Chevrolet Volt is best-selling EV in the US for first half 2012

Article by Anita Panait, on July 6, 2012

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.

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.

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.

Chevy 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.

In developing the new Chevrolet Volt, the design team, as well as the engineering team, wanted it to be the brand’s most aerodynamic vehicle to date. Thus the two teams worked together with expert aerodynamicists and using the wind tunnels of GM finally managed to come out with the new Volt.

The way that the front fascia, for example, has been flushed and rounded and then combined with the grille and narrowed corners ensures that the air can easily move around the vehicle resulting in the drag being lowered. On the back, the addition of a spoiler and the use of the sharp edges also allow the air flow to be controlled.

By having the windshield have a more aggressive rake, and the back glass as well, it helps with the drag experience and the turbulence. Since the aerodynamics has indeed been improved, it meant that there would be less energy to use in order to overcome any of the air resistance encountered.

Thus, the power in the battery can be utilized better, allowing for the electric range to be increased by 8 miles with the extended range having that extra 50 miles. The way it has been designed though, like its performance-oriented stance, provides a clue as to the actual electronic capabilities of the Volt. This is in addition to having that midsize and classy sport sedan appearance. The fact that everything was executed in a premium manner helped as well. Then there is of course the sculpted belt line and the wheels-out stance.

Measurements also contribute like the wheelbase which is at 105.7 inches (2,685 mm). The tracks also played a part considering that the rear is wider by 62.1 inches (1,578 mm) and the front by 61.1 inches (1,556 mm). What also makes the Volt exceptional is that the flush relationships and the element-to-element gap are considered to be one of the best in its class. The underhood compartment did not even go unnoticed. Indeed, each part of the Volt follows a rather high standard when it comes to the look, complementing the rest of the vehicle by using the same colors and similar grained surfaces.

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