The Volt gains on the LEAF, but both falter near the finish line

Sales of the Chevy Volt accelerated in November – over 1,100 units – even as sales of Nissan’s Leaf continued to sputter – 672 units for the month. 

 

Sales of the Chevy Volt accelerated in November – over 1,100 units – even as sales of Nissan’s Leaf continued to sputter – 672 units for the month. The Japanese team still leads the heat, 8,738 Leafs versus 6,142 Volts, but neither company looks likely to exceed their sales targets for the year (both set at 10,000).

Both companies are having good years overall. At GM, sales are up 7 percent compared with last year. One of several models posting double-digit sales increases was the Chevrolet Cruze, the Volt’s gas-powered (and far cheaper) cousin. GM has blamed part of the mediocre Volt sales on supply-chain bottlenecks. “You can’t sell ‘em if you don’t have ‘em,” GM North American President Mark Reuss told the Detroit Free Press in early November. The company plans to build 45,000 Volts for the US market in 2012.

Over at Nissan, overall sales are up 19 percent in 2011. “We expect to finish 2011 on a high note with vehicles like Altima, Versa, Sentra and Rogue leading Nissan to a strong close in December,” said Nissan VP Al Castignetti. No mention of the Leaf there, alas.

What’s it all mean? Not much. Even the most popular automobiles don’t rocket to prominence like boy bands. Toyota’s Prius took a decade, and a total redesign, to reach the million-unit milestone. And long before Leaf or Volt attains similar superstar status, a better and cheaper EV is likely to bump them both from the stage, perhaps even something built by Nissan or GM (see the Spark EV, due in 2013).

 

Image: General Motors