The Chevrolet Volt is by far the best-selling plug-in car in the United States.

Last year, it represented almost 45 percent of all plug-in electric cars sold during 2012.

But how's it doing outside the U.S., compared to the Nissan Leaf--which is sold globally in North America, Asia, and Europe?

First, while the Volt is sold in Canada, China, most European countries, and Australia, the number of sales outside the U.S. is small.

Just 1,336 Volts found buyers outside the States during the portions of the year the car was on sale--against 23,461 in the U.S.

Of those, 1,225 of them were sold in Canada. China and Europe together accounted for only 111 Volts.

There's an explanation for that, though. It's called the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera.

The Ampera is essentially a Volt with a nose job, sold in Europe under the German Opel badge (except in the U.K., where right-hand drive versions are called Vauxhalls but are otherwise Opels).

In Europe, customers purchased 5,293 Amperas--about 23 percent of the number of Volts sold in the States.

So total global sales of Volts and Amperas together in 2012 was 30,090.

That may or may not put it ahead of the Nissan Leaf, for which we're still trying to get global sales figures.

Meanwhile, if global Volt sales follow the curve that they did in the U.S., they may rise substantially during 2013

And if "a rising tide lifts all boats," the arrival of more than a dozen new plug-in cars on global markets this year should boost awareness and likely Volt/Ampera sales along with it.

As we keep saying, it's very early days yet for plug-in electric cars.


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