Repeat Performance: Chevy Volt is North America’s #1 Selling Plug-In Electric Vehicle For 2013


Chevy Volt is #1 in North America

Chevy Volt is #1 in North America

With most of the vital sales numbers now in, we can definitively say that the Chevrolet Volt was America’s #1 selling plug-in vehicle for 2013.

Plug In or Gas Up...With the Volt the Choice is Yours

Plug In or Gas Up…With the Volt the Choice is Yours

For the Volt, this is a repeat performance of last year when the electric Chevy was #1 in sales for plug-in vehicles.

We can further expand upon the #1 spot for the Volt by adding that it tops the North American sales charts too for both 2012 and 2013, as the Volt has continually been Canada’s best selling plug-in vehicle.

Our sales scorecard officially puts the Nissan LEAF in the #2 spot in terms of sales in the US for 2013 and the Tesla Model S grabs the #3 spot.

Here’s how the 2013 sales results play out in our book:

  • Chevrolet Volt: 23,094
  • Nissan LEAF: 22,610
  • Tesla Model S: ~ 17,650

2012 Results:

  • Chevrolet Volt: 23,491
  • Toyota Prius PHV: 12,750
  • Nissan LEAF: 9,819

2011 Results (excluding Tesla Roadster sales in US):

  • Nissan LEAF: 9,674
  • Chevrolet Volt: 7,671
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: 80


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56 Comments on "Repeat Performance: Chevy Volt is North America’s #1 Selling Plug-In Electric Vehicle For 2013"

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There’s a reason why it’s number one.
It’s the best.

(if you never need 5 seats 🙂

If you have 2 Britax convertible car seats in the back, that 5th seat isn’t much of a seat, so for some that seat is overrated. Or, if you are a single adult and tend to carry other adults it would be unusual to drive around with 5. Hence, the popularity of vehicles with 3 rows of seats. How often do you see 5 normal size people riding around in a small or mid size sedan or hatch?

Indeed. I’d like to see a Leaf carrying 5 full-grown American adults.

I was the the DD for 4 other adults and they were happy in the back. Lots of head and leg room.

Yeah when people are drunk they are more relaxed and don’t mind being squished. Now put 2 Britax convertible car seats in the back of your Leaf and tell me how comfortable you are riding around in between them.

I was able to have two baby seats…and their mom in the back in a pinch to make it home from the airport. For those emergencies..the fifth seat can be useful.

If you have a single child, being able to put a child seat in the middle is important. And the Leaf can fit three child seats in the back too.

I don’t drive my car that much (I mainly use public transit), but when I do usually all 5 seats are taken (group trips sometimes with multiple cars). I bet for a lot of people (although obviously not all people) not having the fifth seat, and not having the middle position available for a child seat, is a deal breaker.

This 5-seat thing is getting overplayed still. In a car as small as Volt, OSS it really need a jump (not full size) seat in the middle?

Personally, 4 seats is overkill for me. Volt is mostly driven on my commute with one occupant.

So totally agree Loboc.
The fifth seat requirement is BS, The Volt is a little sports car,,,not a mini van.

I don’t…. as with 90% of commuters.

I agree.
I drove all year on 5.8 gallons of gas .. I have a wattmeter on my charger.. if you add the cost of electricity and total maintenance of $12 for a tire rotation… (no oil changes)…
My total Chevy Volt cost for fuel and maintenance for 8300 hard city miles in PA was LESS THAN $275… and the performance is better than any V8 I ever owned or driven.

Most people can’t even commute with enough people to qualify for carpool lanes…

Looks to me like the Nissan would easily have beaten the Volt had it not been for the couple of months of severe supply constraints. Isn’t that pretty obvious? And the year to year increase of the LEAF is phenomenal. The Volt growth disappointing?

Interesting slant on things. Both cars have 3 years of sales history and they are selling at a similar level. The Volt just got to that level sooner.

Volt also had limited production.

Exactly right, but Elroy slant is everything about the Leaf is phenomenal and everything about the Volt is disappointing. The reality is the Leaf’s inventory was down at the ideal time for it to be down.

I really like the Volt and the Leaf but I think that it is dissappopinting that in a market that grew so much that the Volt stayed the same, not because there wasn’t demand, not because of increased competetion but largley because GM just didn’t build enough Volts. If they’d build 30 000 would they have sold 30 000? My feeling is yes, hopefully ending the year with empty showrooms will push GM into increasing output. Who knows maybe they are suffering shortages as well and just not making a big song and dance about it. Same goes for the PiP and I-MIEV we need sales of everything to be growing now and as fast as possible.

sorry I know that the i-MIEV grew this year but what I meant is that we should have had a whole load imported and then sold rather than a late sell off of the 2012 stock.

kdawg, I think both the Leaf and the Volt have suffered from limited production up until Nissan hired a third shift at Smyrna last month. I hope that GM will follow Nissans lead and really ramp up Volt production this month.
Cars dot com has the Leaf US inventory at 2947 (up from 2000) and the Volt at 2763 (down from 9200), but with both of them now falling as the Christmas break takes effect. I will be curious to see what happens by Tuesday of next week as the holiday ends. But both carmakers would be well served by getting their inventories over 4,000 at least. But Hamtrack also builds the Impala, which makes GM a ton of money, and the ELR.
With the new Volt MSRP just $6k over the Leaf, I think the Volt will continue to win more market share than the Leaf, but if the Volt inventory doesn’t pick up, the Leaf may just start the year by kicking the Volt to the curb.

Only in NA, global sales totaling over 92,000 Leafs by early December 2013…

Come on -get real. That’s total sales world-wide since Dec 2010. How is that number relevant when we are discussing 2013 sales in the USA?

How many Leafs would Nissan have sold if we put the same tariffs on the Leaf as the Japanese put on the Volt? The Volt costs $80,000 in Japan, Germany, UK etc.
They keep us out while we give them $7500 to dump their electric cars here.

Or if GA and Norway would give the same discount to Volt as the LEAF….

Congrats Volt! The best of both worlds.

LEAF sales increase over 100%, Volt sales Decline. Wonder what car is preferred..?

(Same comment reply is relevant for you bro)

Interesting slant on things. Both cars have 3 years of sales history and they are selling at a similar level. The Volt just got to that level sooner.

Yes….the Volt sales actually declined from last year. And the LEAF…well look at the numbers..

Right, the numbers indicate the Volt sold more this year. So according to the numbers the Volt is preferred.

Actually the numbers show the Volt sold less in 2013. Although the timing of the Volt price drop may have to do with it, rather than an actual plateau in sales.

No, read the article:
Chevrolet Volt: 23,094
Nissan LEAF: 22,610

23,094 > 22,610. Chris asked which car was preferred. The bottom line is more Volt’s were sold.

What actually sold more, and what was the more preferred vehicle are not necessarily the same vehicle due to supply constraints. And the months the LEAF was selling less than a thousand units last year was clearly a major aberration due to supply constraints..not just suspect.

Lol. So now you see no one other than Chris follows the stupid % change in sales argument, which as kdawg points out, would make the Focus EV the “preferred EV”. So, lets fallback on the “supply constraints” BS. If demand exceeded supply then why drop the MSRP, and on top of that, advertise discounts off of MSRP? The next argument I hear is, “there is excess inventory at the top trims, but not enough of the S”. The last person who posted that lived in a city where there 60% of the inventory was at the S level. On the weekends, I like to read the sports and autos section of “The Oregonian”. Usually there are 1-3 different dealers with discounted leases on the Leaf S. This has been going on for most of the year. I’d be surprised the dealers would keep spending add dollars if they had none to sell. When will the supply constrained argument ever stop? The Leaf inventory was down at the best time of the year to be down — early in the year during the worst selling months for cars. The Volt’s supply is down right now, which is a worse month… Read more »

You guys can make silly little % and fractional analysis all you wish. The facts remain that after 3 years of production (commencing in Dec 2010 as did the Leaf) the Volt has continually outsold the Leaf in annual sales for 3 years running.

The Chevrolet Volt is and continues to be, the #1 selling plug-in electric vehicle in North America for 3 years running!


as I have said before I like both cars if I was writing this at the end of 2012 I would say that the Volt was doing a lot better than the Leaf, now I am not so sure. I agree that the Volt is ever so slightly winning the sales battle in the USA but it is loosing the larger war on all other fronts: Nissan has 3 factories, GM 1, Nissan sold 42000 globally this year, GM 25000. If GM don’t do something by the end of 2014 they’ll be fighting for 3rd place global sales (behind the S) with the PiP and the Fords. Popular or not GM need to pull there finger out.

IMO the race is far from over but the Leaf is edging ahead. I don’t care who wins in the end all I want is a drastic reduction in the number of people with lung and heart issues relating to urban pollution…… is that too heavy for this sort of discussion? maybe, but when all is said and done let’s just remember we are all one great big dysfunctional family.

Interesting choice of logic. Based on this type of thinking, people prefer the Ford Focus EV more than the Leaf because it increased 250% from 2012 to 2013.

Do you really think you look cool driving a Leaf?

Seriously? I guess if the Volt sold more units than the Leaf that would equate to “more preferred” wouldn’t it? Why should Nissans bad 2012 be rewarded by the % crowd around here? The % are essentially meaningless when it comes to the sales crown.

Good for you, Chevy! The more plug-in vehicles out there, the more the Wal-Mart’ers will know about them and might be willing to test drive one.

It’s not like your shopping at Target gives you any moral superiority. Just requires that you get a new debit card.

Haha, that first half of that sentence sounded awfully troll-ish in nature, but that second sentence cracked me up.

Congrats to the Volt, and Now, the ELR. Hopefully GM will release a 3rd version soon, hopefully, a crossvolt.

I bought a Volt this year, but I am not going to claim it is better than a Leaf. It is just my preference. I am pleased that plug-ins did so well this year and look forward to seeing a lot more on the road in 2014. I expect Leaf sales to grow with more capacity and half expect GM to ramp up production of the Volt to keep up with the Leaf.

Silly fight between Volt and Leaf factions. In the end, they are different cars that appeal to different people.

Rick, that just shows your bias! LOL!
I think you are right really, but the two factions touting their own favorites horn amuses me, and I am just as guilty of doing it as a lot of the others.
Oh, that reminds me, my Volt is better because it has a really cool pedestrian horn that the Leaf doesn’t have! So there! 😉

This has been a great year for the Volt, but to be honest, GM did make some marketing mistakes this year that cost them sales. 1) They waited way too long after the Leaf dropped their price to lower the price of the Volt. 2) They delayed the roll-out of the 2014 model for too long, making people hold off on buying while wondering what the big deal was that GM kept delaying their announcement of the 2014 Volt. 3) With the lower 2014 base price, the discounts for 2013’s weren’t enough, and barely made up for the price difference when the 2014’s first came out. This held up 2013 sales when it turned out lots of folks could get better deals on 2014’s at certain dealerships, then they could get on 2013’s elsewhere. It wasn’t until GM later increased the 2013 discounts that they started clearing out. I do have concerns for the rest of this year. There has been way too much noise about a GEN 2 Volt, and not enough real official information. This uncertainty could weigh down 2014 Volt sales if potential buyers get stuck in a holding pattern hoping for good news about the 2015… Read more »

Leaf fans you gotta give congrats on the Volt for the most plug in sales this year. Keep in mind, there is a very good chance the Leaf is #1 next year. That’s not due to one car or the other being better. Leaf and Volt aren’t aren’t exactly direct competitors. While Ford and Toyota’s plug ins are very different than the Volt, I think they are closer competitors to the Volt than they are the Leaf. In terms of BEV choices our there, there is nothing else out there in the Leaf’s price range that is produced in significant numbers. I think going forward it will be easier for the Leaf to increase numbers than the Volt. It will get all shaken up again when (or if) the next generation of models come out from Nissan, GM and Tesla.

I really think the Ford C max energy is going to knock out and bury the Volt next year in that in the last month I have seen one to two new plug in C Max cars every week in parking lots and on the highway while I have not seen a volt in four months. Also there is rumors that Ford might cut the price of the C Max plug in by a few thousand dollars which could speed up demand for it. In that right now Ford has said they are planning on pricing the C Max to undercut the Prius C and the Prius plug in which could rewrite the rules in plug in cars.

What I find compelling is that the Tesla Model S is right up there with the others.

The Volt costs less than 30 K after the rebate. 35 K prior to the rebate.

The Model S starts at 70 K, 62.4 K after the rebate.

Here’s the rub, the general rule of thumb is double the price, cut the sales down by a factor of 4. The Model S sales more than half of the Volt sales.

Although this is kind of a moot point since Tesla was saying they are production constrained, we know there is a wait list for the Model S, but you can pick up a Volt or Leaf.

Kind of a bad arguement to say we sold more because the other guy can’t make enough and has a wait list.

Dan, I agree that the Model S had a very impressive year. I hope this continues, and I hope it helps them to execute there plans to build a less expensive, higher volume model. There is an aspect at the end of what you said that is not correct — the “wait list” isn’t quite a wait list. The reason most Tesla buyers will wait for a car is due to an intentional choice made by Tesla for how they want to sell cars. Have you ever stopped into a Tesla store and asked about how to get a car? Most people get a Tesla by custom ordering exactly what they want, and then the car will be built with those specifications. Tesla’s sales process is very different than other manufactures, and they don’t keep thousands of cars in inventory. They do keep a very low amount of inventory for displays cars to show to people who come into there stores. They currently have a couple hundred cars available nationwide at there stores for these purposes, and you can buy one now if you like. Unlike if you were to custom order a car, there is a discount on the… Read more »

Wow, I really need an edit button, as I clearly can’t type the word ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ half the time.

Nate, Actually I own a Model S, and am very aware of the wait list. I’m not exactly certain on how they allocate numbers, but it is definately odd. As an example, when i got mine, despite my number being lower than others I got mine a few weeks after people with higher numbers, it was because of a certain option I chose. Currently from chatter, it looks like for the 60 kwhr battery, you have to wait a few months, where as the P85, it’s only a few weeks. When you throw in production constrainment it is very hard to gauge exactly how many were sold. The other issue is GM/Nissan marking them as sold, but they are technically sold to the dealers, which is a little different then a customer sale. Tesla’s is a true customer sale Nissan/GM is a secondary seller sale (Kind of like saying US cadbury eggs had huge sales in december, that does not mean the every one was pigging out of them during that time. In order to actually get a good metric and make an apples to apples comparison You would have to find the days to turn metric for the Volt… Read more »

HI Dan,

“The other issue is GM/Nissan marking them as sold, but they are technically sold to the dealers, which is a little different then a customer sale.”

Not so sure about that. Hopefully Jay can chime in and confirm that the sales totals he reports each month / year are new car sales to registered owners, not the number on dealer lots. Also, typically dealers don’t own the cars, a flooring company does.

Dan that just isn’t true. The numbers being reported here are retail sales and leases to OWNERS not to dealers.

That’s one thing that is troubling me a bit. I was seriously interested in a Model S, but I didn’t like the Universal Mobile Connector that came with the car, and didn’t really need it since I have a permanently installed EVSE. I wanted to purchase the car without it. Also, where I live, it so happens I would never get any use out of their supercharger topology and therefore, would have liked the basic 60 kwh battery scheme where you can ‘opt out’ of supercharger compatibility, but you HAVE to take the facility with the 85 kwh battery, which I really wanted ( i really want 110 kwh but they don’t offer that – yet).

So here’s the question: Since every S is custom – made to order, why can’t I have at least the flexibility I had with my Roadster purchase?