During the month of July 2012, General Motors sold 1,849 copies of the Chevrolet Volt – marking the second best sales month for the electric Chevy for 2012 behind the 2,289 Volts sold in March. For comparison to last year, GM sold just 125 Volts in July 2011 so the rate of increase is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500%. On the year, GM has sold 10,666 examples of the Chevy Volt which accounts for an increase of 272% compared to the first seven months of 2011. More importantly for GM, the Volt has amassed what is likely an insurmountable lead over the Nissan Leaf in annual sales.
While the Chevrolet Volt had one of its best months of 2012, the Nissan Leaf had one of its worst. Nissan managed to deliver only 395 Leaf electric vehicles in July 2012, marking the second worst month of the year since the 370 units delivered in April. This is a decrease of almost 60% from the Leaf sales in July 2011 and even worse – July 2012 sales were about 466% lower than those seen by the Chevy Volt. On the year, Nissan has delivered just 3,543 copies of the Leaf electric vehicle – a decrease of over 26% compared to Leaf deliveries during the same time period last year.
The Chevrolet Volt has led the electric vehicle segment for every month of 2012 since February with the Nissan Leaf claiming the first month of the year. Nissan started the year hot but with 676 units sold in January, the Leaf has been nowhere near that number in the past six months of the year. On the other hand, the Chevrolet Volt has shown strong sales numbers every month and at their current rate – they are well on their way to reaching the goal of 20,000 units sold during 2012. At this point, I would have to say that it will be nearly impossible for Nissan to sell enough Leaf electric vehicles over the next five months to even reach the number of Volts that Chevrolet has sold in the first 7 months. In fact, with a monthly average of just 591 units, Nissan is on pace to delivery just over 7,000 vehicles on the year while the current pace of the Chevrolet Volt (1,778 per month) puts the electric Chevy on pace to move over 21,000 units. Realistically, GM could stop selling Chevrolet Volt sedans right now and there is a pretty good chance that the Nissan Leaf would not catch up by year’s end unless every single prospective Volt owner went out and bought a Leaf instead.
The problem (as we have said before) is that Nissan is having a hard time meeting the demand for their Leaf electric vehicle. At this point, the company is accepting new orders for the Leaf but they still have not worked their way through the initial 20,000 pre-orders taken in 2010. Because of that, prospective electric vehicle buyers can walk into a Chevrolet dealership and drive out with a new Volt but a trip to a Nissan dealership could mean a lengthy wait before you ever see your new Leaf. Nissan expects that the Leaf will be available in far stronger supply once the company begins American production later this year but that influx of new units will almost certainly come too late to help the Leaf lead the electric vehicle segment in the US for the second straight year.