By on April 20, 2010

The EV smackdown is about to begin, as Nissan and GM prepare to launch their competing but different EVs in the final quarter of this year. It promises to be quite a show, as both manufacturers have gambled huge sums on distinctly different approaches. The Leaf is a pure battery EV, with an optimum range of 100 miles, but which will easily shrink into some 60 miles under less than ideal conditions. GM’s Volt’s target EV range is forty miles, also subject to the same diminishing influences. Of course, it carries a security blanket gen-set along for the ride. But the first skirmish for the hearts , minds, hands and wallets of consumers has already been decided, in the Leaf’s favor.

The website gm-volt.com was set up three years ago to create a waiting list for prospective Volt buyers. During those unbroken years of Volt cheer leading (no, they’re not responsible for the Volt dance though), the site has tallied 51k prospective buyers to its list. Today, gm-volt reluctantly reveals that the Nissan’s Leaf public reservation list as of today has 115k hand raisers in the US signed up, in just a few months. And as of today, Nissan will be accepting $99 reservation deposits too. Among other things, it probably helps if you know what the car is actually going to be priced at.

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29 Comments on “Nissan Leaf Wins The First EV Battle Against GM’s Volt...”


  • avatar

    All else equal (same price, both are real and not vaporware, etc.), if I had to choose between one of these penalty boxes, I’d choose the Volt for the flexibility. Nonetheless, I have a bit more confidence that the Leaf will actually be on the streets this year, well, a few of them anyway, but this is not going to be like autumn in New England.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    From what I have heard from the President of Nissan-Renault, they will install a Charging station in your Garage/Home for the Leaf, cost about $2500 per installation, so this has to be added to the vehicle cost, so no excuse if you don’t have a place to plug in!

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      I like the idea of both of these cars. I live in a high-rise and park underground. Since the garage attendants park for me, I don’t have a designated spot. So unless they can accommodate me somehow, the Leaf is a no-go. Nor can I plug it in while I’m at work. For what’s being called a “city car,” it is not proving to be suitable for the city at all. The Volt won’t work any better, but at least there is some flexibility with the extended range provided by the ICE so I won’t be left stranded if I want to use the radio, lights or turn signal in the winter. Plus, the Volt just seems like a more substantial vehicle. I foresee the Leaf being a colossal flop.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      No, I’m not sure if this is intentional FUD or what?…

      The $2500 charging station fee is if you want to charge your car using 220V (which halves the charge time), you can still charge with 110V from any American power outlet no problem.

      Also, out of the $2500, $2000 will be coming back via tax rebates if you invest in the 220V.

  • avatar
    adonasetb

    The Smart car also had a $99 program and a lot of good it did them – how many people that placed deposits were wanting their money back instead of purchasing the Smart????? Let’s not count this a victory until actual sales can be tallied.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I foresee the Leaf being a colossal flop.

    Do you think they expect to outsell the Camry?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I foresee the Leaf being a colossal flop.

    I foresee it being a success.

    I suspect people with range anxiety (e.g. those who can’t work a hand held calculator and don’t know how far they drive) simply won’t buy one. That will leave just the people who don’t drive far, know it, and realize that 60 miles or so of range is more than enough.

    There is a huge desire to be green, but in addition I think people will like the quiet.

    I won’t be getting a Leaf, as they are a bit pricey for me. But it certainly suits my needs.

    Of course there is a question of how green I’d be driving a Leaf, given that it would be recharged from power produced by coal.

  • avatar
    Dasher

    I don’t see either one of them being profitable. They will fill a niche market which is pretty small segment of the total market for vehicles.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I signed up for the Leaf notices, but I won’t be sending any money.

    These vehicles will serve different purposes, but IMO the Volt’s range-extending capability nullifies its economy. Why pay $32-40k for a compact car that gets conventional fuel economy on the highway?

    • 0 avatar
      Rusted Source

      Don’t worry, GM is allowed to have it both ways.

      They are currently touting that their GM Terrain gets better highway mileage than an Escape Hybrid (which is of course ridiculous considering they’d be demolished by comparing the city values). When it comes to the Volt though, they’ll just forgo all this ‘highway’ talk and focus on the city savings.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Doesn’t Nissan realize that GM talked up the Volt as a game changer and company saver? How dare they take any of the lime light.

    As if there won’t be a slew of other EV competitors and most with better quality reputations than GM.

  • avatar
    Rusted Source

    I believe that many of the folks that had their EV1’s reclaimed by GM were none too pleased about it. They loved their little pure EVs.

    Imagine how much more refined the Leaf will be all these years later. Should be a hit for at least a few years.

  • avatar
    davejay

    Just dropped my refundable $99, and signed up for a free charger installation. Disappointed to see that the only available interior remains white, presumably to ease the A/C load — my kids won’t let it stay white for long. Other than that, so far, so good.

  • avatar
    vento97

    Nissan 1, Vaporware 0

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Has the Leaf been independently tested somewhere? Anywhere? My cursory search of the Interwebs netted me a couple controlled tests, a’la similar to the access the media has had with the Volt. As far as I’m concerned it’s still zeros. The only difference is Nissan is making a little money, $99 at a time.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      vento97, Jimal: You are both right. I have to admit that I haven’t seen a lot of independent testing of the Leaf yet. However, Nissan has more credibility than GM, IMO.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    We shouldn’t forget the people who want and perhaps must have a Leaf.

    Israel is surrounded by oil but doesn’t want to be dependent on oil from their neighbors, Hawaiians are afraid of oil tankers anywhere near their beaches, the people in Beijing would like to be able to breath again, and how much do the people in Denmark pay for gas now.

    I have a simple cobbled together electric bike and love it. Off the line quiet startup torgue of an electric motor is wonderful to feel.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I applaud Nissan for building the Leaf but sign me up for a Volt. I wouldn’t call them competitors. GM also has a pure EV in the works. The Volt supposedly gets 50 MPG in generator mode but we’ll see.

    I hope both the Volt and Leaf sell well. I plan to buy a Volt in the spring after the hype has died down a little and in another 2-4 years buy another electric car and retire the Tahoe as a tow/long trip vehicle only.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Of course more people are interested in the Leaf – it’s cheaper. And if 115,000 people are REALLY ready to put their hard earned money on the line to buy this car, I’m the Pope.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The Leaf will probably outsell GM’s old EV1, but not by all that much :).

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    Well, Toyota seems to still be selling 7 or 8 thousand Prius’s a month in the USA (link below). And I have to think all these folks who have been driving Prius’s aren’t as likely to be afraid of an EV. With an oil shock or something, they could pull it off, but I don’t see 100K Leafs on the road otherwise the first year. I’m very interested in one, but I like to wait for the second year of something being out so those initial hinks are worked out.

    http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/document/February_10_Sales_Chart.pdf

  • avatar
    wsn

    EV Battle?

    The Volt has an ICE. It’s a hybrid, and an unsuccessful hybrid so far.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      GM sure seems to be positioning it as an electric car, for example, chevrolet.com says

      Volt is an electric car that uses gas to create its own electricity. Plug it in, let it charge overnight, and it’s ready to run on a pure electric charge for up to 40 miles(3) — gas and emissions free.

      http://www.chevrolet.com/pages/open/default/future/volt.do

  • avatar
    nonce

    Nissan was supposed to reveal warranty information by the 20th. Did that happen?

  • avatar

    @LectroByte: The Volt is advertised as an EREV not an EV, it’s an Extended Range Electric Vehicle. At no time does the ICE connect directly to the powertrain. The ICE is used as a generator to produce a charge for the battery. The Volt is on a flexible platform that can not only support many different types of vehicles but can also support several different generators be it Internal combustion, Propane, diesel or hydrogen. As new technologies develop and become usable they can just be plugged into the platform. With the Volt you never have to worry about going on a trip outside pure EV range and stopping to charge or having to have a second vehicle for day trips.

    Also the Volt was never advertised as the car that will save GM that was the media hyping that. GM knows that the Volt won’t be a big money maker or even break even in the 1st generation. Before bashing GM, Toyota lost money on the 1st gen Prius as well. It wasn’t till almost the 3rd gen where they really started bringing in profit from it.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    Thanks, but I’m only quoting chevy’s web site, haven’t seen any advertising for Volts. Seen a few Leaf ads, though.


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