The top-selling rechargeable vehicle in the U.S. in May is the Chevrolet Volt from General Motors Co. It is trailed by the plug-in Prius of Toyota Motor Corp. and the all-electric Leaf hatchback of Nissan Motor Co. From only 481 Volts sold a year ago, sales of the GM plug-in sedan increased by over three times to 1,680 units.
The Prius version that was presented in March had racked up sales of 1,086 units. Meanwhile, Leaf sales fell by 55% to 510 cars. The Volt’s sales climbed after GM experienced a short stop in its production as inventory increased and as sales slowed down after reported incidents of battery packs catching fire after crash tests.
In April, production resumed with structural reinforcements that assure safety as well as revisions that made the Volt eligible for rebates and carpool lane access in California, which is the biggest market for rechargeable vehicles. Al Castignetti, the vice president of Nissan’s North American sales, said that Leaf sales have declined during the last couple of months as the company made changes on the strategies for selling the car, which is now offered in 50 states in the U.S.
He explained that there are “huge dispersion issues.” He said that dealerships have “pretty good” inventories but then there are states where no Leaf has ever been sold. Leaf sales grew by an average of 73 miles (117 kilometers) a charge, rising to at least 1,000 a month by July. The best-selling rechargeable car this year is still the Volt, which could be driven by a minimum of 35 miles on lithium-ion battery power before a gasoline engine kicks in.
The Volt had sales of 7,057 units for sales through May. However, this figure increased by more than three times to 7,057 units. On the other hand, 3,638 plug-in Priuses were sold for the same figure while just 2,613 Leafs were sold.
At the center of the new Chevrolet Volt lies the celebrated Voltec propulsion system. With this, the Volt is able to experience the output of a range-extending and efficient engine plus the power delivered by an all-electric drive. The battery itself it is composed of a lithium-ion battery pack that comes in a T-shape. It measures 5.5 feet and weighs at 435 pounds (198.1 kilograms). Built at a facility located in Township, Michigan, this battery provides the needed energy in order for the electric drive unit to be able to deliver 149 hp (111 kW).
Since it uses pure electricity, emission is zero. Depending on what the current temperature of the surrounding is plus how it is being driven and the type of terrain, the Volt can go from a minimum of 25 miles to a maximum of 50 miles using purely electricity. However, should the battery be ever depleted, the system immediately shifts to the extended-range mode where the energy is now sourced from the 1.4-liter gas-powered engine capable of 84 hp (63 kW).
With this, the Volt gets an extra range of 310 miles. Overall, the battery in the Volt possesses the qualities of durability, performance, quality, reliability, safety, and most of all, value. In order to guarantee this promise, the battery is under a 100,000 mile/8-year warranty. In fact, engineers at GM have been working on it going back as far as 2007 resulting in the battery pack completing validation testing amounting to four million hours and one million miles.
The testing was not done simply on the battery pack but included the 9 modules present in each pack and the 288 prismatic cells. The company made sure, through the work of the development team, validation team, and test team, that each of the 161 components of the battery would be able to pass the validation and meet the needed conditions. In fact, 95% of the parts of the battery was not only designed by GM but even engineered by the company.