The Chevrolet Volt sold 30,090 units in 2012, enough to dethrone the 2011 plug-in and electric global sales leader Nissan Leaf, which sold 25,435 units last year. The Toyota Prius Plug-in also emerged ahead of the all-electric Leaf, finishing second with 27,181 sales.
Though the Leaf fell short of its rivals last year, the model became the first car in its category to achieve 50,000 cumulative sales this past January. In Detroit, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said he expects Leaf sales to again grow this year, though sales in 2012 were less than half the car’s original projections. The Volt, on the other hand, more than tripled its sales from 2011, while the Prius PHEV sold nearly as many as its plug-in rival in its first year on sale.
Total EV and plug-in sales more than doubled last year’s total, and the report predicts an increase of 89 percent to 225,000 units this year. That number is still only about one-third the demand automakers previously expected. In 2012, the U.S. led global electric vehicle and plug-in sales at 46 percent, while Japan and Europe tied for second place at 23 percent. The only EV market to shrink last year was China.
So far in 2013, the Leaf has sold 1303 units, less than half of the Volt’s 2766 year-to-date sales. The 2013 Nissan Leaf receives a price cut, thanks in part to production shifting from Japan to the U.S., and also gets increased range. When that model goes on sale, the tables may turn again. However, with GM CEO promising earlier this month to build an EV with range as high as 200 miles, and announcing that the automaker is targeting half a million electrified vehicles on the road by 2017, you can bet the battle for plug-in and EV sales will continue.