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.