Volt Top Selling Plug-in; Leaf Shatters Own Records; Tesla Takes Third Place

The Chevrolet Volt, while slightly down in sales compared to 2012, narrowly finished 2013 as the best-selling plug-in electrified car with 23,094 units delivered compared to the Nissan Leaf’s 22,610 units, but this year was otherwise Nissan and Tesla’s year to shine.

Numbers for Tesla are estimated as it declines to report monthly sales as per standard automaker practice, but it likely sold in the middle-upper 18,000 unit range for the year – quite strong considering the luxury car costs 2-3 times more than a Leaf or Volt.

As of November, Tesla had delivered an estimated 16,950, and it did not likely deliver more than 2,000 this month given Tesla’s overseas focus at the moment.

Even if Tesla well-exceeded this estimate, it would need over 5,660 sales in December to place it second among plug-in electrified cars, so we are confident saying it’s third place overall. The next-highest seller, the Toyota Prius PHEV, is much further behind with 11,169 as of November.

Meanwhile, Nissan proudly announced its official numbers are in.

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On the third-year anniversary month of the Nissan Leaf’s launch, the automaker reported its best-ever sales of 2,529 units.

Launched at the end of December 2010 with just 19 units sold that month, last month’s 2,529 units also exceeds November 2013’s 1,920 units sold, and it beats its previous best month in September 2013 when Nissan sold 2,420 Leafs.

All this year the now-U.S.-assembled and price-reduced Leaf has significantly surpassed correlated months from last year, and December 2013’s record beat December 2012 by 70 percent.

By contrast, the also price-reduced, and since-its-inception-U.S.-made Chevrolet Volt’s 2,392 units was down 9.2 percent from 2,633 in December 2012.

The Volt’s calendar year sales for all of 2013 at 23,094 units compares to 23,461 in 2012, representing a 1.6 percent decline.

The Leaf’s Total 2013 calendar year sales are 22,610, more than doubling last year’s 9,819 sold for all of 2012.

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So while the Volt is the top-selling plug-in car for 2013 it’s doing so on the relative way down, or just going sideways, whereas positive growth is far more remarkable for Tesla and Nissan – a point Nissan commented upon.

“The 2013 model launched in March accelerated sales and drove 10 straight months of record sales. In 2013 we crossed the 40,000 sales threshold, saw a LEAF driver’s odometer hit the 100,000 mile mark, and now have a new best-ever sales month in December,” said Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of EV sales and marketing. “As we gear up to roll out the 2014 Leaf, we look forward to continued growth in new-wave markets and deeper penetration on the west coast strongholds as the ever-growing Leaf owner base continues to evangelize the product to friends and neighbors.”

Nissan says Atlanta remains its number-one market for the fifth straight month, “and sales are expanding deeper into Georgia markets such as Macon and Columbus.”

The Leaf is also noted as the top-selling Nissan model in Atlanta, Seattle and San Francisco, as well as ranking within the top-three Nissan models in Honolulu and Portland.