Patrick Rall's picture

The Nissan Leaf easily outsells the Chevy Volt in May 2011

Sales figures from around the industry are trickling in and it looks as though the 2011 Nissan Leaf has outsold the 2011 Chevrolet Volt as the battle of the electric vehicles rages on.

Since the first official month of delivery late last year, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt has held an overall lead in sales over the 2011 Nissan Leaf but in April, Nissan was able to boast of being the bestselling electric vehicle in the US for the first time as their all-electric vehicle outsold the extended range Volt sedan by a margin of 573 to 493. General Motors stated that deliveries were slow because they were working on getting demo vehicles to dealerships but as the May numbers have come in – things haven’t improved for GM. In fact, they have gotten worse as the number of Volts delivered last month was down to just 481; compared to the 1,142 Nissan Leaf units delivered.

The good news for GM is that they still lead in overall yearly sales, as the Volt has sent out 2,184 units while the Nissan Leaf has seen just 2,167 vehicles reach the hands of consumers. However, Nissan has been gradually building momentum as Chevrolet has remained steady – with a slightly downward direction. Based on this direction, Nissan could stake their claim as being the bestselling electric vehicle in America as soon as next month.

One key difference is that Nissan pre-sold the 2011 Nissan Leaf online and it is those pre-ordered units that Nissan is working to deliver and, for the time being, no new orders for the Leaf are being accepted. On the other hand, Chevrolet went the route of a more traditional new model rollout, with models trickling to dealerships and being snatched up relatively quickly. This means that anyone who wants an electric vehicle but did not pre-order a Leaf last year can either wait until Nissan reopens the ordering process for the Leaf – or they can go to a Chevrolet dealership and walk out with a 2011 Volt – provided that they live in one of the limited markets currently selling the electric Chevy with a range extending gasoline engine.

General Motors has announced plans to expand the production capabilities for the Chevrolet Volt as they begin production on the European version that will go on sale later this year as the Opel Ampera. As GM begins shipping Voltec-based vehicles around the world while also extending the area of availability in the US, they should have a far better chance of maintaining their lead in the battle of the emission-free vehicles.

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Why do sales comparisons for cars that have not even had their national launches yet? Both of these vehicles have been sold just to limited test markets, and there has been no attempt thus far to meet queued demand for either car. Every car rolling off the lines have buyers waiting, so it's not a question of demand. Since GM has closed the plant for a month to get ready for increased production, I (seriously!) expect to see a headline next month about how the Volt sales have decreased to zero, along with the pundits telling us how this means that, clearly, this means nobody wants the car! Please, wait until production has been ramped up and the cars are available worldwide, later this year. Then we can talk about valid sales numbers.
Finally, the battle between these two giant models was over and leaf had dominated the sales for this year. Good news for Nissan as they would have gained a massive revenue to date. Basically the auto maker has engaged electric technology on leaf, which is of course one of their campaigns against the rising cost of gas. Leaf for someone who does not know about it is actually powered by a Li-On battery which definitely is the factor that made the difference. On the other hand, the ease of tuning and touring could also be found in this model. With the presence of parts store online that offer replacement parts such as, suspension, alternator and other interior parts, there would be no difficulty in doing the repair job most especially for drivers and future leaf owners.
Wow, that's some breathless reporting based on a difference of 80. Hold tight to your integrity Mr. Rall. Carnival barkers don't get much respect.
Apeweek, while you have a legitimate point, that all cars produced are effectivley sold and sales do not reflect demand. However, I still think the stats are relevant as they are a reflection of how easy or difficult it is to ramp up production on what are revolutionary cars. The ability to build thousands of vehciles with 15 to 25 kw-hr of Li-Ion batteries is central to the success of the entire EV enterprise.