Nissan handed out 1,953 copies of their pure electric Leaf EV last month, accounting for one of their better months of the 2013 sales year and enough to beat the Chevy Volt by almost 200 units. Even though the Volt posted its 4th best sales total of the year, with only 1,766 vehicles sold last month the gas-and-electric powered Chevrolet sedan fell to the Leaf in a monthly sales race for the 5th time this year.
Fortunately for General Motors, the record month in August and a very strong month back in June has allowed the Chevrolet Volt to hold onto a lead of 684 units over the Nissan Leaf on the year. General Motors has sold 16,760 Chevrolet Volt sedans this year while the Nissan Leaf has sent out just 16,076 vehicles during the course of the first three quarters of 2013. GM is most likely pleased to see that the Volt is hanging onto the annual EV sales lead but the odds are good that the GM brass would like to see a bit stronger growth rate. Right now, the Volt is selling at a rate of 2.5% better than the same period last year while the Nissan Leaf is selling 208% better than it did in 2012. Nissan only sold 5,212 Leaf EVs all year in 2012 – a number that was surpassed this year before the halfway point of the year.
Over the past couple years the Nissan Leaf sales have trailed the Chevrolet Volt due to production restraints at their Japanese production facility with that factory trying to supply vehicles to every global market. Nissan suggested that American sales numbers would climb once the Japanese automaker was building the Leaf here in the US and this year’s sales totals is a clear indication that the slow sales last year were due to production constraints and not a lack of consumer interest. At the same time, the Chevy Volt has continued to post big sales months with numbers that the Leaf has never gotten near and because of that – the electric Chevy (with a range extending gasoline engine) has continued to hold onto the 2013 EV segment sales lead. However, with the Leaf trailing by less than 700 units, a couple more months like September could turn the tables on GM as they strive to win their second straight annual EV sales title.
In any case, the fact that both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt – the top two bestselling electric vehicles in the segment – continue to show growth even with other new entrants into the segment. This serves to debunk the idea that electric vehicle sales are a dying fad as the first two mass market EVs on sale in the US continue to grow with models like the Fiat 500e, the Ford Focus Electric, the Chevy Spark EV and the Tesla Model S bringing more options to the segment.