June Plug-In Electric Car Sales: Volt Stays Strong, Leaf Low

Follow John

2013 Chevrolet Volt

2013 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

Half of this year is now gone, which means it's time once again to look at sales of plug-in electric cars--both for June and for the first six months of 2012.

Coming off a streak of low sales months, 535 Nissan Leafs were sold in June, less than one-third the 1,708 Leafs delivered in June 2011.

This means that 3,148 Leafs have been sold in the first half of 2012, fewer than for the same six-month period in 2011, by which time 3,875 Leafs had been delivered.

The continuing low numbers for 2012 make it seem challenging indeed for Nissan to meet its stated goal of selling 20,000 Leafs in the U.S. this year.

Last month, however, a Nissan executive modified the claim to say that would be 20,000 Leafs by the end of the 2012 fiscal year--which extends through March 2013.

Continuing recently stronger sales compared to last year, 1,760 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric cars were delivered last month.

That brings the Volt sales total through June to 8.817, making it likely that Chevy will more than double its 2011 sales total of 7,671 (which was shy of the 10,000 ebullient GM executives had predicted before the car launched).

The June totals are up compared to May's sales of plug-in cars, which included 510 Leafs and 1,680 Volts.

The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid sold 695 units in June, bringing its 2012 total to 4,333 and cementing its position as second most-popular plug-in car on sale this year.

Mitsubishi sold an additional 33 'i' electric minicars in June, and Ford has finally gotten the Focus Electric bandwagon rolling, saying it sold 89 of them in June.

Ford also noted that in 2012 to date, it has built 763 electric Focuses--many of which are likely in the pipeline to dealers now.

June saw the first retail sales of the much-anticipated 2012 Tesla Model S, but Tesla refuses to say how many cars it delivered in June, or any other month.

Struggling luxury electric-car maker Fisker also declines to provide sales numbers, as does Coda.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (52)
  1. Regarding the Nissan Leaf, please remember that Leaf production is severely constricted right now as Nissan prepares to begin Leaf production at plants in the U.S. and England (by end of year) and in its recently announced partnership, a new plant in China. Since December, 2010, Nissan and Renault have been producing the world's population of Leafs/Renault EV at one Japanese plant. This has limited production, resulting in low Leaf sales. Nissan expects to meet it's goal of selling 20,000 Leafs in U.S. by close of its fiscal year, in March, 2013, once production begins at its Tennessee Leaf plant in December and supply is expanded. Please stop the negativity on Leafs, this is supply issue!

  2. Are you saying that US Leaf sales this year thus far are limited by production? And not demand?? If you wanted to get a Leaf in the US in 2012, how long would you have to wait?

  3. I wonder how much the battery problems the Leaf has with heat are going to affect sales. I'm guessing they haven't yet, but the next few months should be telling. Unless Nissan response well/quickly I don't see anyone outside of cool areas purchasing the Leaf.

  4. There are now Leaf vehicles on many if not most Nissan dealer's lots waiting for buyers. One can simply walk onto a Nissan dealership and drive away in a new Leaf, at least at many dealers. This is NOT a "supply problem" as I understand the term. There IS a "supply problem" in getting a new Tesla S right now, but certainly not a Nissan Leaf.

  5. There are more comments in this thread
  6. As I've stated before, I am curious about what these "sales" numbers mean in terms of overall production.

    For example, it would be informative to know how many Leafs Nissan has manufacturered and distributed worldwide. It might be that they now are shipping a larger percentage of those vehicles to other countries (like Australia, which just opened its Leaf market), and a lower percentage to the USA, in anticipation of the Smyrna, TN, plant coming online later this year to take up the slack.

  7. I also wonder if the number of vehicles currently on dealers' lots (according t Cars.com) also merits scrutiny. Here's why:

    8,817 (sold thru June) + 4,623 (on lots) = 13,440 Chevy Volts
    Percentage sold so far this year = 66%

    3,148 (sold thru June) + 1,909 (on lots) = 5,057 Nissan Leafs
    Percentage sold so far this year = 62%

    The difference between those percentages strikes me as almost negligible. Sales of the *available* vehicles actually seem to be running neck-and-neck.

  8. That is true. But if you take a look at California dealers (the hot spot for EVs/hybrids/plug-ins), Volt is in the short supply where Leaf are widely available in the California. The recent negative press about Leaf Battery can't help...

  9. Until one digs deeper than the sales figures claimed, nothing much can be said about a car's popularity with the public. Certainly GM's original estimates have proven to be absurdly overly optimistic. And even their revised estimate of 40K is out of reach,as is the lowered estimate of 30K from the analysts.
    Then there were fleet buys by GE which distorts the picture, and the fact that GM halted production of the Volt entirely for more than a month due to lack of demand. Certainly if GM had produced the car with its original striking looks and for their original estimated price, the car would be selling and possibly even making a profit. It was as if GM decided they could sell this car
    even though they broke all the auto retailing rules

  10. With Whiners like you spewing false information on the Volt, I am even surprised that Volt did this well. Did you NOT read the article on Hybrid cars? 90% of the sales went to Retail Customers.

    The Volt is in the low $30k range when all rebates and incentives are included. It is just average buyers are too dumb to figure out and too many negative coverage are on the Volt.

    Why don't you stay with your WSU battery top instead of the Volt?

  11. @Kent: Why would fleet buys "distort the picture"? A check from GE is just as good as a check from a retail buyer--and GE may be buying its Volts for more rational reasons than some Volt buyers. Sales reports cover *total* deliveries, not just deliveries to retail buyers.

    Analysts use the fleet-retail breakdowns mostly to calculate profit margins for given car lines. Since GM and Nissan may be losing money on every Volt and Leaf they sell, that's probably somewhat academic at this point.

  12. Picking up a new Volt tomorrow. Looking forward to it. I doubt I'll see many Leafs on I-95 on my way home from the dealership.

  13. John, I hope you enjoy yours as much as I do mine. Keep all of us informed as you get further into usage, please.

  14. 2,100 highly subsidized sales out of 1,200,000 vehicles sold is success including Government and GE purchases?

  15. Well, it did better than Leaf and Focus EV (both are highly subsidized by the government and the Green Loans in the Billions).

    You are just a GM/Volt hater.

  16. @James: Same comment as to Kent, above: Why are government and GE purchases any less valid than those from retail buyers?

  17. one reason is because govt is easily bought for a price. gm is an american company, while nissan is not.

    i dont think we will be able to see which cars do well until a few years from now, when the ev market has hopefully gotten bigger.

  18. That $2.1 Billion that Nissan got from the DOE for "green technology" certainly makes a difference, doesn't it?

    If Nissan is truly interested in EVs like you said, NIssan would have done a better job on its battery...

  19. @Xialong: Nissan was approved for $1.6 billion in low-interest loans under the DoE Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program:

    In the end, the company only ended up borrowing $1.4 billion for the Smyrna plant to build its Li-ion cells and the addition of the Leaf to the line that builds Altimas, Maximas, etc.:

    Not sure where your $2.1 billion figure comes from, but please enlighten me.

  20. you are also comparing a car that runs on electricity with one that only goes 40 miles before it starts using gasoline.

    anyone with oil interests will favor a car that uses gas.

  21. @EV Enthusiast, Your view of "pure EV" sense is good but your view of Volt's practical solution to the problem is bad. Before we have a full EV infrasture in place, it is just NOT practical to have EV only for most people. Let me give you an example. I had to drop my Mom at airport this past week. I lived 67 miles away from OAK. That is 133 miles round trip. There is NO way that I would make it back in less than 3 hours with ANY EV (except the expensive Telsa S).

    So, in that case, My Volt worked perfectly. In the last 1118.1 miles on my Volt, I only used 4 gallon of gas so far. That is a great start for most people.

    Your "strict" view of EV is EXACTLY why the public has a negative view on the EV as a whole.

  22. Xialong, what do you mean by "EV only"? Most households have two drivers and two vehicles (or more). Most people do not commute beyond the LEAF's range every day. The case you make for a trip to an airport 67 miles away could be handled by taking the ICE car if you had access to a spouse/partner's vehicle. But in most cases the EV would take you to work and back with plenty of errands along the way. For those who have a sales route or a very long commute, a pure EV may not be the best choice. But to say it's wrong for "most people" is uninformed.

  23. Sure, for some people it will work. But it doesn't have wide appeal. Many household have two working people. Swtiching cars might NOT be a choice. Sure, for many people 70 miles in the Leaf is more than enough for 90% of the driving. But having that limitation is exactly what causes most buyers to stay away.

    As far as price goes, I think Price is already comparable. Leaf is around $22k after tax credits/incentives. Volt is around $30k after tax credits/incentives (CA and Fed). The latest QTR average car selling price was above $30k.

  24. Same argument can also be made that "anyone with coal interests will favor a car that uses electricity"...


  25. there is a huge oil interest. it has controlled the world for the past 100 years. the only thing that is silly is your inability to see what just about everyone else already knows.

    you, like the author, are biased towards gm, for whatever reasons.

    the volt is gm's excuse to delay evs. people would be better off spending 20% of the new volt purchase price and get a good used gas car, until they fit the mold of a "pure ev".

    most people today already can fit that mold, at least with one vehicle in the household.

    i dont think the public has a negative view on the ev as a whole, in even the slightest little bit. in fact, just the reverse.

    price is the only drawback, not the vehicle itself.

  26. if evs cost the same as ices, you couldnt hardly give a new ice away. not 1 person in 100 would opt for an ice, if price was the same.

    so no negative view at all. simply a practical pocketbook decision.

    as i have stated many times, if the bigwigs want to sell us evs, they will. at this point, only nissan is demonstrating a real desire to sell evs (of the major car companies).

    so there is still a lot of reluctance to wean us off oil, and the profits and control that the bigwigs wield with it.

  27. @EV Enthusiast,

    You have greatly over simplify the problem. Today's infrastrue are very lacking. Plenty of my co-workers are commuting more than the Leaf's range. How is that buying an used ICE car better than the Volt?

    Did you NOT read what I wrote? I have ONLY used 4 gallon of gas since I bought the Volt with currenty 1112 miles on it. List anther ICE car that can do that. Didn't you say you are totally anti-oil? In the situations where I used gas, the Leaf wouldn't be able to get me home...

    Also, FYI GM is coming out with Spark EV.

    Leaf might be a "pure EV". But it is really NOT all that different from a modified Versa. Also, I think Nissan's first attempt is pretty poor with the battery issue in the hot climate.

  28. There are more comments in this thread
  29. I wonder how many foreign cars you have purchased and help subsidize the import industry?

  30. There are only 7 Leafs in the St Louis area, and only one dealer has 2 or more cars on the lot. That isn't much choice. Hard to sell the public on something that they can't see and/or when there aren't many choices.

  31. 16,000 miles on my Leaf in hot inland California, and 100% battery capacity after just over a year. Glad to have mine!

  32. "Nissan and Renault have been producing the world's population of Leafs/Renault EV at one Japanese plant"
    FYI, the Renault Fluence ZE is being produced in Turkey, the Kangoo ZE in France, and the Twizy in Spain. The new ZOE will be produced in France also. None of the Renault electric cars are produced in Japan.

  33. @JP: I suspect that was meant to read, "Nissan and Renault have been producing THE LITHIUM-ION CELLS FOR the world's population of Leafs/Renault EVs at one Japanese plant."

    Just as Nissan is setting up electric-car assembly lines in Smyrna, TN, and Sunderland, UK, to supplement its Oppama, Japan, plant, it is also setting up multiple Li-ion cell fabrication lines.

  34. You might be right. However, if the Fluence ZE, the Kangoo ZE and the Twizy have batteries from AESC , the joint venture between Nissan et NEC , the Zoe will have batteries from the South-Corean LG. The French plant that will be producing batteries for Renault is now scheduled to deliver its first batteries in early 2015.

  35. Actually, spoke too fast, the Twizy has LG batteries also.

  36. The debate for electric cars is over. The Volt is NOT taking any type of marketshare, nor is it on track to take any substantial markethare away from other cars.

    GM missed their sales target in 2011 and they have downward revised the 2012 number from 40,000 to 20,000 and now some are saying 18,000. That is NOT a rousing success story.

    Even with all the "spin" the Volt is a yawner.

  37. @James: Au contraire, the effort around plug-in electric cars has barely begun. Plug-ins are actually selling better than the Toyota Prius hybrid did in its early years, and suffer many of the same criticisms.

    Read up on the model plans to be launched by essentially all global automakers. Some will have volume entries, some will have only compliance cars at first. But to say that after 19 months on the market, "the debate...is over" betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of vehicle development time, consumer education, and the long-term regulatory trends in Asia, Europe, and North America.

    We, of course, recommend regular reading of Green Car Reports to educate yourself on such matters!

  38. Volt is selling better than 80% of the hybrid models out there...

    With over $600 Million in Revenue, I would say that is a pretty major success.

  39. Hi John,
    Thanks for the latest update on Toyota's sale figure on Pip. "The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid sold 695 units in June, "
    I am curious if that is b/c Toyota has sold out all the "pre-ordered" Prius Plug in or is the sales really tanking?

  40. @Xialong: Toyota hasn't said, as far as I'm aware, how many pre-orders their dealers have taken for the Plug-In Prius. I suspect the first few months' worth of sales were to chew through some of that backlog, and the level may now be moving to more sustainable numbers--though there will always be some noise level month to month.

    Toyota told us that they think a level of somewhere between 9,000 and 12,000 Prius plug-ins per year--or thereabouts--is what they expect. So a level about 800 a month would be in line with that.

  41. Thanks for the information. That is about half of what the Volt is expected to sell per year. I wonder if Ford's Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi are expected to sell in the similar range.

  42. Xiaolon,

    i dont doubt that there are some people whose commute does not fit an ev. there are countless others who can easily get by with an ev.

    for the masses, price is much more of a deterrent than lack of range.

    each year, both will improve.

  43. I think Leaf and Volt Price is already low enough with tax incentive/credits included. In CA, Nissan Leaf is around $22k and Volt is around $30k. Average car selling price just hit $30k in recent qtr...

    I think GM did a better engineering job with its battery protection than Nissan did. It is the ONLY auto maker who "WARRANTIES" battery capacity where Toyota and Nissan don't. If they were truly EV makers, they would have done that...

  44. are you sure ? i bought a nice used car a couple years ago from a dealer. i dont think i saw anything selling in the 30s. mostly high teens to low 20s, in terms of their new cars.

    unless you are talking about big trucks, suvs, or something a lot more substantial than the cars.

    the leaf, coda, focus, volt, etc. are all somewhat compact cars, correct ?

    i think they are all quite a bit more expensive today than their gas counterparts.

    coda came out with a better battery system, and used it in advertising against the leaf.

    but i am not convinced that all areas need that sort of battery. and i am suspecting that nissan did without to keep the expense down.

  45. Apparently, you don't shop around for "nice" cars. What do you buy? Hyundai and Kia? Many "premium" compact class from Europe can easily go into 30s and 40s. Even Accord and Camry are tipping the $30k range with loaded options..

    Leaf, Coda, Focus and Volt are all compact in size, but they are all as quiet as the "premium" sedan and Volt's driving dynamic is closer to that of a luxury sedans. Did you NOT read that one of the most popular trade-in for the Volt is BMW 3-series?

    I wouldn't put much faith in Coda. They might be an "EV" company but they have yet to sell any in decent quantity. I am also NOT sure about its safety rating. At least the Volt is 5-star rated.

    Have you even driven the Volt?

  46. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut11.shtm

    Average new car price is over $28k.

    The latest qtr went over $30k. I can't find the link right now, but I will repost it when I do...

  47. i was actually thinking that the nissan battery system suffered more in cold places like minnesota.

    but even if you need to exclude the hottest and coldest climates in the usa, i think that still leaves lots of areas that dont need it.

    fyi, even john voelcker (who usually compares gm to the next best thing to sliced bread) has stated that the spark is meant to be a compliance car. so gm wont sell many, cuz they dont want to sell many.

    they would prefer to sell none. only someone with blinders on cant see that gm is not ev-friendly.

  48. So, you are telling me that it is okay to design that car with "limited" appeals? That sounds to me like a "green wash" approach.

    Why are you so against the Volt? Just b/c it has a gas engine on board? Your atittude of the "pure EV" sense is exactly when majority of the buyers out there won't touch the EVs. Volt is the ONLY thing that will let most "anti-EV" people to cross that bridge without fear. Sure, for most people EVs are fine for daily use. But that "fear" will always be there. what is wrong with Volt removing that "fear" so people can grow to see why "pure EV" would work?

    If they prefer to sell none, then why do GM bother to test the crap out of it? After all, they can just be Nissan and screw people with untested battery

  49. @EV Enthusiast,

    Your anti-GM attitude on EV is exactly why People think EV drivers are snobbish and don't want to be associated with "green wash" crap. Maybe you hate GM for switch off the EV1 program. But that movie "who killed the electric car" was retarded. GM was losing "Billions" on the EV1. Sure, people would love to "buy" the car. But they had NO idea what the real cost was. Not to mention the fact of liabilities and support, GM had to cut the program off. All car companies are there to make money. Without profits, they won't survive. It will be NAIVE to think otherwise.

  50. You are just making excuse for Nissan. If Nissan is truly committed to EVs like you said, then why don't Nissan WARRANTY its battery capacity. Put money where its mouth it. If GM doesn't want EVs to succeed, then why does it bother to BE THE ONLY COMPANY that warranty its battery capacity? Nuff said there.

  51. Plug-In Electric Cars..........just another Hollywood Marriage. And like many marriages the odds are they wind out getting a divorce after the Honeymoon("The Thrill is Gone") is over :-)

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.