Nissan Leaf Sales Outpace Chevrolet Volt in First Half of 2011

In the race to sell electric vehicles to the American public, Nissan so far appears to be outpacing Chevrolet. For the first six months of 2011, Nissan sold 3875 Leaf electric cars, while Chevrolet sold just 2745 Volt extended-range electric vehicles.

Although the Volt appears to be lagging behind the Leaf, Chevrolet Volt spokesman Rob Peterson said the disparity is only temporary. The plant that assembles the Volt has been offline for the past five weeks while it is upgraded for more capacity. Once the factory resumes vehicle production later this month, Peterson said Volts will be built and sold at three times the previous pace. Chevrolet is still on track to sell 10,000 Volts through the end of 2011.

“We’re fairly comfortable right now,” Peterson said. “It’s tough not to be comfortable when you’re selling every vehicle you make.”

Peterson said he does not see the Nissan Leaf as a direct competitor to the Volt. Although both are powered at least in part by electricity, Peterson says GM “believes the Volt is a much more practical approach.”

Nissan was understandably pleased with the sales results. Deliveries of the Nissan Leaf to customers were significantly delayed by Japan’s March 11 natural disaster, which slowed production and shipment of the electric car to the U.S. Now, however, Nissan spokesperson Katherine Zachary said both deliveries and customer reservations for the Leaf are increasing. She said that increased public awareness of the Nissan Leaf is building customer interest.

“When your neighbor is driving [an electric car], when your friend is driving one, that just stimulates the demand,” Zachary said.

Nissan initially took orders for up to 20,000 Leafs in the U.S. this year; the company is not releasing its sales target for 2011. Some reports suggest Nissan will deliver 10,000 to 12,000 Leafs to customers this year.

As production and sales ramp up, Nissan and Chevrolet will continue gunning for the hard-earned dollars of electric-car enthusiasts. Check back six months from now to see which vehicle records the most sales for all of 2011.

Sources: Chevrolet, Nissan

The Volt is an amazing car. The leaf is great as well. I drive less than 40 miles probably 95 percent of the days in a year, so I would need no gas. And I only have the space for one car so I couldn't own a leaf unless I wanted to rent a car every time I needed to drive 100 miles. I'm tired of buying gasoline so often but I realize for longer trips it's still necessary. I'll buy a Volt as soon as I can get one used.
You are worried about something the will never happen. 3875 cars sold in 6 months. These cars are a complete business failure but, a complete PR success.
George Parrott
Both the Volt and the Leaf have their own best case functionality. For some of us, they complement each other, and are a great solution for the "two career, two commuter" family. After almost 10,000 miles total across both cars, we find the Volt to be much more sorted out than the Leaf, and the Leaf's wildly optimistic daily range projections after full charging just delusional. GM has been most reponsive for little niggles with the Volt, and Nissan has been totally unable to get their range algorithm adjusted to even the same "city and ballpark accuracy" seems light years beyond Nissan's technicians. Both cars are essentially "sold out" for this year (2011) and the Volt is being dis-served by many Chevy dealers with significant dealer markups, way, way above MSRP, being demanded. This is, for any reporter with even a small degree of thoughtfulness, not a sales race, but a production "race," and clearly Nissan has gotten their production line moving faster than GM. As the Consumer Reports article notes, we have both cars, and I can confirm that we are more impressed with the Volt than the Leaf. I think the Leaf is a solid "first effort," but for drivers wanting to migrate to an all-electric car going into 2012 production, I would recommend a close look at the Mitsubishi "i" as potentially a better "value" and still totally functional alternative to the Leaf (and the Ford Focus electric, but we do not yet know how much that will cost).
And lookie there, I seem to be wrong about the gas motor not engaging the wheels at low speeds:
Jared A G.M. spokesman, Tom Wilkinson, said, “There is some mechanical drive force at high speed. The engineers wanted to maximize the overall performance and eliminate any potential flat spots in the acceleration curve.” When asked why G.M. didn’t mention this high-speed gas-engine assist previously, Doug Parks, a global electric vehicle executive for G.M., said that the automaker chose not to publicize this feature to protect the technology during the process of obtaining patents.
@Chris Thats not quite true either. GM acknowledged that in speeds above 70mph and certain other rare instances the gas engine will kick in and assist the electric motor with powering through its newly patented planetary gearing setup. That was done to provide better efficiencies because the gas engine is better than its electric at high speeds. The other times the gas motor only operates as a generator to charge the battery.
Will M, that's not quite true about the electric motor being the only method for powering the wheels in the Volt. GM acknowledged earlier this year that the gasoline engine will power the wheels directly when the battery reaches a certain level of charge...maybe 20%? I don't have a link to share, but they did get dinged by some folks for not acknowledging this.
Will M
@Clark and @HolmiumST The volt is not a hybrid like the Prius. The Prius will use gas no matter what, it just uses electricity to boost its performance. The Volt is an electric car for people who can't afford two cars. In reality, it is two cars in one. One car, the electric side, exclusively powers the vehicle for the first 25-50 miles (depending on how you drive. My experience puts it at about 38) The other is a highly efficient "gas powered" car (in quotations because, unlike the Prius, the Volt is still only being propelled by the electric motor) That will get 35mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway. Put the electric range and the gas range together and you get 400 miles on a full charge and full tank! Enough to go see Grandma! So basically, for everyday driving, the Volt is a (imo better looking) leaf while still being able to make that occasional long haul. So to compare the volt to the leaf is awkward because the leaf is missing the long range capabilities. To compare it to the Prius is awkward because Prius will need gas no matter what. The volt is a happy medium until there are abundant fast charge stations and battery technology advances
I will be interested to see how "enviro-friendly" these electric cars are considered in a few years when our electrical infrastructure is overwhelmed and leaf owners have to live through rolling brown outs. I also wonder who will pay the lawsuits when leaf owners freeze to death on the freeway because at 0 deg F, with the heater on a leaf's charge will last about 16 minutes (as reported by Consumer Reports).
I have yet to see either a Leaf or Volt on the streets in the Twin Cities...
Why are we even comparing the car of the future with a half-ass overpriced Prius fighter ?
Clark B
Interesting numbers. And I agree that Volt and Leaf are for different markets. As a Leaf owner, I was not looknig for another hybrid, like the Volt. I dont want to burn any gas at all, and get out of the Middle-East oil supporting dictators and screwing US consumers racket. So the Leaf was a mucvh better choice than the Volt. And I communite 54 miles a day, and have a second car- things that make life perfect for a Leaf owner. So happy, I LOVE the Leaf experience after 2 months with it!!

New Car Research

Find reviews, photos & pricing for:

Chevrolet Volt

Nissan Leaf

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles