Ryan Reynolds Nissan's latest Leaf SpokespersonEnlarge Photo
It's the first of the month again, and that means: It's sales report time!
Last month, Chevrolet sold 1,139 Volts and Nissan sold 672 Leafs.
The November numbers bring totals for 2011, with only December left, to 8,720 Leafs delivered (plus 18 last December) and 6,142 Volts (plus 326 last December).
Those two models represent by far the bulk of the plug-in electric cars sold in the U.S. over the past 12 months, together totaling more than 15,000 sales.
The two cars have swapped the sales lead, with Volt sales plummeting during changeover from 2011 to 2012 production in July and August, and Leaf sales suffering from the same effect in October and November.
Volt sales surging, but...
Last month, the Chevy Volt outsold the Nissan Leaf for the first time since March. That trend continued in November, with almost 1.7 Volts sold for every Leaf.
But plug-in buyers have still purchased roughly one third more Leafs than Volts over the last 12 month. Chevrolet has almost completed its national rollout of the Volt to selected dealers, while Nissan will add several further regions early next year.
Waiting lists remain for both cars in at least some regions.
2012 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
While Chevrolet has said consistently that during 2011, it will build 10,000 Volts to be sold at retail, the actual sales numbers now seem likely to lag that total. This will likely bring a further flood of "Volt is a failure" articles, many of which miss the greater context in which plug-in cars have gone on sale.
(Those plug-in cars also bring customers into dealerships, which ends up selling a bunch of gasoline cars too.)
On Monday, GM North America president Mark Reuss said GM had built 11,448 Volts in total, with sales at the end of October of 5,003 plus 326 in December 2010, the first month in which a Volt was delivered to a retail buyer.
Reuss said there were exactly 3,086 Volts in dealer stock on Monday, leaving roughly 2,800 dealer demonstration cars plus a few hundred that are likely owned by GM [NYSE:GM] or otherwise unavailable.
Other makers: We're not saying
As for the other makers selling plug-in cars this year, all have refused to break out monthly sales--which are likely low.
Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] consistently declines to release sales data for the $109,000 Roadster and $128,500 Roadster Sport models, which is only visible after it files required reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We got no responses from Think USA, which sells the City two-seater; Wheego, which offers the Whip LiFe two-seater; and Fisker, which should have logged its very first retail sales of the Karma range-extended electric sport sedan in October.
Smart, now sold in the U.S. by Mercedes-Benz, also declined to report its monthly sales of the 2011 Smart Electric Drive. It delivered the first electric Smart ForTwo in January, and said its U.S. sales this year would be roughly 250 cars.