Nissan Leaf March Sales Are its Best-Ever

March sales numbers for all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars are not all in yet, but it appears the Nissan Leaf’s 2,236 units sold tops them all letting it also finish third for this year’s first quarter.

The Tesla Model S took second for March with an estimated 1,950 – and it also placed number one in sales for the first quarter. The Chevy Volt finished March a distant third with 1,478, and placed second for Q1.

According to Travis Parman, director, Corporate Communications for Nissan Americas, the Leaf’s 2,236 units sold in the U.S. was the best it has done since launching December 2010. In a brief phone interview, Parman credited U.S. production and a major price slash for the robust sales performance.

In the first couple months of 2013, Parman noted Leaf inventory was constrained, accounting for lower sales numbers of 650 in January and 653 in February.

With the supply pipeline now open, Nissan solidly trounced the Chevy Volt which finished March with 1,478 sold – down from 1,626 in February which had been enough to place it in the top spot among plug-in cars.

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We do not have numbers in yet for the another contender in the plug-in market, Ford’s C-MAX Energi. Total C-MAX sales including the regular hybrid version were 3,769, so we are guessing somewhere around 500 of the plug-in Energi were sold, and will probably know the actual number tomorrow.

Since its launch around the same time as the Leaf, the Chevy Volt has more often than not beaten the Leaf in sales, particularly during 2012. Industry observers have noted GM now has a gauntlet thrown down against it by the reduced sticker price for the Leaf.

Questions remain if GM will look to reduce its pricing. Already the Volt is discounted by various dealers, depending on the market, but the corporate-level price reduction by Nissan has begun to show its effect.

Tesla #1 For Quarter

And all this said, perhaps the most impressive momentary star is the Tesla Model S.

The electric car placed second behind the Volt’s sales in January and February, and was in the running for top spot in March, but Nissan quashed that possibility.

Nonetheless, the Model S costs a good two-to-three times more than the Japanese family EV and is from a relatively new and definitely maverick U.S. automaker.

What’s more, its sales tallied for January through March of 4,750-plus place it as the top-selling plug-in for Q1. The Volt’s numbers add to 4,244 and the Leaf’s add to 3,539.

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To place so well in this nascent plug-in market is a notable accomplishment. Tesla’s actual sales numbers are an approximation, as Tesla does not divulge its month-over-month sales.

If ever it had bragging rights that could prompt it to open up with more disclosure, that time is now. Tesla is at its peak production capacity however, so whether it can sustain the top-ranked numbers against lower priced offerings from more established makers is in doubt. So far the spotlight is still shining brightly on Tesla’s sales performance.

And as for Nissan, with the price now lower and U.S. manufacturing opened up, its potential to run higher has certainly increased.