April Chevy Volt Sales Decent, Nissan Leaf's Not So Much

With April sales numbers in, GM reported 1,462 Chevrolet Volts spld in a month with three fewer selling days, and given that April is traditionally a weaker month than March.

This total is down from the Volt’s second-highest sales figures in December, in which 1,529 were sold, and down also from the March record of 2,289.

Last month we had heard some from GM say they were not expecting April Volt sales to exceed March, although CEO Dan Akerson has been quoted as saying he’d like to see somewhere between 2,000-3,000 month after month going forward.

Some industry watchers have said also that GM’s California Volts are still in a transition period of changing over to solo-HOV-lane eligible Electric Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle (eAT-PZEV) versions, and this could have put a crimp in the progress.

But if GM sold fewer than some hoped for, Nissan could be said to be looking worse, with just 370 battery electric Leafs sold in April. This is down from 579 units in March and 478 in February. In fact 370 is lower than the 573 Leafs Nissan delivered in April 2011. The Leaf’s best sales month was June, 2011 with 1,708 sold.

Nonetheless, ever-optimistic Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said industry watchers should not let a few mediocre months influence their perspective. He is keeping a long-term view, unwaveringly saying BEVS will comprise 10 percent of the market by decade’s end.

Things ought to pick up also, he has said, as Nissan begins building the Leaf in Tennessee in late 2012, and the UK in early 2013.

As for the Volt, it was not a bad month – particularly if one chose to add in the Opel Ampera sister car being built alongside for European export.

Further numbers of interest are that for the 2012 calendar year to date, the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant has built 5,095 Volts and 3,382 Opel Amperas.

For 2012 model year to date, it has so far turned out 16,336 Volts and 5,987 Amperas.

European Ampera sales reported for April were 557 total units.

If one wanted to observe the Ampera sister car as part of the yet-limited production output for GM’s still-quite-new Voltec line, total April sales worldwide would be 2,019 units.

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  • Libertarian Don

    Even though the Volt is really cool technology, big battery cars will be limited in market appeal because of their cost even with the large government kickback. I’m glad rich and devoted folk are purchasing them as eventually the costs will come down. Whe I bought my Fit in 2007 for 17K and Prius started at 24K and require 200K+ miles to breakeven at ~$2/gal. If I was making the same decision today with the Prius C at 21K, gas at $3.70/gal, and the new Fit at 19k only getting 33 highway rather than 38 I’d get the Prius C.

    Battery costs, durability, and capacity need improvements if we are to move away from the oil economy. I have hope that the days of easy money for the societies and regimes that hate us are numbered by such a battery. Then I can charge up my car with clean domestic electricity from my local Ohio coal fired plant.

  • perfectapproach

    The Leaf is ugly. That is enough for me to rule it out, regardless of the powertrain.

  • perfectapproach

    “…clean domestic electricity from my local Ohio coal fired plant….”

    a clean, coal-fired plant… Hmmm….

  • bill

    great point,,, but the electricity grid is getting cleaner all the time as well

    in some states solar has already reached parity with regular electric prices – and that was not expected to happen for another decade… and thats without subsidies

    if batteries follow the same trajectory, in five or perhaps ten years at most, you will be able to charge your cheap battery powered car from cheap solar panels essntially for free….

    good bye opec!

  • Max Reid


    Prius Plugin sold 1,654 units in April-2011 and it gets the Top spot among Plugins / EVs.

  • Max Reid

    Only 42% of Electricity came from Coal in US last year. Natgas and Wind are surging.

  • MS

    Is Opel Ampera being sold in the US?

    From what I read it seems that’s true. I like a little more the Ampera design.

  • owlafaye

    VOLTs will certainly not be very collectible when they stop production. Expect massive repair costs as this highly complex vehicle ages.

    The Cadillac, with a larger VOLT powertrain, will be profitable for GM although it is estimated it will only take 186 years to get their investment back.

  • Jenn1mm

    I am not rich, but I am devoted. I do not choose to look at it as a break even point financially. The reason for that is that it has as much to do with the environmental impact as it does with cost savings. I believe that if gasoline prices included a surcharge for the military costs associated with securing access to foreign oil and a surcharge to cover the devastating effects of our pollution will have on this planet in my lifetime and in the lifetime of my children, then the costs of electric cars, and the renewable energy sources to power them would be considered a bargain. I would love nothing more than to go to the gas pump and pay a $0.25/gallon surcharge to pay medical benefits for wounded soldiers and to pay for survivor benefits for the families of those who didn’t survive to receive medical benefits. I am offended that I drive on the same roads with people who choose to buy enormous vehicles and then complain about the high cost of gas.

  • Ray Laracuenta

    Ampera is a better looking car period. Make that the WW car design, give it a solid 75 mile range on the battery and I will buy it.

    30-40 miles at best is not enough.

    They also need to fix the back seat and make it a quasi 5 seater.

  • markwbrooks

    There it is again, the idea that the volt runs on coal… gee I wonder from which major Asian car company you picked up this bit of misinformation?

    The idea that the volt is coal powered and your normal car isn’t is simply incorrect, the reality is actually the reverse.

    For the record, it takes between 7kwh and 12kwh of energy (including coal fired electricity) and the burning of other nasty petroleum waste products to refine an average gallon of gas.

    That means that the Volt can go further on the energy used to refine a gallon of gas than most cars can on the gas.

    Then there is the issue of drilling, transporting, storage of both crude and refined product.

    The idea that the volt creates more pollution by running on coal was actually started by a report commissioned by Toyota to help their Prius sales team. It was a tanks to wheels only study and did not look at the whole emissions lifecycle.

  • usbseawolf2000

    @markwbrooks: According to US Energy Information Administration, “About 2/3 of the energy used to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity is “lost” at power plants and in power lines.” Take note of that.


    As for petroleum to gasoline, 15% is “lost” from drilling, refining and transporting.

    Vehicle efficiency (which EPA measures) is superior for EVs but gasoline is superior in fuel production efficiency. That makes gas-electric the best bang for the buck to reduce greenhouse gas and carbon footprint.

    Electricity is best used for city driving while gasoline is best for highway. Prius PHV was designed with exactly that in mind. In the city, you won’t go fast nor far. 13 EV miles from a small PHV battery that doesn’t hurt gas mileage or intrude the interior space.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    I have been trying to get my Volt for about month now. Still no luck.

    In California, Volt is selling. But GM’s poor planning hasn’t kept up with it.

  • Charlie Peters

    Bill Clinton, Al Gore & Senator Obama supported Prop. 87, a GMO corn ethanol welfare program.

    Bill, Al have changed opinion on the ethanol mandate, I wonder if Obama will make this the time for CHANGE?

    I support a waiver of the ethanol mandate, voluntary use of ethanol in my gas.

    Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit.

    It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result that may be ready for change.

    We do NOT support AB 523 or SB 1396 unless the ethanol mandate is changed to voluntary ethanol in our gas.

    Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time.

    The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree.

    AB 523 & SB 1326 are just a short put (waiver) from better results.

    GOOGLE: Prop 87 (510) 537-1796

  • Carol

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  • Debra

    I’m not sure what you were trying to say considering you were responding to markwbrooks. The miles per kwh an EV obtains is usually calculated at the meter of the house charging unit. This would already take into account any transmission losses etc. The electricity that it takes to make the gallon of gas would also have the same “losses” of the generating fuel. The EV will already have been able to drive the miles that it takes to just make the gallon of gas needed for the ICE. Then the ice owner gets to actually purchase the “other” costs of obtaining the gallon of gas and worse it then gets to pollute from the actual burning of it.

    Other issues: Grid overload? More power plants needed? Pretty much a wash. For each gallon equivalent moved to EV, the electrical generation needed will offset the lack of generation needed to make the gallon of gasoline. Fortunately almost all charging of EV is done at night putting no strain on peak use. BTW a lot of the 2/3 loss figure is generated from the huge losses at night from the base-load generators. EV’s should be able to replace some of this night-time dump load and put it to good use.

    I’m surprised we can’t put a $$ figure on the issue of how much wealth the USA has been diverting each year to the oil producing nations. I believe a few years ago it was over $700 billion a year that we send out in cash to buy a consumable. This is not sustainable without serious loss in our standard of living, even if we were able to accomplish it without war. I would much prefer this $700 billion to go to US coal/nuclear/hydro/solar companies. Wouldn’t you?

    BTW we did install solar on our own roof and are on track to have it paid back in under 5 years. We are in an expensive electricity area (So Calif). This will even be shorter with the addition of an EV and taking advantage of Time of Use rates.

    Back to EVs:
    I’m not sure that the current gov incentives are the best way to help, but if we waited until the price of oil makes it financially (free market) viable we would be way too late to keep our economy solvent. Personally I wish the incentive money went more into battery technology improvements as the cost/efficiency of the battery system seems to be the only drawback to making EV economically viable.

  • markw

    $2 a gallon… your kidding right? So where are you planning to buy gas at 50% below cost?

    and the Most traded in car for the volt is: The Prius!

    Not kidding, no doubt by the same folks that planned on $2 gas and didnt read the fine print that stated the prius milegage degrades in realwork conditions ( ie: heavy traffic / rain / snow/ a five year old engine that needs new rings, plugs and an oil change, etc). You know, all those real world challenges that electric cars dont have to worry about…

  • markw

    Maybe true, but not important as the refinery is drawing that same power from the same grid…

    What is true is that most EVs are charging at night during off hours when a lot of the power wastage happens due to lack of grid load. Bottomline EVs will improve grid efficency and cut grid waste by providing a relaible night time load.

    Its a double win!

  • mike hunt

    Hey dummy. Your coal fired electric plant has to burn more coal to generate the electricity to refine the oil into gas and diesel, then it does to charge an electric car.

    You electric car hating folks seem to forget that gasolene doesn’t just happen. Tremendous amounts of electricity are required to get the crude out of the ground, and in the case of tarsand oil, to strip it from the bitimen, then to keep it warm in the pipeline between the oil fields, (or ports) and the refinery, an then the electricity needed to run the refinery, and finially the gas pumps at the gas station, never mind all the oil burned to transport said crude around the world in tankers, and gto truck it to the stations.
    All said gasolene production uses more electricity to produce than electric cars will ever use, and if that electricity is generated by burning coal, then the polution created burning coal is greater to produce gas and diesel than to charge electric cars.

    Understand now. Did I make it simple enough for you to understand?