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The Nissan Leaf clubs the Chevy Volt in July 2011

Compared to June and May sales, the Nissan Leaf was way down in July 2011 but with Chevrolet seeing a similar (and substantial) decline in electric vehicle sales last month, the Leaf easily won the battle for July 2011 over the Chevy Volt.

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In July 2011, Nissan handed out 931 new Leaf electric vehicles – marking the first time they’ve sold less than 1,000 units since April. Compared to June, the Leaf saw a decline of 46%. This sudden drop in Nissan Leaf sales opened the door for General Motors to get back into the electric vehicle game but unfortunately, the Volt saw a decline of nearly 80% in July 2011 compared to just one month before as just 125 new Chevy Volt sedans left dealerships last month. While it was rough for Nissan to see a drop to just 931 units, GM’s numbers of just 125 Volts last month makes July 2011 the worst month for the Volt since being introduced last year.

What does all of this mean for the future of the electric vehicle? Right now, it is too early to tell exactly what is going wrong for the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt but one main issue with these vehicles could be the price in relation to other highly efficient competition. For someone who doesn’t have any city commute, the short electric range of the Nissan Leaf makes that vehicle useless as a daily driver and for those who exceed the electric only range of the Volt – there are several vehicles on the American market that offer better fuel economy for far less than $41,000. As more and more new compacts and subcompacts (like the Ford Fiesta or Chevrolet Sonic) near the 40mpg mark with price tags closer to $20,000 – the American consumer who drives 100+ miles each day likely finds their money better spent on non-hybrid models like the Fiesta and Sonic rather than ponying up the 40 grand required of the Volt.

Another problem for the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt could be that in those limited markets where the Leaf and Volt are currently offered, those people who want one of these innovative new vehicles may be on short order – meaning that the people who want a Volt or Leaf in the limited markets may have already gotten one. This problem could be solved as these two vehicles spread into more markets around the United States over the next few months. However, if the bigger problem for these electric vehicles is the fact that they are not practical for most American consumers – especially when price is taken into account – the automakers building these electric cars may need to take a closer look at their pricing and capabilities for these new vehicles to succeed on a larger scale.

Other Electric Vehicle News:
The Nissan Leaf bests the Chevy Volt in June 2011 sales
The 2012 Nissan Leaf gets a healthy price increase
Nissan LEAF earns five-star NCAP rating
Enterprise, FedEx betting big on electric vehicles
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt comes to the Carolinas

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Robert (not verified)    August 2, 2011 - 3:48PM

Can the author on an automotive news site really be this mis-informed? "What does all of this mean for the future of the electric vehicle? Right now, it is too early to tell exactly what is going wrong for the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt." There is no mystery here. The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf are simply SOLD OUT. GM shut down the Hamtrack plant in July to switch over to the MY 2012 Volt after quickly selling all of the 2011 Volts it produced with consumers waiting in line - often for months - to get one. GM reserved several hundred vehicles as dealer Demo models so people could come in and do test drives.

The Volt is doing well enough that GM is increasing production to 5,000 units a month by the end of this year.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

I think this needs a correction. It factually incorrect.

Anonymous (not verified)    August 2, 2011 - 4:23PM

Why does everyone compare the two cars? They should be cheering that either car sells, period. Get us off of GAS!

Michelle Bunke… (not verified)    August 2, 2011 - 4:40PM

On behalf of Chevrolet, I wanted to provide some context for July sales this month. Our sales of 125 Volts this month are exactly what we anticpated to sell...this has always been the plan. Here are some facts and figures that I wanted to share... thought they may help.

Volt sales are exactly as we expected as we shutdown production in June and July to revamp the plant to increase Volt production in 2012. As a result of the plant upgrades, planned Volt and Ampera production capacity this year will increase to 16,000 units. In 2012, global production capacity is expected to be 60,000 vehicles with an estimated 45,000 to be delivered in the United States

In 2011 we built 3975 vehicles - about 550 are assigned as dealer demos, 3200 sold to date and 125 are used for internal uses(engineering, marketing/training and media vehicles)

We are "virtually sold out" - only about 100 2011 Volts left in stock - or 1 per every 6 dealers
On average a Volt spent about 13 days in the dealership (this includes prepping for delivery)
Dealers nationwide were able to enter orders for the 2012 MY Volts beginning on June 10.

Our dealers have requested allocation 4 to 7 times that available each month since launch. So, the problem is not demand but rather supply.

Michelle Bunker
Chevrolet Communciations

@bobbleheaguru (not verified)    August 2, 2011 - 4:45PM

I would kindly ask the author of this article to see that the demand for both these vehicles exceeds the supply. The numbers are based on what can be produced at this point. Every Volt is accounted for... probably the same for the Leaf. I am waiting 4 months to get a Volt.

Not need to "hyposutalate" on the demand side arguments... they do not make logical sense yet as people are still waiting to get these vehicles.

The 2012 MSRP of a Volt is $40K - $7500 = $32,500... less than $3K more than an average MSRP for new vehicles sold in the US. While the price is high... it is not astronomical.

Anonymous (not verified)    August 2, 2011 - 5:07PM

Torque, owned by oil interests, posts ridiculous misinformation...

Both electric vehicles are sold out with production scheduled to ramp up.

Zod (not verified)    August 3, 2011 - 12:38PM

Is the writer biased or lazy? How can one spend the time to write this speculative drivel, but not do an ounce of homework? The answer on sales is that there were only that many cars were available. The sales number has zero reflection on demand, as there are still many people waiting for their cars to be made. They're sold out. Plain and simple.

The writer is either anti-EV, or extremely incompetent.

Joe (not verified)    August 3, 2011 - 10:25PM

Look at Ms. Bunker pathetically trying to defend that scum of a company GM. We've had it with Garbage Motors lady. I come from a GM family and I know exactly what goes on in Warren. You people do not know nor have ever known how to make cars, plain and simple.

It's quite sad how you had to get bailed out by taxpayers who hated GM in the first place. Look at GM trading at 27.50, your stock price keeps going down and down!


GMC Dealer St Louis (not verified)    August 8, 2011 - 12:55PM

If supply can't meet demand that that obviously means both cars are doing well regardless of what the numbers say. There is a definite demand for the cars and more people are willing to go green and lessen our dependency on foreign oil. I do think that it takes a certain person to be willing to pony up $40k for an electric car. There are people who can afford $40k for a car but would rather spend it on a 3-series or add in 10k more and maybe an E-class.