April US Leaf Sales Lead Volt; Volt Still Well Ahead In Total

Sales in the U.S. for the month of April again saw Nissan’s Leaf ahead in the informal rivalry between it and the Chevy Volt.

Ever accentuating the positive, Nissan reported its “best April ever” with 2,088 Leafs sold, and the “14th straight month of record sales,” with April 2014 up 7.8 percent over April 2013.

Chevrolet also had something to boast about, and while it sold fewer units, its percentage gain was actually higher. Its sales of 1,548 Volts was up 18.5 percent over last year’s 1,306 Volts sold.

Last month also, Nissan announced a program where by it would offer free access to a nationwide network of public chargers by which it hopes to juice new sales.

Through April, Leaf sales are up 33 percent over the same period in 2013.

“Important Leaf sales markets across the country from New York to San Diego showed strong gains in April,” said Toby Perry, Nissan’s director of EV Sales and Marketing. “While leading markets like Atlanta and San Francisco continue to drive higher Leaf sales, we’re seeing EVangelism from our LEAF owners helps draw in other new markets such as Cincinnati, which cracked into the top 25 in April.”

Volt Still Ahead

To add some perspective, the Leaf sold 9,000-some units in the U.S. both for 2011 and 2012, meaning those years were flat. Since 2013, and its beginning of Tennessee production, Nissan has had no where to go but up, and last year smashed records, totaling 22,610 for the year, and is still riding out a wave. True also, is it has had a low bar to jump over, following an underwhelming 2012, and triple-digit increases in some parameters came more easily to it last year.

As for the Volt, it sold just short of 7,700 units in 2011, then relatively smashed that with 23,461 sold in 2012 – even if the media focused on GM not meeting its initially higher sales goals.

For 2013, it was the Volt’s turn to have a flat year, with 23,094 sold.

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So the year-over-year records are all relative for two bigger fishes in a comparatively small pond when considering the U.S. bought 15.5 million passenger cars and trucks last year.

In total, Chevrolet has sold 59,706 Volts to the U.S. since its December 2010 launch, compared to 49,394 Leafs sold by Nissan and launched the same month.

The tally since their essentially side-by-side leap from the starting gate is as follows for Volt/Leaf: 2010: 326/19; 2011: 7,671/9,674; 2012: 23,461/9,819; 2013: 23,094/22,610.

For calendar year 2014, it’s: 5,154 Volts, 7,272 Leafs (not “Leaves”).

Nissan, now ahead this calendar year, is actively promoting its Leaf, while Chevrolet is verging on lame duck status with a new 2016 model being more talked about with spy photos floating around, and with GM not very committed to marketing it outside California.

As you can see, Nissan is catching up in the U.S, while leading the world, and still has a way to go. The Volt is still the top-selling U.S. plug-in car despite what plug-in fans and recent reports chronicle regarding confusion about how it operates, lack of full commitment by some salespeople, and alleged complacency by GM’s own marketers.

In all, progress is happening in the face of entrenched interests actively pulling in another direction.