Ever since the 2011 Nissan LEAF electric hatchback and the 2011 Chevrolet Volt went on sale within a week of one another in December 2010, there’s been an ongoing fight between the two cars to see which is America’s most popular plug-in car.
For the majority of the four years since, the Chevrolet Volt has had the advantage on the LEAF, with the LEAF only occasionally snatching the lead. But as many in the automotive industry successfully predicted at the end of February — when the LEAF was just two units behind the Volt in overall sales figures — the LEAF has drawn ahead of the Volt in the running U.S. plug-in sales totals by a healthy 1,176 vehicles.
And that means, for the first time since February 2012, the Nissan LEAF is the most popular plug-in car in the U.S.
According to Nissan’s official monthly sales total, a total of 1,817 LEAFs were sold during March, which is actually a 27.5 percent reduction compared to the 2,507 LEAFs sold during March 2014.
But while Nissan’s LEAF year to date sales totals are down by 21.2 percent over the same period last year, the LEAF’s sales figures were enough to beat the dramatic drop in sales over at Chevrolet.
With GM now in pre-production runs for the all-new, second-generation 2016 Chevrolet Volt, sales of the outgoing 2015 Chevrolet Volt have understandably fallen off the metaphorical cliff. Last month, only 639 Volts were sold nationwide across the U.S., versus 1,478 cars sold in March 2014, a drop of 56.6 percent. Year to date, Volt sales are 48 percent lower than they were this time last year.
As you’ll remember, Nissan celebrated selling its 75,000th LEAF last month. Yesterday’s official sales figures now demonstrate that Nissan has sold a total of 76,407 LEAFs in the U.S. since December 2010. Chevrolet meanwhile, has sold 75,231 cars.
As Sebastian Blanco over at Autobloggreen notes, “while the two vehicles aren’t direct competitors (one’s a pure EV and the other is a plug-in hybrid), they certainly dominate the plug-in vehicle sales charts.” And while the Volt is dramatically and quickly falling behind the LEAF for now — and will continue to do so until the all-new Volt starts arriving at dealerships this August — we suspect the roles will soon be reversed as new customers flock to the brand-new 2016 Chevy Volt and would-be LEAF owners wait it out a little while longer for the next-generation LEAF.
Due some time in the next year or so, the all-new LEAF, like the shortly-arriving 2016 Volt, is rumored to be more mainstream and less geeky than its sibling, with a much larger all-electric range than the current model. While the car has yet to receive its official unveiling, we know for sure that its impending unveiling is certainly likely to affect sales from this point onwards.
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