Chevrolet Volt The Top Selling Plug-In For America Again…But Just Barely

4 years ago by Jay Cole 21

Chevrolet Volt Takes The US Sales Lead Again

Chevrolet Volt Takes The US Sales Lead Again

The business of selling plug-in cars has had two main themes so far in 2013:

  • Tesla can do no wrong
  • 2013 Nissan LEAF = sales success
Tesla Model S Production Has Now Mostly Been Allocated To Europe For The Balance Of 2013

Tesla Model S Production Has Now Mostly Been Allocated To Europe For The Balance Of 2013

However, lost in those two stories has been the Chevrolet Volt, which (very quietly) has managed to eek its way back into the number 1 position when it comes to plug-in vehicle sales in the US.

GM has wrestled that title away from Tesla by the narrowest of margins according to our plug-in scorecard on industry wide EV sales.

  1. Chevrolet Volt – 9,855
  2. Tesla Model S – 9,850  
  3. Nissan LEAF – 9,839    
  4. Toyota Prius Plug-In – 4,214
  5. Ford C-Max Energi – 2,482

For Tesla, the loss of the selling title was in part due to the fact they are now allocating production to Europe and their Fremont plant only has the capacity to build a fixed number of all-electric Model S sedans each month.

However, it should be noted that even if that was not the case, and Tesla continued to ship all cars domestically, by next month the fictitious title would have been lost just the same as Tesla has now essentially filled their entire US backlog.

Simply put, American demand on a month-to-month basis for a car that starts at $69,900 (and up to $94,900) was never going to be able to compete long-term against the likes of the inexpensive Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF.   But it was fun while it lasted…and they made it to June – pretty darn good.

US-Made LEAFs From $28,800 Have Been A Big Hit This Year

US-Made LEAFs From $28,800 Have Been A Big Hit This Year

…speaking of the Nissan LEAF

This is where the Volt’s challenge to keep its sales crown will come from.

Although GM is currently in first place, their lead over the Nissan is incredibly thin here too, and since the 2013 edition of the LEAF arrived about 4 months ago, Nissan has outsold GM 8,535 to 7,039 – with a Nissan exec also saying that sales over the summer will shoot to all-time highs.

That being said, GM may yet have a retort to Nissan’s mid-year price drop (and subsequent sales increase) on the LEAF when the 2014 Chevrolet Volt pricing is announced shortly.

We feel any reduction in the entry level MSRP would cement the Volt into the first position for the rest of the year.  Conversely, a “stand-pat” position will certainly lead to them finishing the year in second place.

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21 responses to "Chevrolet Volt The Top Selling Plug-In For America Again…But Just Barely"

  1. bloggin says:

    #1 Plug-in Hybrid – Chevy Volt (Compact/Midsize Segment)
    #2 Plug-in Hybrid – Toyota Prius plug-in (Compact/Midsize Segment)
    #3 Plug-in Hybrid – Ford C-MAX Energi (Compact Segment)

    #1 Full EV – Tesla Model S (Luxury Segment)
    Tesla Model S still stands alone in the luxury EV market.

    #1 Full EV – Nissan Leaf (Compact Segment)
    #2 Full EV – Ford Focus Electric (Compact Segment)

    Under $40k Plug in hybrid consumers are not cross shopping under EVs with less than 80 mile range, and under $40k EV consumers are not cross shopping $80k Luxury EVs.

    Just like with ICE vehicles where we would not compare the sales of the BMW 7-Series with the Toyota Corolla, it only makes sense when vehicles are compared based on their proper segment and target market.

    1. bloggin says:

      Could it be that Hybrids without a plug are just as much of an EV as a plug-in Hybrid.

      Here is the energy consumption breakdown of a C-MAX Hybrid owner:

      833.8 Total Miles Driven
      – 660.4 EV miles driven
      – 64.0 MPG combined
      – 13.02 Gallons of gasoline used (gasoline engine kicks in at times to charge batteries)

      Here is the link to the picture of their display:

      1. Mike says:

        that depends on how you drive and WHAT you drive. the Volt goes twice as far on electricity as the other PHEVs: I drove my Volt over 10,000 miles between October 6 and June 2 when I finally put in 6 gallons of gas. Since then I have driven 1600 miles on zero gas. Overall 27,800 miles on 76 gallons of gas
        http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/363

      2. DrInnovaiton says:

        Are you sure that’s a C-MAX hybrid and not a C-MAX Energi (which is a PHEV?)
        That is way way beyond the C-MAX hybrids expected MPG and no one on fuelly is reporting anything like that. http://www.fuelly.com/car/ford/c-max. with an average/median of 39 (Well below the EPA 47). Plenty of C-max Energi users getting 64Mpg (the average and median on fuelly are about that). The plug in makes a huge difference in that platform.

        In comparison the volt median MPG on voltstats.net is 170MPG. (Fuelly cannot handle the volt.. won’t allow more than 200MPG per tank).

    2. evnow says:

      “Under $40k Plug in hybrid consumers are not cross shopping under EVs with less than 80 mile range, and under $40k EV consumers are not cross shopping $80k Luxury EVs.”

      There is definitely some cross shopping happening. Infact I’ve seriously considered getting S from time to time (and will probably get X in ’15).

      While what you say is true in established markets, since there are so few plugins, people seem to cross shop all of them. I’ve seen questions from people in various forums (including some internal to the company I work for), where they start with PIP and end up with S or start with S and end up with Leaf. A lot of people are not necessarily budget constrained and are willing to spend more for S.

  2. GeorgeS says:

    I think the key take is 10000 Volts+ 10000 Nissans+ 10000 Teslas=30000 EVs in 6 months. That’s 60K this year. pretty good IMO.

  3. Stuart22 says:

    The wild card that could upset expectations on the LEAF is the EV Spark.

    It could suck away LEAF sales in California, the primo EV market in America. It’s cute and already is gaining positive media attention. Assuming this continues, public awareness will grow and be drawn its way. I see younger buyers and even older, empty nester types attracted to it – as happened with the Ford Mustang when it first arrived on the scene – which could result in its sales curve rapidly going up.

    But who knows – if the EV market is poised to expand faster than the supply of EVs available, both the LEAF and Spark EV may exceed expectations.

    1. evnow says:

      LOL. You really are a GM fanboy 😉

      1. Mike says:

        I think it does not take a GM fanboy to see the appeal of a vehicle that can be a pocket rocket that will outperform the Leaf and drive for free (monthly payment can be lower than gasoline cost to drive a comparable ICE vehicle).

        1. evnow says:

          Ofcourse it does take a fanboy to think that a tiny sub-compact conversion car sold only in CA (and OR) for compliance purposes would somehow beat a purpose built EV. Reminds me of all those Prius killers GM has built over the years. Mind you none of these Spark fans are considering buying it !!

          1. Audi RS5 says:

            the leaf is ugly/hideous, the volt is the best looking electric car besides the model s

          2. Future Leaf Driver says:

            Bingo, well said evnow!

            1. WopOnTour says:

              Actually. he’s so wrong on so many levels it’s almost humorous…

      2. Ocean Railroader says:

        I know a lot of people who like Chevy products and the Chevy Spark is a good thing for them in that it opens the door to EV’s for them. Besides there is plenty of room for them both in that there are tons of ICE cars to take off the road first.

  4. kimmi says:

    i think both volt and leaf will increase sales and fight for number one until the end… That is, if GM finally agrees to reduce the price on the volt. As for the spark, it would be good if it stayed ahead of the focus electric

  5. evnow says:

    One thing to note is that this is all based on estimated S deliveries. Tesla could have easily delivered 50 (or 100 or 200) more cars in Q2.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Yes, the nutshell take away is that 3 guys are all clumped up at the top so far this year…and they all have been doing well of late.

  6. TeriJ says:

    The nutshell takeaway is the Leaf and Volt and Fit only sell if they are heavily incentivized. As a Honda exec mentioned, this situation is not healthy for the EV industry. Organic demand is what is healthy and sustainable.

    1. evnow says:

      Not sure what you mean by “incentivized”. Leaf’s 28k is the MSRP. The lease rates aren’t particularly great (some 3%).

  7. Blind Guy says:

    It seems that some people can afford to own several different EV choices. We just returned from a cool La Jolla retreat from the AZ heat. My wife noticed a black Volt parked in front of a beach home and then noticed a Tesla model S in the garage parked next to a Bentley. But wait there’s more. A mobile mechanic was about to service the Land Rover also in the driveway and told us that the man also owns a Fisker. BTW, all the cars were painted black.

    1. Martin T says:

      Bet he uses the Volt more !
      But what’s with the black? In snow country it’s visible, in a hot climate one do without the few extra degrees of roasting, but more importantly….trying to keep the dust and swirl marks of the black is another – I’m careful with the upper black trim on the Volt.
      Maybe they get it detailed every week so it shines in the heat LOL!