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