The 2011 Chevrolet Volt
Patrick Rall's picture

Chevy Volt wins December sales battle, Nissan Leaf wins 2011

The Chevrolet Volt ended 2011 the same way that it started, comfortably outselling the Nissan Leaf (for the third month in a row) but as the numbers were tallied up for all of the 2011 year, the Nissan Leaf claimed the title of the bestselling electric vehicle in the American market.

In December 2011, the Chevrolet Volt moved 1,529 units while celebrating the first full year of sales. Last December, the Volt began reaching customers in limited markets around the US with 326 units sold and it is fitting that in the month where the Volt celebrated its one year anniversary, it also saw its best month in terms of sales. Along with being the best month for the Volt, 1,529 units marks the second best month in terms of sales for a single EV next to the Leaf’s performance in June 2011 (1,709 units). More importantly, even though the Volt was facing questions about a risk of battery fires in very severe wrecks, the Volt showed growth over the past four months of the year moving 723 units in September, 1,108 in October, 1,139 in November and 1,529 in December. Hopefully for GM, the Volt can keep up this momentum through 2012 as more and more markets around the country are granted access to the Volt. For the year, Chevy sold 7,671 Volt EVs – well short of the original goal but considering the lofty goals of GM for the Volt’s first year combined with the slow growth of EV popularity in the US, 2011 proved to be a so-so year for the Volt.

Unlike the Chevy Volt which showed a steady incline in sales over the past four months of 2011, the Nissan Leaf had a rough end to the 2011 calendar year. After dominating the Volt throughout the majority of the spring, summer and fall, deliveries of the Leaf dropped off through October (849) and November (672) while things were booming for the Volt. The Leaf rebounded a bit in December with 954 units sold but that paled in comparison to the 1,500+ Chevy Volt units sold during the same period. However, Nissan likely isn’t losing too much sleep due to a slower winter season thanks to the fact that with 9,674 Leaf electric vehicles sold in 2011 – Nissan won the battle of the mainstream EV sales for the first full year.

Beginning last December and continuing through the first few months of 2011, the Volt had a comfortable lead in sales over the Nissan Leaf – the only other legitimate electric vehicle sold in this market. Unfortunately for General Motors, as the year went on, Nissan continued to increase the output and delivery of their EV while the Volt’s sales struggled, especially in the middle of the year. Even though the Volt was able to handily outsell the Leaf in October, November and again in December, it was not enough to overcome the massive lead built by the Nissan EV during the Volt’s slow summer months. By a margin of 9,674 to 7,671, the Nissan Leaf gets to wear the title of America’s bestselling electric vehicle for 2011 – the first full year of the electric vehicle.

2012 could be interesting and tough for both Chevrolet and Nissan as there will likely be a flurry of new EVs hitting the US market including models like the Ford Focus along with increased pressure from new plug-in hybrids like the Toyota Prius. Click here for the TorqueNews review of the 2011 Chevy Volt.

For more on the 2011 sales numbers for the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, click here!

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It would be interesting to know how many Volts were purchased by a government entity (local, state, federal).
It is worth noting, that until October 2011, the Volt was only available in very few markets. Not sure how this compares with the Leaf. Also skewing the comparisons, the tax incentive expired January 3rd, 2012 (unless it was extended), which surely impacted December sales of both as buyers rushed to take advantage of this before it was too late.