Chevrolet Volt Sales Up in February; Nissan Leaf Sales Down

As the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf continue to be watched in a perceived battle for sales supremacy in the electric vehicle segment, February sales figures show the Volt gaining ground.

According to General Motors, Chevrolet delivered 1,023 Volts last month, versus 478 Leafs – a significant change from January when 676 Nissans found owners, versus 603 Volts.

Last year, General Motors originally projected Volt sales of 10,000 units but only reached 7,770 cars from its December 2010 launch, which GM executives blamed in part on a federal battery investigation now since resolved. By contrast, Nissan, which has managed to avoid as much overt negative publicity, sold almost 9,700 LEAFs during the same period.

It should be noted these two cars are not identical technologies – the Leaf is a battery electric vehicle, and the Volt is an “extended-range electric vehicle” with gasoline backup. For its part at least, GM has repeatedly said it is “not a race,” but because they were both launched as groundbreaking electrified efforts by major competitive manufacturers around the same time last year, market watchers have called it a race anyway.

And if so, perhaps it would not be a stretch to say GM took a pit stop, and has said it is now having to “relaunch” the Volt as it attempts to improve its reputation and sales following several months of highly publicized investigations regarding coolant seepage and battery fires. It has been running ad campaigns in the face of known critics, and in January it announced a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) package which enabled it to qualify for single occupancy status in California’s HOV carpool lanes. As for the battery questions, it voluntarily began equipping Volts with modified battery system packaging and battery coolant system updates, to further reduce the perceived risk of potential fires.

Although February Volt numbers represent somewhat good news for those rooting for it to succeed, they still fall short of 1,529 December deliveries, and GM is still adamant there’s much work to be done to restore the Volt’s image, as GM’s North America President Mark Reuss observed when in January he said, “it’s a tough road, but we need to do it.”

Meanwhile, the Leaf’s availability has expanded to include all 50 states, and this is expected to help boost sales. Overall, Renault-Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn has been an outspoken evangelist for electric vehicles, has predicted by 2020 they will represent 10 percent of the market pie, and this year Nissan says it would like to double last year’s Leaf sales.

GM, while expressing its long-term market outlook more conservatively, initially had set a more aggressive North American 2012 sales goal of 45,000 Volts, but has since trimmed that back, now merely saying it will match supply with demand.

It’s going to be interesting to see how these cars and new entries into the plug-in market fare over the next 12 months, and beyond.

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  • MS

    I would like to see if these cars will have bigger sales than Prius Plug-in, as the Volt is also a Plug-in.

    Prius Plug-in only started the deliveries this March, so is at least a couple months behind and the supply is not widely availble.

    WIll be interesting to see the marked acceptance of these 3 models.

  • Tinapoli

    The Prius plugin costs as much as a Volt, but has a 6 mile battery (11 miles with the engine running). If people buy them over a Volt with a 40 mile battery, it will be strictly based on the “Toyota” badge. Of course, there may also be some who prefer the slow, wallowing Prius handling to the agile, sporty Volt.

  • Shines

    Sorry Tinapoli – you are full of it. The Prius plug in costs much less than the Volt. The 11 mile range is without the engine running and when the engine runs it gets much better fuel economy than when the engine is running on the Volt. I really don’t think you need to berate the Prius – it is not really competition for the Volt – they are very different vehicles. Comparing the Leaf electric with the Volt extended range electric is a fairer comparison. Personally I don’t think the plug in Prius will do that well. I am not sure the 11 mile all electric range is worth the additional cost. In the meantime if you can afford the $40k Volt go for it. It seems to be an excellent vehicle choice.

  • priusbob

    The Prius Plug-in (PIP) is not going to be readily available for some time. The car is just been delivered to customers this week, and that was because they pre-ordered. The sales of this vehicle will probably exceed both the Volt and the Leaf for at least March and April, unless the volt and leaf can get to 2K soon…

  • schanie

    The EPA sticker on the PIP clearly says “All Electric Range = 6 miles”. The 11 miles is for the blended electric+gas mode and the rated 95MPGe says “electricity + gasoline” and it doesn’t have a pure electric rating. After rebates the basic PIP will cost about $3k less than a Volt and the higher level PIP will cost a few $k more than the Volt.

  • Seattletude

    Loving the Leaf up in the Left corner of the Union!
    Don’t see why everyone doesn’t have at least one electric car.
    We have pretty much stopped buying gas. Gets me almost everywhere I need to go and the SUV does the road trips.

    Hope the sales pick up and the battery range gets better. We can
    stop burning oil and use it for lube and records like god intended.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    Okay people. This article isn’t about the Plug-in Prius. It’s about the Volt and the Leaf. So let’s get back on track.

  • Nelson Lu

    The Prius Plug-In is, I think, clearly a competitor of both of them, so I think belongs in the discussion.

    Of course, though, the Fusion Energi — which will also be a competitor to them — should best all of them in overall efficiency, power, and passenger space. The question will be whether it will be too expensive.

  • JP White

    I agree, for every two car family, one should be electric. I’d go as far as to say 25% of all vehicles should be all electric.

    The article compares the sales of Volt vs LEAF, which is interesting for sure. However we should not view the two cars to be in competition with each other, the cars are in competition with big oil, and there is a long road before even a hint of victory can be expected.

    Whenever I meet a Volt owner, I don’t consider them adversaries but like minded friends.

  • HT3 man

    The one thing we need to remember is the Nissan Leaf is a limited- range electric car and the Volt is a hybrid that can be fueled and driven as a infinite-range automobile. The point being sales of the leaf will be restricted to those people who can afford a second car, or live in an area where they can have the Leaf as a primary car and rely on a gas-powered rental for any road trip that goes over 80 miles (re: Zip Car). The Volt and Plug-In Prius are competitors and the Leaf is not. The PIP will out sell the Volt merely because of the 10-year Prius reputation ( now in its 3-rd generation) and bogus media bias against the bailed-out GM Volt.

  • volcano

    I own a LEAF too and the only problem I have with it is the limited range. Its been nowhere near the 100 miles I was told. Nissan needs to make increasing the range a top priority!

  • volcano2

    I own a LEAF too and the only problem I have with it is the limited range. Its been nowhere near the 100 miles I was told. Nissan needs to make increasing the range a top priority!

  • JC

    But are any of them fun to drive?

    I’ve driven the Leaf, the Volt, and several Prii, and as a driving enthusiast (the main reason I don’t yet own an HEV, EV or PHEV) I have to say that the Volt is the best driving of the bunch. It has much stronger acceleration and a much tighter, sportier suspension than either of the others. Since I can’t afford a Tesla, if I had to pick one, I would definitely go with the Volt for fun-to-drive factor. The Leaf comes in second, and sadly any model of Prius doesn’t even register on a fun-meter.

    All that said, I am considering a BMW Active E, and hope to test drive one in a week or two.

    Bottom line is, somebody is going to have to make a decent, affordable sports car P/H/EV to win over real drving enthusiasts.

    As is stands now, unless you have $100K plus, hybrids and EVs are only suitable for those looking for basic transportation.

  • leafer

    The Volt is a $40,000 prototype, buy one if you want to help GM with the test data. Don’t worry GM CEO will buy it back from you if you don’t like. You don’t have to remind me it is made in America.


  • Leafer for Life

    Not sure why sports car enthusiasts are looking at Leaf, Volt or Prius, go Tesla dude, its a no brainer. Not sure BMW Active E is released yet is it?

    Tesla Model S, $5K down and $49K entry level. Do it now before they sell out. You can trade it in on your BMW Active E when they release it. However I am not sure you will want to give up the Tesla. I bought a Leaf because I couldn’t afford the Tesla. Planning to go Tesla in 3 years at the end of the Nissan Leaf Lease basically because I can’t afford the Tesla. But the real absolute limiting factor is I am certain it will take 3 years to clean out my garage so I can park in there again!

    In case it is required by the SEC, I should really disclose that in addition to the fact that I am a Tesla enthusiasts, I am also a Tesla stockholder.

  • Leaf SalesMan and Recent Buyer

    I am on the right side of the Union where the Leaf was just released. My 2012 is coming in early March. I work at Nissan dealer selling this marvel. 2012 Nissan Leaf SL is $39K -$7.5K FED rebate collected by Nissan on the 3 year lease where the Leaf is covered under bumper to bumper warranty the entire lease. If Leaf ends up a looser in 3 years, I just turn it back into to Nissan. But from what I have seen, I will be buying out the lease in 3 years. According to my calculations I will save $400/mth in the gas my 1997 F-150 is burning when I trade it in on my Leaf, so basically my new 2012 Leaf will be FREE! I will rent a truck if I ever need one again.

    Don’t worry about the home charging station Nissan wants you to buy, it can be very expensive. Just opt out and buy a Leaf without one. Nissan doesn’t care, they are in the business of selling cars not charging stations, they just want you to sign off and verify you know what you are doing. There are plenty alternative home charging solutions out there.

    I found one out there on the left corner where the Leaf has been around since 2011 link: EVSE Upgrade will convert the 110VAC level 1 charger included for free with your Leaf into to a level 1 AND level 2 charger for about $400. All you need is a 220VAC outlet installed in your garage by a local electrician or you can do it yourself like I did for about $50 in parts from Home Depot and about 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon. The same receptacle on the clothes dryer in my laundry room.

    Its not like I am related to Ben Franklin or something!
    Not sure why everyone is not doing the same thing?
    Can it be because the Volt is faster?
    Can it be that people trust the GM CEOs that are offering to buy back Volts because of the mysterious battery fires?

    GM CEOs stopped making Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, Humvee etc…. and required a 150M bailout from the US taxpayers. How long until they bail on the amazing mysteriously burst into flames Volt?

    Anyone get the feeling that GM CEOs don’t have a clue?

    I figured it out in 1977 after the third transmission went in my 1972 Pontiac and it wouldn’t pass inspection because the trans was bad an none of the power windows worked anymore. I even complained about the gas mileage then in 1977 when gas was $0.62/gallon. YES I AM F-IN OLD. Needless to say, I never purchased another GM nightmare product and sold all my GM stock.

    I now own a Nissan Leaf and Nissan stock and Tesla stock as well. I recommend all to do the same.

  • Leafer for Life

    Leaf range is compromised if you drive it like a combustion engine car. EVs are a different animal. You pay the price of performance to save the money on NOT BUYING GAS, no oil changes every 4Km, no antifreeze, no radiator, no radiator hoses, no emission inspection, no fan belts, no tune ups, no spark plug wires, no air filter, no… you get the picture yet MR I got ripped of because I don’t get 100 miles I was told???.

    Did you read any of the papers you signed when you took delivery of the Leaf??? I did!

    If you can’t manage the range issues until better batteries come, SELL IT, there is no hope for you. Unfortunately Nissan is not buying back the Leaf like GM CEO is buying back the Volt. Se if you can contact Chevy and get a discount on a Volt GM bought back from its previous owner.

    Nissan clearly discloses all range related issue clearly in all the documentation and literature you were supposed to read before, during and after the sale. The 100 mile range is an estimate based upon several factors including the use of the heater/AC, driving style, terrain and braking. I don’t get 100 miles on the highway doing 60mph either, but I get more than 150 miles in the city when in ECO mode and my heater is off.

    You do know about the ECO mode don’t you?


    In case it is all the way out in the driveway in the glove box, I’ll save you the trip….

  • Don’t listen to other’s opinions, what works for you!

    I could care less what anybody else thinks, I do all my own research. You know what they say about opinions and a-holes, everyone has one. I test drove the following in preparation for my purchase:

    1. Nissan Leaf
    2. Toyota Prius
    3. Chevy Volt
    4. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
    5. Honda Civic Hybrid

    They all are good cars, no doubt. The Volt concerns me because it is a GM. I don’t have much faith in anything GM. I don’t care how fast or pretty it is. I was eliminated from consideration when the NHSTA uncovered the Volt battery fire issue and no one was able to explain why this fire occurred 3 weeks after crash testing was finished! Then GM CEO said he would buy Volts back from owners worried about the fires? I never heard any CEO offer to buy back anything from anyone, especially a car!! I am not looking to sell my car back to the manufacturer, I would rather keep it as long as I can. If you are still considering a Volt, buy a fire suit, fire extinguisher and make sure you get ONSTAR and hit the button and try to ask for help while you are rolling on the ground putting the flames out.

    The best of 5 I drove was actually the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, a really nice car. I was really impressed with the 10 year- 100,000 mile drive train warranty! Something I think is important for a Hybrid vehicle and true cost of ownership analysis. No engine repairs for 10yrs/100K is a big benefit even if it is only a Hyundai insurance policy.

    To keep if short like bloggers should, I decided on the Leaf because I was looking to cut off my dependance and maintenance costs related to the combustion engine cars I have owned all my life. I am done with the entire gas-engine thing. If you do a true cost of ownership analysis, you will quickly see that any combustion engine design requires at least an oil change every 4Kmiles in order to keep the manufacturer’s engine warranty alive. Not to mention all the other combustion engine maintenance requirements required for longevity and inspection.

    The Nissan Leaf maintenance book does not have many pages because in comparison the combustion engines, it has literally no maintenance requirements. After 15,000 miles, you need to change the Leaf’s brake fluid and cabin air filter. You also need to check the tires and brakes but that is a wash because you have to do that in a combustion engine car too. After 15,000 miles you would have done about 4-5 oil changes on its combustion counterpart.

    If I need to drive farther than the Leaf range will allow, and until there are more charging stations on the east coast, I will gladly rent a regular car for vacation once or twice a year and still save big in the long run. But please don’t take my word for it, do the calculations for your self. Be honest and thorough and don’t give any option the benefit of the doubt. If you did your ‘homework’ and open your mind to some ideas like renting a car for the long drives, I think you will arrive at the same conclusion I did. Buy a Leaf with a 5 star crash test rating.

  • Volt rebate stolen buy Chevy Dealers??

    I bailed on a Volt buy when the Chevy dealer I was buying from told me the $7,500 FED rebate went to the dealer only and not me! I checked with this accountant guy I know and he said Chevy does get the rebate if I lease but not when I buy. I told the dealer I was buying and the dealer said I still don’t get the rebate on a buy! WTF? I didn’t buy the Volt because the accountant guy I know said not to. So the Volt is now out of the question, just seems like I need an accountant and maybe a lawyer to buy the Volt, thanks but I’ll pass. Then I saw these 2 articles confirming what is going on…

    I am so disappointed in the US automakers and actually feel sorry for US autoworkers busting their buts to make a better car and then dealers pull this crap on me. I am really not sure what I am going to do next. Driving my 2004 Camry with 125Kmiles that I felt guilty buying in 2004 because it was not US made. Probably going Japanese again, I hate the Prius and have not checked out the Leaf again. I am just tired of paying almost $5/gallon for gas!! I just don’t make that much money that I can buy a $40K car!

  • alex777

    “A 2009 Carnegie Mellon University study found that a PHEV-40 will be less cost effective than a HEV or a PHEV-7 in all of the scenarios considered, due to the cost and weight of the battery.[189] Jon Lauckner, a Vice President at General Motors, responded that the study did not consider the inconvenience of a 7 miles (11 km) electric range and that the study’s cost estimate of US$1,000 per kWh for the Volt’s battery pack was “many hundreds of dollars per kilowatt hour higher” than what it costs to make today.” :)) May be 700-800$ now!
    Take a look on Prius Plug-in (PHEV-11) and Volt (PHEV40). Who is better balanced?

  • vbasic

    And yet, each company only sells about 1,000 units a month. It’s almost pathetic considering $100 oil and all the enthusiasm and hype for such products. I think it’s sticker shock, range and car size. So until battery prices decrease and battery technology improves, those numbers will continue. No thank you to Nissan stock.

  • Unsatisfied Volt Owner

    Hey Mr. “Volt rebate stolen” I was told the same thing about the Volt I purchased, I didn’t think to check into it since I bought it from the sales guy I have been using for years! So what you are saying is, I should have received the $7,500 fed rebate that basically comes out of my federal taxes I pay but my Chevy dealer took it instead??

    WOW, if I find any of this is true, I will be visiting my dealership 1st thing Monday morning and will be filing a law suite for the refund and the cost of attorney to get the Volt rebate I was supposed to get.

    Holy crap, I can’t believe my sales guy let this happen to me! Someone else in this thread said something about GM buying back Volts, I will certainly be looking into that if I don’t get my $7,500 back! How sleazy can you get! From what I know about the Japanese culture, integrity and work ethic, I am pretty sure this wouldn’t have happened if I bought a car from them, but you never know. I will check back into this thread when I found out more. I already left 3 messages for my sales guy since I have his cell number. I don’t care if it is Sunday, I am awaiting eagerly for his call back.

  • TO vbasic

    In my view the # of units sold doesn’t mean anything to anybody! The only thing it means to me is that you are trusting that the rest of the population that is not buying the cars knows more than everybody else, even if sticker shock is the reason!

    The American public is addicted to oil. The oil companies know that and they want everybody to keep buying gas cars to keep selling gas. It is simple as that. I think the short attention span of the US buyer is the problem that is limiting the sale of any new technology because US public is too accustomed to having NOT to worry about range in a combustion engine car. You just sop and get gas anywhere when you need it, you don’t even think about it and you get frightened at the mere thought of that going away. The oil companies have spent a very long time to get things this way and they want to keep it that way. They control everything including the cost of gas and oil you need to keep doing what you have become accustomed to.

    If anyone does a true analysis of what it costs them in gas, gas engine maintenance, extended warranties, vehicle depreciation etc… You would see that it is in your own financial interest to extend the vigilance you hopefully have to get an oil change every 4Kmiles into vigilance to keep an eye on your range and nearby charging facilities. It is no surprise that charging facilities may not always be at the same place you buy gas, think about why that would be true.

    The question is, EV or NO EV, that is it. Either embrace the ALL electric option or not! If you select a Hybrid you are basically staying with the combustion engine model. If you are not comfortable with all EV no gas solution, then wait as long as you need to feel good about buying an all EV. With the advances in large format battery technologies you shouldn’t have to wait very long.

    I personally would not bash Nissan for releasing the Leaf. It may not be perfect but it was a bold step forward that I don’t expect to see from any US manufacturer in the near future. US Auto CEOs are watching the success of the Leaf very carefully and will certainly jump into the game if it becomes popular. That is called playing it safe. Nissan is the one taking the risk for the consumer, that would be you and me.

    I personally checked into the Leaf battery pack to see what it would cost to replace just 1 of the 42 battery packs inside. I was surprised to hear that the Nissan dealer was able to find the battery pack part number but couldn’t find the price of it !! After further investigation (i.e. call to Japan) it turns out, Nissan does not list the price of the module because they know the battery technology is advancing so quickly they are already working on a new battery pack that is much better that the existing ones and will certainly cost lees, they just don’t know what it will cost yet. They could just charge me the customer what the old ones cost and then make more on the new battery pack available at a reduced cost right? They decided not to do that and intend to place a value on the battery pack that reflects its actual cost. I was amazed to hear that answer in broken English and a bad phone connection from Japan. As far as I am concerned that same decision would not have been made by any US CEO. That is when I bought Nissan stock and a 2012 Leaf SL.

    I am a Senior Systems Engineer with a PHD and have over 25 years of experience designing advanced systems for the DOD. I was a dual major in college, one of the only graduates with a psychology degree and an engineering degree. You could say I have a very unique perspective on the entire matter.

    From my perspective, the design of the Leaf is a culmination of decisions like the battery one I mentioned above. The Leaf design is consistent and well thought out and contains a large array of design features that are not immediately apparent when just looking at the sticker price and sales figures. It is frustrating to read that people are actually considering the vehicle’s popularity as a factor in their decision without even driving the car!

    The battery longevity and range are not an issue for me because the Leaf battery warranty is 96mth/100Kmiles, range varies based on many factors. Nissan tells you that in all literature that the battery performance will degrade with time, I expected it to, a gas engine’s performance degrades with time too, why would I expect anything more or less from a electric car? In 8 years time I expect to able to buy Leaf replacement battery packs at PEP boys and install them myself!

    I buy cars because I have to, I need to go to point A to point B as cheaply as possible. I don’t care what that cars even looks like! I will take a bus if I need to, I don’t care what the bus looks like do you?

    Everyone defending anything but all electric vehicles needs to look at it from a completely different perspective in which convenience is not the ultimate goal. Conservation of energy and the environment, reducing the foreign dependance on oil and lowest cost of ownership in my view far out weigh convenience. If you are not able to deal with the current EV only offerings on the market (Nissan Leaf or the Mitsubishi i-MiEV) I predict you won’t have to wait too long before other options are available. In the mean time, just continue to do what you are doing now, pay dearly for the convenience afforded to you by any gas engine vehicle.

    This is America right? You can do what ever you want and have any opinion you want. The fact is that all of us in America are addicted to oil and as a result have actually become fearful and almost panic when we think of giving it up! This is extremely similar behavior that is common in any methadone clinic or rehab facility. One will refuse to even consider anything else that would help us to end the dependance on drugs, alcohol or oil because we just can’t even see past our next fix.

    We all need an intervention and a 12 step program when it comes to oil consumption. As far as I am concerned, someone needs to step in and drag us all to rehab. Nissan opened my eyes without doing anything but design and release the Leaf.

  • Obvious

    Let me see, give up 50 weeks of not paying for gas in order to have 2 weeks of range and convenience so I can go on vacation with the same car I use to commute with everyday. Hmmm, I really don’t have think too long about that one.

  • T.G.

    I guess the range depends on how and where you drive your leaf. We have a Leaf and live in Northern CA. On Freeway, driving at 65 mph for a long distance, I would probably not get more than 70 miles. In town, it’s totally different. We haven’t really pushed it but I easily get over 70 miles and still have 45 miles left, if driven under the same conditions. Cold weather changes everything dramatically. I read a Swedish paper, where the journalist drove the car at -20 C and when he started the heater, he wouldn’t get more than 50 miles.

    All that said, our next car will certainly be electric but we are waiting for something that gets around 200 miles but is not as expensive as Tesla’s sedan (over $60k). I am hoping we won’t need to wait for this car more than 2-3 years.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    To the dissatisfied Volt owners and prospective buyers of Volts.

    Just go buy a Prius or any other conventional hybrid vehicle. It would seem to be the better choice.

  • AP

    T.G., your point about electric range in cold weather is a good one. Not everybody lives in sunny California.

    “don’t listen to…”, you are exaggerating the cost of maintaining gasoline engines, as is often done on this website. It is not required to change oil every 4,000 miles, more like 8,000 or so. This cost pales in comparison to the eventual cost of a large battery. We could argue about the relative costs of different vehicle types, but exaggerating certain factors reduces your credibility.

    Personally I think it’s hard to beat a compact car with a 1.4 liter turbocharged engine and a manual transmission, like a Cruze Eco. If Toyota put a powertrain like that in a Prius, with the low air drag and weight, it would be difficult to justify buying the hybrid version. That’s why you’ll never see it.

  • dutchinchicago

    The Volt has the highest owner satisfaction of any US car so there are not that many dissatisfied Volt drivers out there.

  • alex777

    ”Worst Product Flops of 2011” Go on GM! “The Volt has the highest owner satisfaction of any US car”!! :)) Who is fool?
    Prius C (Aqua) it’s the same (almost 5) 4-seater car for a half cheaper with 5346 mpg!He will soon be here…….. IMHO it’s look like comparison BMW X6 hybrid and RX 450H! Who will buy BMW for price for two RX? Where is X6 now?