Chevy Volt Outsells Nissan Leaf In October, Breaks 5,000 Total Sales


Has the Chevy Volt’s time finally come? Could be, as reports are now filtering in the GM’s plug-in hybrid has, for the first time, outsold the Nissan Leaf in monthly sales. But can GM still hit its goal of 10,000 Volt sales by the end of 2011?EV Sales Battle Heat Up

Last month GM managed to move 1,108 Chevy Volts to Nissan’s 849 Leafs, outpacing the Japanese EV for the first time since sales began last December. The Leaf has consistently led the Volt in sales, leading many sales and poltical pundits to already call the Volt a flop and a failure.

What many of them failed to take into account was that GM was shipping many Volt’s to dealers that could not sell them for six months. These demo cars are serving to draw in new customers into Chevy dealerships, and many Volt buyers are trading in cars like the Toyota Prius. I also wonder if the $1,000 price cut helped draw in any additional customers as well.

More importantly though, the Chevy Volt is on sale in every corner of the country, rather than a select few states. The nationwide rollout of the Volt began in June, but the factory was offline for three weeks in July for retooling, and then a number of Volts went out as dealer demos. So it seems as though Volt sales are finally catching up to where GM wants them to be.

This ought to provide a huge boost to sales versus the Nissan Leaf, which is still on available in a limited number of areas. Nissan is also transitioning from 2011 to 2012 models of the Leaf which, in addition to a price bump, gets a new standard Level 3 charger and Cold Weather package.

Who Will Win The EV War?

However, the real test comes when both the Volt and Leaf are available nationwide. The Volt seems to be picking up steam, but Leaf sales, despite being limited for a select few areas, are still well ahead of GM’s plug-in hybrid. To date, GM has sold just over 5,000 Volts to Nissan’s 8,048 Leafs in 2011. So it seems unlikely that either automaker will meet their estimated first-year sales totals.

On the same token, even I am surprised by the recent sales surge from both vehicles. 2012 is already shaping up to be a promising year for plug-in vehicles, and there will be even more contenders by this time next year.

Has the Volt finally come into its own? Who will finish ahead in 2011? And what does 2012 hold for these two plug-in pioneers?

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Jim

    “But can GM still hit its goal of 10,000 Volt sales by the end of 2011?”

    I thought GM wanted to have produced 10,000 by year end as the goal? It would be great though if they did hit that for sales.

    My local dealer finally got the Volt. Now I need to convince the wife the benefits of an EV Hybrid…

    • Jim,

      Based on my research, you are exactly correct.

      The stated goal was to PRODUCE 10,000 units in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012. It looks to me that they will hit that number.

      Here is the link from a GM press release from March that refers to the goal:

      • Ziv

        The goal as stated by GM has always, I believe, been to ‘produce’ 10,000 Volts, and they have already produced 3,000 2011 Volts this year and they have painted just over 9,000 2012’s, which is when the VIN is assigned. So when the last of the 9,000 already built go from the paint shack to the parking lot at Hamtramck (2 weeks from now? 3?) they will already have produced more than 10,000. I don’t think they have built more than 1,000 Amperas which are mixed in among the VIN’s so GM might be up to 11,000 or 12,000 Volt produced by New Years Eve. They were building 1300 a week back in September, if memory serves, but the tempo has dropped to about 870 per week late this month. But this is pretty unscientific, I just search for the highest VIN assigned to a car, whether it is already completed or just got the VIN when it was painted but unfinished. And I only search 3 cities I randomly selected so it could be way off.

        8/1 – C440 – building around 150 per week (first 100 were test cars)
        8/23 – C1736 – building around 420 per week
        09/1 – C3032 – building around 500 per week
        10/3 – C4260 – around 273 per week for Sept
        10/17 – C6992 – around 1366 for each of the first 2 weeks of Oct
        10/25 – C8129 – around 995 for the third week of Oct
        11/1 – C8996 – around 873 for the fourth week of Oct

  • Skip Siemon

    Electic Vehicle are powered mostly by electricity generated by coal plants & stored in poisonous batteries with a 5-year life cycle. I know that OPEC controls gas prices, but who will control the electric company that, in many cases, is a monopoly? and our energy grid can’t support a whole lot of EV charging.

    America is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. Why aren’t we exploiting this cheap, clean energy?

    • UCSBcpa

      Hey Skip!

      Try living in California, where nearly 50% of our energy comes from zero emissions! – Solar, Wind, Geothermal will be at 20% by end of Q1 next year, with nuclear and hydro filling in the other 30%. Every day my electric vehicle is cleaner and cleaner and cleaner! Name a car that can say that!

    • Skip several thoughts.

      First I can make my own electricity, solar shingles for example, but try making gasoline, or even pure ethanol and I think you will find it is not really possible.

      Then electricity is far cheaper than gasoline. I can and have driven my electric car 200 miles in a day on just over $4 of electricity. That is far cheaper than I can drive any of my gasoline cars including our Prius.

      Finally even if powered by 100% coal the electric drivetrain is far more efficient than a gas motor so the CO2 is still less than our state of the art Prius. The good think is the % of electricity from coal is now under 40% and dropping. Hydro, nuclar, solar and wind are emmision free.

      Finally do some searching and I think you will find it takes about 7 KWH of energy to refine a gallon of gasoline. So my electric car actually uses less electricity than the average gasoline car.

      Not sure about you but I would much rather buy American made power than imported oil.

    • T Adkins

      Well Skip,
      It is true that about 50% of our electricity is from coal, but as we move from coal to other energy production that has a chance at changing. Batteries from automakers are currently given a 7-10year warranty, which is there way of saying they insure the battery for that long. Batteries can have poisonous materials in them like lead but they are contained in the batteries and batteries are 97-99% recycled and recyclable in the US. Coal, oil and natural gas are also poisonous and a lot of the poisons from them are air borne or end up in the water, where in batteries they aren’t airborne.

      As far as OPEC it is a price setting cartel, I say price setting because demand for oil is lower now and supply is high but the price is still high going against supply and demand so being artificially held at a high price. Also with the OPEC vs home energy, coal is from here mined here made here paid for here so the money mostly stay in the US, money going to OPEC or even Canada is leaving the US, monies that could be spent here on jobs here instead of leaving here and benefiting another country. Power companies are heavily regulated and are only allow to make so much more in profit annually.

      If you want to pull away from the ‘power monopoly’ install solar for heating and/or electricity, thus taking your power back from them and maybe even saving or earning you money from them. You could also buy an EV just to store off peak power and in an emergency use the car for power as they just did with the EVs in Japan after the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear event there recently. Speaking of off peak power most EVs are charged during that time where there isn’t as much demand for that power. Car and power companies have both looked into it and even if over night 25% of the cars on the road became EV the grid would be fine.

      As far as the US being a Saudi Arabia of gas this is true, but not too long ago up until the 70’s oil crisis the US was the Saudi Arabia of oil, we have been on a very long oil down slide since then. And TRUST me in this we are exploiting the F*CK out of natural gas, we could do more and we are working on it.

      We will enjoy that cheap, clean(er than oil and coal) natural gas for some time to come.

    • Fred

      First of all skip, it is far more efficient to have a coal or gas powered plant charging 1000 vehicles than having 1000 gas powered vehicles. That fact alone completely destroys this stupid “you still have to pollute with electric vehicles” nonsense. You have to pollute MUCH less and of course there are alternative ways to generate electricity which will become more pervasive in the future. So it just makes sense to start making the transition now.

      Regarding the batteries, you can recycle batteries, you cannot recycle CO2 emissions. Mmmmok?!

      I wish people would better educate themselves before making these baseless arguments.

      • People making the argument you are (very articulately!) combating have shut off their brains long ago. For them, there’s Texas, Fox News, and the WWE. Let them have that, and be more productive by pushing forward instead of pushing back. Also: great Mr. Mackey line!!

        • fred

          I know that skip is not interested in an intellectually honest debate hence the tone which you describe as ‘combative’. It’s not different than people who yell at their dog when the dog does something stupid. It makes them feel like they are accomplishing something but deep down they know the dog will continue with the instinctive behaviour due to lack of any sort of ability to use logic. In the case of the human, it’s more an issue of lazy brain. They are not used to using it so they would rather just blather out stuff they heard on Faux Noise.

          • I would think it took MORE effort to believe some of the insane things I’ve heard from “my party’s” candidates in recent years. I actually hide my GOP registration card now, when I used to carry it around with me. They have seriously lost touch with reality.

          • Justa Joe

            What is a “GOP registration card” ? The RNC doesn’t pass out “registration” cards, and I don’t think Cook county passes out voter registration cards designating one’s party affiliation. How would anyone know if you were carrying this imaginary card anyway?

            Anyway seeing as your every other utterance is directed at trashing Tea Party people, Palin, Texans, GOP “puppet” groups, and Republicans in general the card thing was just a lie unless you’re taking RINO-ism to heretofore unheard of extremes.

    • Nixon

      What part of a Lithium Ion battery is poisonous? The Lithium isn’t. In fact people take Lithium on purpose for it’s medical values. The electrolyte isn’t. You can drink the electrolyte, as one EV manufacture’s CEO does in public just to prove it. In fact, far from being poisonous, they aren’t even considered hazardous waste:

      “Lithium Ion batteries are classified by the federal (U.S.) government as non-hazardous waste and are safe for disposal in the normal municipal waste stream.” The funny thing, is that while you CAN dispose of the battery in normal municipal waste, you CAN’T do that with the gas motor in the Chevy Volt! It’s actually the gasser section of the Volt that has to be disposed of specially under EPA regulations.

      I think you’ve confused EV batteries found in the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt with the lead paint you’ve been licking off of your walls. That’s what’s poisonous.

      • T Adkins

        There are other battery technologies that I believe were being implied by the post, mostly the lead acid and NiMH types. As most of the current Hybrids on the market have a nickel metal hydride battery, many believe that as a hybrid the volt uses a similar battery.



    Actually the battery in the Volt has a 100k mile/8 year warranty. Even after over 100k miles it will still provide 70-80% of it’s original capacity, not sure where you’re getting the 5-year life cycle from? Electricity may come from coal but it’s still way cheaper to charge up at home then fill up at the pump. The Volt only draws 8-12amps from a 120V plug to charge, about as much as running a window A/C unit or small space heater. How exactly is this too much for the energy grid to handle?

    Get your facts straight before hating on electric cars

    • Gary Roberts

      I didn’t know what the battery life of the Volt was, but I do know that GM plans to recycle or refurbish used batteries. While coal is a major means of creating electricity by utility companies, windmill and solar are becoming available at lower costs. GM and other companies are using solar panels to supplement power needs and GM reportedly uses only solar to charge Volts produced at the Hamtramck plant.

      • True – regarding the cost of solar, it’s amazing that coal and fossil are still price-competitive. You can credit that to MASSIVE subsidies.

    • Phil

      California’s grid already has rolling blackouts (occuring on at least three different occasions in Jan, March, August this year alone), so unless the EV’s never need charged during the day you may not be able to recharge. The subsidies for fossil fuel are about $10 billion/year, or between one and 1.5%. The subsidy for solar is 30% on the customer end, and even with $500 million on top of that Solyndra couln’t produce a price effective product.
      It looks like Skip is the one with the active, informed brain.

      • Your numbers are way, WAY off – the subsidies for fossil fuels are over 600 billion – 6000% MORE than the tiny 10 bil you tossed up there, and that does NOT include indirect subsidies like the gov’t securing oil supply and forcibly stabilizing costs (via the US Armed Forces occupying several oil-supplying countries to the tune of TRILLIONS). Honestly, I get it – if I had no idea how much oil was subsidized I’d probably think you had something worthwhile to add here. Check out some of the links/sources on this article ( and get back to us, if you like – otherwise, you may want to stick to passively absorbing propaganda getting your news from Fox.

        • Justa Joe

          ” …the subsidies for fossil fuels are over 600 billion – 6000% MORE than the tiny 10 bil you tossed up there,”

          Jo, you’re wrong Phil is right. So-called fossil fuel subsidies are about $8 – 10 BILLION/year In the USA. So called renewables are subsidized at a far greater level than fossil fuels are subsidized in the USA. Your link is from an IEA report which is essentially refering to global “subsidies.” The report is just an advocacy piece anyway. The report’s methodolgy is garbage in terms of how they arrive at what a subsidy is.

          Jo, you’re going to have to come to terms with the truth. Fossil fuels are not NET subsidized. Let’s take gasoline for example. The govt makes more profit on this product than the producers make. $.40 – $.50 on a gallon of gas is govt excise taxes. 375 million gallons are used per day. This doesn’t include licenses, income taxes, etc paid. Fossil fuels in fact subsidize the government. If the govt lost this source of revenue they’d have to recoup through other forms of taxation.

          So-called oil subsidies are Tax Code. There are myriad tax write offs, asset depreciation, and tax breaks that every business/industry has. The only reason it even approaches the $10 billion that people like to throw around is because of the sheer volume of receipts and taxes involved in the oil industry.

          The “renewable” industries, however, are heavily subsidized. They couldn’t exist without DIRECT CASH GRANTS from the govt, set asides and regulations favorable to them, govt guaranteed loans, and, of course, tax breaks. If we look at the federal subsidies for fuels by the actual ratio of of energy delivered. Solar and Wind energy are absolutely off the charts in terms of their level of subsidization.

          Here is a review of the EIA subsidy report. The EIA is an actual department of the USA govt unlike the IEA.

      • T Adkins

        The whole Solyndra thing is funky but they raised over $1.7billion from private investors and only $500million was government insured, yes the company failed but that has more to do with questionable trade practices from China(every EU and USA solar manufacturer is looking to take legal action over it) than from a bad business model. Most of that money will be paid back bankruptcy doesn’t mean we won’t get paid back, they have a full built factory with nice neat new machinery, plus an older factory, and really nice patents. GOP and some news groups are making far too big a deal about this. When tax payer money went to bail out banks and those same failing bank then used that part of that money to give their executive billions in bonuses they didn’t care about it as much as this Solyndra thing. We are wasting time lives and tax dollars on 2 wars, we pay over $20 billion just on air conditioning for the war effort but we care about Solyndra more. Sad state of affairs.

  • Solar_Dave

    I will soon have two Chevy Volts and charge both of them off our solar setup. I find that driving for FREE is a great incentive for my coming retirement. Telling OPEC to FO is gratifiying, not burning coal is a great side benefit.

    • LOL! Nothing beats telling the price-fixing OPEC b45+4rds to explore their various orifices with sharp and menacing objects as a side benefit! If we had a “Comment of the Day” , this would be it! Thanks for making me smile.

  • StephenB

    I was notified yesterday that my Volt has shipped, and it was number 8729. It seems to me that GM will have no trouble meeting the 10k figure this year.

  • GM rules!

    Quick! There are only 3560 of them left for sale so get one while you can folks!

    My delaler has been sitting on 5 of them for months and is now offering 9 thousand dollars off 2011’s and 6000 off 2012’s. That’ll sell them!

    • Those discounts mesh nicely with the rebates on those cars. Rebates are not the same as discounts.

    • Fred

      That would be because those are demos that the dealerships cannot sell for at least 6months. Got it or do I need to spell it out in cheetos?

  • ken

    Is it just me, but do these numbers sound pathetic? Barely over 5,000 Volts, compared to millions of cars in America? Why is the EV industry moving at molasses speed?

    • @ ken

      Actually, its better sales than many vehicles you are probably more familiar with, including Lincolns, Audi’s, and BMW’s.

    • T Adkins

      For a car that has only been available nationwide since June, averaging sales of 800 cars a month for the past 11 months for just 1 make and model of car. It looks more like supply is just keeping up with current demand. When in this article they mention that Volt moved 1100 cars this month to beat out the 850 Leaf’s to put Volt ahead for 1st time in months. Sounds like both cars a having great sales. Then we also have Tesla is getting ready to move 6500 cars @ $70k a pop. It is looking like a good year for the EV market.


  • Jim Young

    I am a Republican and listen to Fox news. I have a Volt on order.

    Is there someone in a cubical next to Skip that can slap him upside the head?

  • Former Caddy Owner

    Wow … even when the Volt outsells the leaf, people slam it. I call that a no-win situation. I won’t do the usual defend my Volt thing because it falls on deaf ears.

    To those who are thinking of buying one:
    my Kill A Watt meter (great tool … you should buy one!) tells me that the people who slam the poor mileage the volt gets when the heater and lights and wipers run were correct.

    My mileage dropped from the equivalent of 130 mpg to only 114 mpg, (city driving, always plugged in). So, if you are disappointed by those numbers, you should stay away.

    By the way, the owners manual recommends that the car should be plugged in at all times. Per the Kill A Watt meter, when the car is fully charged, 3.2 watts are used to maintain the charge and of course, heat loss through the cord, etc. About 9 cents for 312 hours. Depends on where you live.

    I love my Volt. I have only had it for 6 weeks and it has saved me about $210 in gas per my Kill A Watt. Admittedly, I am driving a lot because I love cruising around in my awesome car. When that wears off, the numbers will fall, but I will still be saving more than $1,000 a year on gas.

    THAT INCLUDES THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY! In less than 7 years, my final cost will be under $25,000. So why buy?

    The average American puts out more than 6 tons of crap a year.

    Full EV’s put out 9 lbs. Please don’t answer with the argument that power stations put out crap. We all know that. But … Oil has to be drilled, causing emissions. It then has to be shipped, causing emissions. It then has to be refined, causing emissions. It then has to be trucked to the local gas station, causing emissions. So the argument of emissions before the fact are valid on both sides. I am comparing 2 vehicles only.

    The Volt is not 100% EV, but I have only 8% gas miles on my odometer. I feel good about that!

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  • Justa Joe

    I get this site now. I was wondering why it had so much shamelessly presented mis-information and why it is so partisan politically.

    A little research revealed that it is a privately owned site. The owner also owns a Solar Outfit and is a big Democrat Contributor (is there any other kind?)