• Feb 2nd 2011 at 8:00PM
  • 74
The Chevy Volt has been outselling the Nissan Leaf, but... The Chevy Volt has been outselling the Nissan Leaf, but overall sales numbers are underwhelming (GM).
January auto sales have been announced, and amidst the surging numbers lies an interesting competition: The first full month that the electric Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt have been available for purchase.

Over the past year, the hype surrounding these "mass market EVs" has been huge, with media outlets from the mainstream to fan blogs covering every bit of minutiae as if we were on the cusp of a transportation renaissance. So it's perhaps underwhelming that Chevy won the first month of this sales battle, with just 321 Volts delivered in January, against just 87 for Nissan's Leaf.

Granted, the cars are not on sale nationally yet, with only select markets like Michigan, Washington, D.C., and California picked for the initial rollout. But even in one of those areas, it is likely that most consumers haven't even seen a Leaf or Volt on the road yet. In fact, the Leaf was outsold in January by the Pontiac G6, a car that GM discontinued in November 2009. Among the many vehicles that topped the cutting edge Volt in sales was the Lincoln Town Car, arguably the oldest passenger vehicle still in production, as it is built on a Ford platform that dates to 1980.

Despite the low sales out of the gate, General Motors has reportedly been mulling the idea of boosting Volt production to 25,000 units this year and 120,000 units in 2012, more than doubling capacity. It recently announced that it would expand Volt sales nationwide by the end of this year, which is earlier than expected. Nissan has stated that it intends to sell 50,000 Leafs annually worldwide, and will be building 4,000 per month by March.

Overall auto sales for the month were good, with a seasonally adjusted annual estimate of 12.62 million, according to Autodata Corporation. That would mean the Volt and Leaf represent less than even a tenth of a percent of auto sales.

Clearly, it is going to take a long time for EV's to gain a significant market share. According a study by J.D. Power and Associates, EVs will still only constitute a small fraction of the entire automotive market long into the future. Its estimates place EV market share at just 7.3 percent globally by 2020.


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  • 74 Comments
      ynkefshrman
      • 4 Years Ago
      How far will it go melting 1" of ice and keeping passengers warm at 0 degrees.
      goatcars2
      • 4 Years Ago
      Am I to understand people aren't rushing out to a buy $40,000 glorified golf carts...Who woulda' thunk ************ hard to believe ANYBODY would even consider a Leaf with the real possibility of becoming stranded on a major highway with dead batteries. At least the Volt will get you home with their supplemental gas engine. In the real world the Leaf's 75 mile range is a joke. The first time you are stuck in a major traffic jam in stop and go traffic, where you can't turn the engine off to preserve batteriy power, you will be stranded!!!!~ Also, severe cold or heat reduces range significantly from Nissan's optimnistic estimates. These cars will NEVER sell anywhere near expectaions, but the Volt has the upper hand in that you will never find yourself without power.
        ajschrod
        • 4 Years Ago
        @goatcars2
        Nobody said the Volt or leaf were any more than "first models" of cars from the future. They certainly aren't perfected, although I would dispute your take on "looks"--the Volt looks GREAT to me!
          kitharris1
          • 4 Years Ago
          @ajschrod
          he said nothing about looks! these things and hybryds are a waste of our tax dollars.
      steves1709
      • 4 Years Ago
      To HPabst: It is sad that you make a comment like this - you presume to speak for everyone that nobody wants an EV, and you haven't a clue about the subject at hand. Neither the Volt or Leaf uses lead - acid batteries as their primary energy storage - both web sites say that lithium - ion cells / batteries are standard. Besides - ethynene glycol, gasoline, lead, and motor oil are quite capable of polluting the environment when released from standard cars!
      • 4 Years Ago
      nobody wants those 2 pieces of feces, there both a toxic load of sealed lead acid more damaging to the earth than fossil fuels.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There is a great interest in both the LEAF and the VOLT. It is commendable that they are being manufactured and consumers appreciate having the option of either plug in (LEAF) or a plug in plus motor (VOLT). Either way, both vehicles will provide a good transport alternative in place of the regular internal combustion engine.
        harleydavid105
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Leaf is a good alternative in Japan. In the USA drive a Volt. Or any GM or Ford. Drive American.
      roleku
      • 4 Years Ago
      People are waiting for the company's to get the bugs out of them. Give them another year and sales will climb.
      Christine
      • 4 Years Ago
      What a crock. I agree with SteamWhistle, electricity in the DC area is so expensive, I can't imagine there is much in the way of savings on that angle by buying one of these "green" vehicles. Also, to produce that electrical energy, a fossil fuel is still being burned somewhere. Seems to me that in the long run it might be even less efficient to burn fossil fuels 200 miles away. Turn it into electricity. Send it to a metropolis, charge a battery and go. By the way, what is the environmental impact of all these batteries we are producing to put in hybrids and now electric vehicles?! What are we going to do with the chemicals and heavy metals when these batteries reach the end of their service lives?
      • 4 Years Ago
      A true liberal when an American company does good and wins sales it's always "it was tiny"
      johnguthrieyates
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well here's another one ... Buy American
      goatcars2
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't believe anybody would be naive enough to think they could buy a Leaf as a daily driver. Judging by their slow sales maybe they don't!!!! I live in S California where traffic tie ups are a way of life. How will you like your glorified golf cart the first time you get stuck on the Ventura freeway with no power. You can't get a jump start and even if you could it takes 4 hours for a "quick" charge!!!, You can't carry spare batteries.... Call a Flatbed. This scenario will be played out nationwide and the novelty will soon wear off. Also not mentioned by Nissan, extreme heat or cold severely limits battery life and range. A limited range electric vehicle simply isn't feasible yet.....the technology isn't there. The Volt is really a hybrid and makes more sense from that standpoint in that you won't get stranded out of power. However, it makes little economic sense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the volt is a winner and the sales figures will undoubtedly continue to grow. The new Chevy Cruze is a great little car too. Way to go GM!
      • 4 Years Ago
      My daughter turned 16 last month and there was just no way we could afford to add her to our existing insurance policy. I started shopping around for new car insurance and found this site: ( http://tinyurl.com/InsuranceTip ) I just put in my ZIP code and received four quotes instantly after filling out your form. By comparing rates we were actually able to include my daughter in our new policy and not pay anymore per month for car insurance than we were originally paying for just me and my husband!
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