It’s Official: Nissan LEAF Electric Car Now Leads U.S. Plug-in Sales Charts

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.

Nissan's 75,000th LEAF to be delivered in the U.S. Last month, total sales went over 76,000.

Nissan’s 75,000th LEAF to be delivered in the U.S. Last month, total sales went over 76,000.

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.

The upcoming all-new 2016 Chevrolet Bolt is certainly having a negative impact on sales of the outgoing first-generation 2015 Volt.

The upcoming all-new 2016 Chevrolet Bolt is certainly having a negative impact on sales of the outgoing first-generation 2015 Volt.

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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  • Chris Stanley

    I wonder when they are actually going to start teasing the next-gen Leaf? Looking forward to seeing how much better than my 2011 model it is.

  • CDspeed

    When going electric I guess more people wanted to free themselves completely from the pump, and preferred a true electric car. When I bought my i3 I was ready to go electric, and I was determined not to buy the REx because it wouldn’t have gotten me off petrol, and I do think that is the biggest point beind owning an electric car.

    • Yes I agree, I don’t understand why anyone likes a hybrid it’s like double your trouble in that, now you have old technology that can break as well a the new.

      • D. Harrower

        I was a huge fan of hybrids with they first started to appear about 10 years ago because I thought they would transition people to true EVs. Now they’ve served their purpose and OEMs are just dragging them out to use as “green cred” without needing to take the risk and spend the money to develop competitive EVs.

  • Funny people are starting to question if the new Volt is simply just a hybrid and not an electric range extended vehicle because of the way they’ve integrated the gas engine to the electric motors. They have it so that the engine actually takes assist in driving the electric motors at times and not just used as a generator.

    • MEroller

      The Volt has always had that highway mode in which the ICE was directly involved in the planetary gear system that the electric motors / generator use for turning the wheels: it helps reduce the electric motor RPM at cruise speeds in order to bring it back down into a more efficient RPM range, while helping to directly drive the wheels. So I am not really sure why there is all that plugin hybrid discussion about Volt II… It was a plugin hybrid from the outset, albeit with a higher focus on range extension than most other plugin hybrids do.

    • leptoquark

      I don’t see how it really matters anyway, since the mileage is what would count for me, and the Volt definitely gets high mileage. All my friends who drive Volts also love them. No matter what’s happening under the hood, mileage is mileage, dollars are dollars.

      • You’re right is doesn’t matter what’s underneath and I’m not saying the Volt shouldn’t exist. They still have to classify the car and it’s funny that’s it’s gone full circle from electric range extended back to hybrid.