guess is pretty rare unless your work requires a lot of travel (if so then BEV probably isn't for you... yet!) As for billing for charging, of course in the long run these stations will need to charge for the energy used. The rates could easily be designed to generate a profit for station owners and still be a discount to gas prices. $1 elec cost, $2 profit still under $4 equiv $ per gal.
I don't find comparing LEAF to Volt sales very relevant information....Or LEAF to Rogue or Versa or any other gas car. How about BEV car sales to BEV car sales? LEAF to Ford Focus? LEAF to Coda? Oh, there isn't another popular-selling BEV car yet besides the LEAF? Imagine that....
Like it or not, the Leaf and the Volt are competing in the same markets and largely for the same demographic of driver. Their price tags are about the same, their purchase options about the same, etc. So they're imminently comparable. Just because their technology is different doesn't mean they aren't comparable. That's like saying you can't compare Mac to PC because they don't use the same operating system.
It should also be noted that Chevrolet's own literature compares the Volt to the Leaf.
I find the Volt the purest example of government over reach. 1680 units in one month - after a massive campaign blitz to be a dismal achievement. Since each volt costs more to make than even the $42,000 unsubsidized price that the $7500 taxpayer gift to the rich who have purchased these vehicles is just adding insult to injury. Estimates run from $250,000 (pure stupid) to $81,000 (from an unverified source) to ~$40,000 per GM - though the number is at best vague. If it is indeed $40,000 to build you can expect the real sales price to be much closer to $50,000 by the time profit, dealer transfer prices ect, ect are included into the cost. It may very well exceed $50,000 as the retail sticker price. But GM is listing them at ~$41,000 and with a big dose of tax payer money - $32K. That price is still above the cost for the average family. This car has no market - and will never have a market. Prius eats this market alive leaving just crumbs for the rest - and the Volt is a very expensive, costly crumb. We the tax payer don't need our money wasted to create vehicles for the wealthy to prove their green creds. At the current run rate of ~24000 units this year - that is $180 MILLION us dollars on rebates. Considering our current deficit wouldn't this money have a better use - like to pay off some debt??
Don't know what the numbers are? No worries, just make em up... After all, Why let reality get in the the way of a good story ...? The reality is very much the opposite of what you are spewing. Try doing a google search on oil industry subsidies. You will discover that worldwide direct oil subsidies are in excess of 200 billion a year. Don't get me wrong, not all of it is bad. In the US, 10 billion over 20 years of doe r&d in fracking tech has led directly into Mini oil boom in the mid west. 30 billion over 25 years, including joint ventures , zero interest loans and r&d grants by the Alberta and Canadian governments gave Birth to the tar sands. The 200 million being given out in consumer ev subsidies this year does not even begin to balance the slate but it does put big oil on notice that there is a new player in town, and rhe freeride is over. In a perfect world no subsidies would be needed at all... But This is a world dominated by big oil, mid east money men and dysfunctional governments giving billions away to oil companies in an effort to try keep our energy based economy from imploding as we reach peak oil. Welcome to reality.
Funny since the largest investors outside of government into "green energy" are.. oil companies.
And it’s about time too! Oil companies are not in any way "Bad organizations". Most are run by good people trying to do the right thing, if somewhat late in the cycle, by turning themselves from Petro into "energy" companies. But our economy is run by oil and will be for some time. Sadly Subsidies (or tax incentives) are the only way to exert influence on this key driver until alternatives such as NG or EV cars can add in some competition. This is the real value of these vehicles. In the mean time give thanks to the poor tax payer every time you fill up.
You reply has nothing to do with the market for the Volt or electric cars in general. It is all about an obsession many seem to have about "big oil" what ever that means - and I am sure you will tell me in long, turgid, dull detail. In fact the only market for the Volt is folks like yourself who find in oil companies the perfect straw man to place blame on the worlds ills. Frankly - you know nothing about oil companies - you simply know a few gross numbers that you find offensive. My point was - and is - that the volt will never make a dent in US car market. Huyndia is selling a gasoline enginee in nice car that gets 40 MPG - which list for $20,000 less than the volt. At that price point and that MPG - why - WHY would I buy a volt? Deal with simple facts - electric cars are not now, and never will be, a direct replacement for a majority of the automobiles used all over the world. Batter technology is expensive and toxic. Your concerns about the enviroment should be offset by the knowledge that the 600 or so pounds of lithium Ion batteries in your car are and environmental nightmare that will take vast amounts of energy to safely remove. Keep in mind that the least environmentally minded government on earth owns almost all the minerals to the rare earths to make that battery - so if you check China's record - your saving a few gallons of gasoline do nothing to offset the damage that China is doing making batteries, or at worst shipping the rare earth metals to the US for manufacture. You are sooo fixated by the "Big Oil" boogey man you can't actually see how silly all your points are. The VOLT is a mess and it is a mess that we the tax payers must pay for $7500 for each and every one. And maybe $10,000 next year - because - not enough people are buying them. Good money after bad.
Did you even read my reply? You just glanced over it and dropped a big Oil hater label on it and spewed back more "no no no".. lol. I spent the effort to help you understand reality... and you didnt even bother... thanks appreicate that.
Of course, you could have answered his "lithium-ion battery mess" comments with the simple comment that there's no worry about spillage since they always light on fire. Congress said so. :)