The top-selling plug-in vehicle in the U.S. in the first half of 2012 is none other than General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt, posting a sales figure that’s more than double what its closest rival, the Toyota Prius, has achieved. The Volt logged a 221-percent year-on-year increase in sales for the first six months of 2012, selling 8,817 units.
The Prius, which was only rolled out in March 2012, sold 4,347 units. Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf, meanwhile, posted a 19% year-on-year drop in sales for the first half of 2012 to 3,148. EV sales figures in June showed the same trend, with the Volt still leading the pack with 1,760 units; Prius with 695 units; and Leaf with 535 units. Nissan blamed its dismal sales to a recent switch to direct dealer sales of the Leaf.
Al Castignetti, vice president of Nissan's North American sales, disclosed that on March 1, 2012, the company chose to lean on a more traditional dealer model. He quipped that Nissan miscalculated the marketing “that had to go behind it." In 2011, Nissan delivered Leafs to customers on a waiting list, rather directly from dealers.
The Volt, meanwhile, is a growing attraction in California after GM modified the EV’s warranty and emissions to qualify it for state rebates and for solo drivers to be allowed to use carpool lanes. The increase in sales came after GM momentarily stopped Volt production early 2012 when demand for the EV cooled down on news of battery-pack fires following crash tests.
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt could travel up to 38 miles or 61 kilometers using a single charge of its lithium-ion battery pack. It also has a U.S. efficiency rating of 98 miles per gallon-equivalent. The Leaf, meanwhile, has an average mileage of 73 miles per charge. Prius could run up to 15 miles on battery power and then switch to a 50-mile-per-gallon hybrid.
The Volt has a starting price of $39,145 before a $7,500 federal tax credit. The Prius has a base price of $32,000 before a $2,500 tax credit while the Leaf has a starting tag of $35,200 before a $7,500 credit.