Chevrolet Back In US Sales Game With Next Gen Volt, Upgraded Nissan LEAF Not So Much

General Motors

APR 11 2016 BY MARK KANE 65

Chevrolet Volt sales in U.S. – Through March 2016

Chevrolet Volt sales in U.S. – Through March 2016

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Ever since the launch of EV sales in the United States in December of 2010 we have seen an incessant duel between two heavy weight players – the extended range Chevrolet Volt and the all-electric Nissan LEAF.

The two had good and bad times, exchanging the crown for all-time sales leader several times, but 2015 was especially weak for both strong players in the segment.

For the Chevrolet Volt, introducing the second generation car bumped sales almost immediately (even though strong, nationwide inventory roll-out just got underway in earnest mid-March).

Looking at the action in March and in early April we can already confirm that the Chevy Volt is back in the game with the 2017 edition launched this past February.

With 1,865 sales in March (192% up year-over-year), saw the Volt growing for sixth month in time a row – with a strong spike in the second half of the month.  One has to go back almost 3 years to see another 6 month growth spurt…from here the comparables are low, and we should start to see sales really jump as a result of the new car – meaning we could be in the midst of a multi-year streak for the Volt.

On the other hand, Nissan also improved the current year’s LEAF, by increasing the range by about 25% (up to 107 miles of real-world range), but the car itself remained in first gen trim otherwise.

Despite the upgrade helping sales surge higher in almost every other region of the world, in the US the consumer is pelted daily with the news of upcoming longer range all-electric cars, and the result has been that LEAF sales in the U.S. have fallen for 15 months in a row.

In March only 1,246 LEAFs were sold – another 31% down.

The US has spoken, it just is not willing to buy “city EVs” (~100 mile) in volume any more.  The LEAF sales are likely in a holding pattern until 2017 with the anticipated arrival of the next generation LEAF in the first half.

Nissan LEAF sales in U.S. – Through March 2016

Nissan LEAF sales in U.S. – Through March 2016

Also of note: The Chevrolet Volt is now slightly ahead of Nissan LEAF in all-time sales rank (92,737 vs 92,522).

TOP 10 U.S. Plug-In Cars (cumulative sales) - December 2010 to March 2016

TOP 10 U.S. Plug-In Cars (cumulative sales) – December 2010 to March 2016

Categories: Chevrolet, Nissan, Sales

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65 Comments on "Chevrolet Back In US Sales Game With Next Gen Volt, Upgraded Nissan LEAF Not So Much"

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The leaf should had the 25% range raise to 107 miles on hour in 2012 or 2013 now they did it to little to late. Another thing too they have been very slow to add DC Quick chargers to support it.

Exactly. The current 30KWH upgraded battery merely brings the LEAF up to the initial “100 mile” range that was promised when the LEAF was originally released. 107 miles does cut it when the Bolt is coming soon with 200 miles and the Volt has 53 miles plus a gas engine. And then the Model 3 puts the LEAF to shame (but it is a long way away).

Oh . . . and Chademo looks like it is stalling because all the German and American companies are supporting CCS whereas no one buy Nissan is supporting Chademo in the USA.

I am mildly happy that ChaDemo is probably going away. If there is going to be a charging network for those of us that can’t afford a Tesla, it would be good to have a single platform to work with. It sounds like CCS is ready to up its game from the current 50 kW charge rate (perhaps up to 90 kW charge rates) as soon as there are enough electric cars that would actually be able to handle the load.

Yeah, I would really like SAE-CCS to up its game ASAP. Bump it up to 100KW. That way they can start build/designing 100KW chargers AND start building cars that can handle 100KW. I kinda doubt the current Bolt would be able to handle 100KW if such CCS chargers became available.

It has been bumped to 150kW long time ago, where you have been? 300 kW will follow with 800V.

As for the US, too bad CSS “inventors” left us with 2 different plugs in US and Europe. So the US now needs to do their own plug testing.

I know they’ve been talking about 150KW and it is proposed. But is it approved? Are there any chargers that can produce 150KW? I am pretty sure there are no cars that can handle 150KW.

Few 120 kW (per plug) public chargers are installed in Norway and Germany. They use this one model:
but others are available too.

Sure no mass market cars can use full 120 kW CCS or Chademo power, just experimental prototypes. Kia Soul EV tops at something like 70 kW I think. Even Tesla Chademo adapter is limited to around 50 kW. So there is no point to invest capital into mass deployment of chargers and electrical infrastructure so far.

z, have you seen a 150 kW CCS? I sure haven’t. I would be happy to see chargers on the ground that are up to 60 kW and 90 kW would be phenomenal, this year. By next year the numbers will be higher.

see my comment below, currently we are at 120 kW with potential upgrade to 150 kW.

royal we, as in the community, I have nothing to do with building or installing fast chargers is Norway

Not really 2 different plugs as I understand it.

The combo1 is just a j1772 type 1 with dc pins.

The combo2 is just a mennekes with dc pins.

The car has the existing Level 2 stuff the same as it has always been – and EV’s won’t change the differing ways North America and Europe/Asia are wired – as has been rehashed here all the time.

So, the ‘added’ part of CCS is the same, and very cheap for manufacturers to implement since it is only one jack assembly on the car.

Yes, the ccs thing looks FrankenPlug-esque, but I’m sure its popularity is due to its cost-effectiveness.

I’m not sure that DC plugs is exactly the same between Type 1 and Type 2. Anyway, the whole plug is different, so you can’t just certify one and assume another will just work.

EVs will not change how electricity is wired in different continents, but it isn’t so different really. 3-phase AC is more available in Europe than US, but 3-phase is common in the US too in commercial buildings. There is no real need to make plugs different just for some legacy J1772 connector. It is much cheaper and easier physically to make low power AC plug adapter than high power DC adapter when you couple AC & DC together – safety requirements are totally different.

My point is CCS’s popularity is no doubt due to the fact that in either America or Europe there doesn’t have to be much done to either the J1772 Plug, or Mennekes plug to implement it.

The fact that 3 phase is commercially available in the states will not take away from the fact that the J1772 is cheaper to make than the Mennekes plug and recepticle, therefore, the J1772 will continue to be used in NA and won’t be supplanted.

I thought I would add a link to the following:

We often have debates here about the feasibility of other DCFC standards allowing for higher power. Now we have an example of a product that is installed in Norway that we know can charge CCS at 120 kW (if a car was made to take it) and can charge a Chademo Kia at 70kW.

I think that if a Kia soul with a 27 kWh battery can charge at 70 kW then a bolt with a 60 kWh battery from the same battery manufacturer could comfortably charge at 120 kW possibly even 150 kW. I guess we’ll have to wait until the bolt is sold in Norway.

I may kindly remind Musk worshipers that Model 3 is still imaginary. When it will finally hit mass production, Leaf 2 may be old with all the miles you need (if you really need them).

Chademo is fine and alive, can do up to 120 kW on certain chargers in Europe, and it is single standard that is the same standard around the world. Unlike CCS that is fragmented between Europe and US, and non-existent in Japan or Korea. Or Tesla one that is both non-standard, fragmented across continents and uses “walled garden” approach killing single charging network idea.

Anyway most new chargers are dual standard CCS and Chademo, and it doesn’t add so much to charger cost, so who cares really which one of these 2, they are both more or less open standards. There are still plenty of chargers in the US that are Chademo only, so right now it would be more practical to buy a car with Chademo, not CCS, even if it may change several years later.

I don’t think the Tesla Supercharger Stranded is going to take over. The reason why is the Tesla Supercharger by it’s current nature is not going to show up nor would Tesla want it to be on every street corner. In that if Tesla Superchargers were on every street corner Tesla would have to buy electricity for them.

As if now I wish they would built chamo chargers on every street corner or build a CSS to Chamo adapter or a double Chamo and CSS port on the hoods of these electric cars.

Current inventory suggest that ~46% of LEAFs sold are S model with 24 kWh pack (~84 miles) vs SV/SL models with 30 kWh (107 mile) pack.

If the issue was just AER (all-electric range) then the mix of 24 vs 30 kWh versions would follow. So far not seeing a major shift … indicating there are other factors effecting LEAF sales in the U.S.

One major factor accounting for 800-1200 sales per month was Georgia state sales incentive abruptly ending last year.

Another is that the number of BEV sales each month is growing faster than new DC charging infrastructure deployments. Current DC charging station deployment design/strategy is flawed in most locations only install a single stall; greatly reducing reliability and potential availability. Where DC infrastructure is robust and growing — Europe, Canada, Asia, etc. — sales of BEVs are up year over year.
eg: In Canada and Europe LEAF sales breaking records.

I suspect that the 24/30 kWh mix is heavily influenced by the fact that the SV is priced at $5190 more than the S. Seem like huge upcharge for 6 kWh and a few proprietary geegaws and QC charge port.

Great charts and article! Look at the sales of the Model S climb like a home sick angel! The Chevy Volt will give the S a run for its money this summer and into next year as the Volt inventory builds, but Tesla will be hard to beat in the long run. The S has cachet and the Volt does not.
Can’t wait to see the Bolt on this chart.
Oil is over $40 a barrel and will probably not go below $30 again, which might not help sales a lot, but low oil prices do seem to inhibit electric car sales, despite Panglossian statements/articles that low prices have no effect.

Maybe the best theory is that the Model S was mostly production limited? Maybe?

So, it turns out, if you have a good package (range *3 of the rest, like the price) You still sell large amount of cars. Sort of an iPhone analogy, the end product is what matters most.

If that line picks up anymore it could hit the volt target by the end of the year, if we’re really optimistic.

As others noted the markets are really weird, in Europe the Volt/Ampera didn’t sell, but in the US it’s doing fine.

Also, the 4% tax rating (vs 25%) advantage is being used for BEV commercials (in NL) from BMW and Nissan are picking up pace.

I’ve had no commercials for the Kia Soul EV though, I even visited a dealer this saturday, and there are apperently just 8 in NL for the Kia Soul. Which is bonkers, are they really trying to sell this thing.

Looks like the car manufacturers are getting very confused by the change of market.

Also, people seem to think I’d be interested in the BMW i3, then I remind them it has the same range as my i-Miev from 2010. Hello 2016.

Your European i-MiEV must have considerably more range than our former 2012 North American i-MiEV (a bit heavier and wider). We replaced it with an i3 BEV because the i3 passed our driving test of being able to circumnavigate our island on a single charge (~100 miles/160 km) which our i-MiEV failed by ~20 miles/32 km. The U.S. EPA rates the range of the i-MiEV as 62 miles/100 km and the i3 BEV as 81 miles/130 km which agrees with our experience.

There is no EV more similar to the i-MiEV than the i3 (rear wheel drive, compact CUV, similar weight, similar interior dimensions).

Rising to heaven like a homesick angel. Cool!
Nice image.

Thanks! It was a phrase of my Dad’s, he was more of a Deist than a Christian, but he had a nice way with words.

Volt giving the S a run for its money? What a joke… Also the message about ‘going from leaf to volt’ is nonsense, unless the leaf is that much inferior to a volkswagen e-Golf I can tell you already that once you taste pure electric driving you just don’t want any more gas components in your car. And oil prices are not interesting anymore, we are way beyond the total cost of ownership argument, its about the smooth ride, the excellent immediate torque acceleration, stop-and-go automation etc. I would never go back to a gas car after putting 17,000 miles on our volkswagen eGolf in the last 15 months. Just like I never would trade my iPhone back in for a landline.

As the person that just replaced a Leaf with a 2017 Volt, I can assure you that you are wrong, mostly. I say mostly, because I agree with you about the wanting to drive electric and that the superior driving experience is key. But that’s just the thing. My new Volt is fast enough to run circles around the Leaf, looks cool on the inside and the out, and handles much better. Plus, with 53 miles of range, actually competes pretty well with my old Leaf since I typically wouldn’t run it below 20 miles due to fear of being stranded. Add a little battery degradation and it turns out the Volt has almost the same practical range as the Leaf without all of the downsides.

Michael, your Purista views of what is best for other drivers drives more people away from thinking about electric cars than it brings to the table. The Volt is a car that can be 99% electric and it can drive all day when you need to with no reliance on a currently spotty DCFC network.
If a car buyer has the choice of a conventional ICE, s short legged BEV like a Leaf, a Volt or a $75,000 Tesla, the Volt may be the best choice for a lot of reasons.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say a lot of reasons. A PHEV only beats a BEV is one way and that’s long distance travel. Otherwise you’re carrying around a gasoline engine 99% of the time for that 1% of the time you actually need it. There is less maintenance and less moving parts to fail in a BEV plus you get double the all electric range. Let’s be honest, the main motive in buying either a PHEV or a BEV is for that superior drive of electric, so why not have the most of it? Why settle for half the electric range just to haul around a gasoline engine that you really only use 1% – 2% of the time? I went from a Chevy Volt to the 30KWH Leaf because I was unhappy still being tied to the gas station. Who wants to have an electric car with all the downsides of a gasoline car? The all electric range of the Volt just isn’t enough in the real world unless you never go out, never run errands and have a small little 10-15 mile commute to work. Trust me I know I drove it for 3 years… Read more »

IMHO the question isn’t dragging around and IC engine you only use 1% of the time, it’s about having to have a whole second car with IC for anytime over 0% you need to travel beyond the EV range (and you don’t happen to live in CA, probably the only state with enough QC or even L2 chargers to make such travel even possible, much less practical).

I don’t think Nissan has the large amount of cash on hand like Toyota (Said to habe $65 Billion in cash!), but I think they could at least present a long term 5 Year DC QC Growth Plan, and present it on a map grafic like Tesla did/does!

Even if they put only a $2 Million per year plan out ther, it could amount to at least 20 DC QC’s more per year! If they started connecting city pairs, they could show they are still up to the game!

I do find it interesting that leaf sales are going gang-busters in Europe and Japan but show a lot of weakness in the U.S.

What is your estimate for volt sales in April?

Well, Japan supports their locals. But I’m kinda surprised it is doing well in Europe. Perhaps the Bolt is not coming there any time soon.

Chevy Bolt will be the Opel Amepera E in Europe.

yes, and we get an estimated 10% of production of the Bolt selling as eAmpera.

5000/year can be absorbed alone by one country easily. so the shortage of Bolt in europe is obvious.

Do you have any numbers on LEAF sales in Europe? Or are you talking about the Renault ZOE? Because I think LEAFs are not really sold here that much…

I just bought a 2017 Volt this weekend to replace our Leaf. And I have to say, there is no comparison. The 2nd Gen Volt is a vastly superior product. I hope Nissan has a 2nd Gen Leaf that can compete, but right now I wouldn’t suggest anyone buy a brand new Leaf, when they can get a Volt for similar money. The used market is a different story.

Didn’t know you were out shopping for a new plug-in…congrats on the buy David!

I’ve had my eye on the new Volt for a while but it hasn’t been available in Texas yet. Then I also wanted to wait and see the new Model-III and see what I thought about it. While it appears nice, I think the Volt is probably just as good and is available today.

Congrats, David. As a Volt/Model S garage, I gotta say there are reasons I like the Volt better, including ride. Model S, almost like the Europeans, seems to need a bit of firmness to handle its own power and speed. Softer springs/shocks, and 17″ rubber, are advantages if life is going to be ACC(cruise)/AP, etc. Did you go for the 2017 ACC option? If so, does it work down to stop & go?


The ACC option isn’t being built at the factory yet and won’t be for at least another few months.

Even then, cruise control normally doesn’t work below 25MPH, so it’s unlikely to work in stop-and-go (where it would certainly be useful).

The ACC on my 2015 Ford Fusion will activate above 20 mph and will slow down to 10 mph and then speed back up in traffic. The latest model is supposed to have full stop and go capabilities.

Fusion Energi Titanium that is.

Good news and congratulations, David! We all look forward to a future article on your experience with the 2017 Volt. I’m jealous, youbetcha.

Yeah, I am very impressed by the new Volt. It looks great and it has great specs.

The only issue seems to be that it is a bit small and a lot of people want something bigger.

(For the zillionth time . . . ) GM has GOT to put that Voltec drivetrain into more body styles.

I say the opposite…8.4 0-60 all while eliminating the center rear seat?

Go the way of the i3, add a small 2 cylinder RE engine into the flat floored and quicker bolt…

OK, the 0 to 60 time is not great. But 53 miles AER and the gas-only MPG is decent.

And the new Volt ADDED a center seat (though it is not the most comfortable thing.

The i3 costs much more . . . and has a ‘polarizing’ design.

I beat everyone off the line in my Gen1 Volt.

You won’t beat the GenII Volt off the line. =)

Nope. But the Gen2 Volt will beat a Tesla Model S 85 off the line.

Yeah, like some SUVs.

They could OWN this segment if they would do it but they are too conflicted with their ICE sales to build a superior competing product unfortunately.

Congrats! The new Volt has the same range as a 3-4 year old Leaf in a hot climate, but without the degradation. I sat in one as well, however at my height, couldn’t get comfortable. Agree the Leaf is dated compared to volt 2.0.

Quite a different product though, wonder what the choice would have been if you didn’t have to pay road taxes for the Leaf, but would for the Volt.

Purely hypothetical ofcourse, but it’s what distorts the markets here in NL. If the plugin hybrids also had road tax exemption (like 2010-2014) my choice would likely have differed too.

Cool! This has been the general opinion of things I have read. Have to go for a test drive, when things finally warm up.

Congratulations! Did you finally find one in the DC area? It’s an awesome car. I’m only at almost 900 miles but still haven’t used any gas yet.

Congrats David!

Would you mind doing a review for all of us after you get a few thousand miles on it?

It would be really good to hear your perspective.

In some cases Nissan has donated DCFCs. But unless you saw the newspaper article about the installation you would have no idea that Nissan paid for it. There is an Eaton DCFC in Apex, North Carolina that is an example of this. If you look up the article in the local paper about the system being turned on they mention that it was donated by Nissan. There is nothing on the DCFC itself that mentions this though. Have no idea how many times Nissan has done this though.

There are five CHAdeMO locations that were installed in NC under this project. Nissan did contribute, but it has was consortium lead by Advanced Energy and Eaton. The host sites paid for the installation and operating costs. Looks like roughly $100/month for the electricity based on the chart.

The other dozen or so dual CHAdeMO/CCS charging stations are a result of Brightfield and Nissan.

When is Nissan gonna finally wake up and realize the current path for the Leaf is a dead end?? EV progression is occurring at an exponential rate yet the folks at Nissan think adding a mere 25% range to an unchanged platform will somehow cut it. It’s unfortunate, too, because the Leaf started out with so much potential, yet they just don’t want to improve it..

Don’t be like these kids in backseat “..a we there yet?… are we there yet??? when we will be there?????…” 😉 Nissan has shown you IDS concept that is going to be Leaf 2.0 half a year ago:
It is not going to be hyped and advertised as much as Tesla Model 3 many years before production because Nissan needs current Leaf car to sell, not bubble shares to sell. IDS may be 2017 model. If it will be later model, that is because it is not possible for Nissan to do it in 2017, and not because somebody didn’t “realized” some holy truth.

I just wish that Volt sales numbers were close to those of the Prius. In March, Prius sales were 12,075 compared to 1,865 for the Volt. And Prius sales are disappointing compared to the “Strong” sales of the Volt.

Yeah, that really annoys me. Those numbers should be reversed. But having a strong brand that has been around for years makes people comfortable.

The Volt no longer looks like a weirdsmobile, so I expect sales to be robust. I own one of those weirdsmobiles, and it a fine car, but it wasn’t for everyone. Now I can picture any Chevy customer buying one.

LEAF was the choice back in the days when you can have any BEV you want as long as it was LEAF.

Competition is now catching up. Just like the Volt, with release of energi, PIP, it was getting impacted in sales. The news of new Volt didn’t help either.

Now, the LEAF is bombarded with Model 3 news and new Bolt news which are both coming at “close enough” price but with much better features, performance and style. So, it is rock and hard place for Nissan.

The LEAF 2.0 better be an exception product else it will be squeezed out by the Bolt and Model 3 soon.

scott franco (No M3 FAUX GRILL!)

If the leaf has been declining since the 30kW introduction, then we haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until the Bolt comes into production. The bolt is aimed squarely at the Leaf.

Too bad they aren’t releasing a 60kwh version. Make it a special order just to get one out before the Bolt EV and screw GM out of top spot.

Comparing the lease deals between the Leaf and the Volt one finds that Nissan is giving a much better deal, with over $9000 off the capitalized cost while GM is giving basically nothing off – keeping the $7500 rebate for themselves. If you want to buy at lease end, you will save about $10,000 with the Nissan. I would rather have a Volt, but am very frustrated with GM’s greediness.