By on July 5, 2012

Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at our favorite automotive urination competition, the epic battle between the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius Plug-In.

Chevrolet emerged as July’s victor, as well as the year-to-date champion. With 1,760 Volts sold in June, the General is leading the plug-in sales stakes with 8,817 units sold in the first six months of 2012. Still not the kind of volumes that GM was hoping for. In second was the Toyota Prius Plug-In, with 695 units sold in June and 4,347 in the first half of 2012. The Nissan Leaf finished third, with 535 sold in June, and 3,148 cumulatively.

Nissan is blaming a marketing mishap for the Leaf’s slow sales. Rather than selling them directly to customers via a waiting list, the cars can now be bought off the lot, and a Nissan spokesman told Bloomberg that they “…miscalculated the marketing that had to go behind it.” The Volt, on the other hand, seems to have from a boost in sales in California, now that the car can be driven in the HOV lane without a passenger.

Regardless of the surrounding factors, adoption of plug-in cars is growing, albeit at a slower than anticipated pace. Chevrolet dealers still had a 90 day supply of Volts on June 1st, and breakdowns for the Prius Plug-In and Leaf weren’t available at time of publication. Leaf sales are down 69 percent year-over-year and 19 percent versus the first half of 2011. The Volt, of course, is doing much better.

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26 Comments on “Plug-In Car Sales Breakdown: June 2012...”


  • avatar
    cwp

    “The Volt, on the other hand, seems to have from a boost in sales in California, now that the car can be driven in the HOV lane without a passenger.”

    That’s quite a bonus if your commute is through certain parts of California. Back when I lived in the Bay Area, I probably would have been willing to pay at least $2-3,000 for an HOV tag, or, more to the point, pay that much extra for a car that came with one.

    Maybe more. That might sound crazy, but we’re talking about shaving 20-40 minutes off my daily commute, which adds up to a lot of extra time at home over the course of a year.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      There are few ways, in this world, to buy time. The value of this taxpayer-provided support is almost literally priceless.

      Well, actually, we can put a price on this…
      Let’s say that the typical Volt owner makes $100K per year. That’s about 50 bucks/hour. If he saves 40 mins/day, that’s about 250 work days * .667 * labor rate = about $8K. I believe the sticker lasts for 2 or 3 years, so it’s worth $16-24K. Figure in the $7.5k rebate and the $40K Volt is getting $7.5K + 16K or about $23.5K in taxpayer support… plus any state and local givebacks.

      Not bad. One wonders how many they could sell if they stopped sending Volts to Minneapolis to gather dust on dealer lots.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    This is perhaps something of an endorsement of GM’s vision for the Volt… an EV that runs on gas when the gas runs out. However, the slow sales elsewhere in the country reveal that It’s Not Ready For Prime Time. It’s too expensive and too compromised in capacity and Dead Battery Fuel Economy.

    The Prius PHV has a huge advantage over the Volt in CA because it is the bargain entry point to the HOV lanes. I’d expect that Prius PHV sales are low because they just don’t have that many available. It will be interesting to see if inventory figures bear that out.

    The Prius PHV did outsell the Volt in its second month, which suggest that price is extremely important but maybe it was just the first rush of people who have wanted something like this for a long time but don’t trust a solution from GM.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Actually, that “bargain” really doesn’t exist.

      The Prius Plug “base” (the base model, not what it is called) is $32,760 after delivery. It is eligible for a $2,500 government hand out, giving it a base price of $30,260.

      The Chevy Volt is $39,995 after delivery and is eligible for a $7,500 government hand out, giving it a base price of $32,495.

      The extra $2,235 gives you:

      More than double the electric range (15 miles versus 38, EPA rated), you get more equipment over the relatively stripped base model Prius, and you get a longer warranty. You also get a vehicle that drives more like a “car,” however that point is probably largely lost on buyers in this segment.

      If I go with a Prius Plug-In Advanced, the price after delivery and the only available factory option (paint) is $40,505. After a $2,500 government handout the price drops to $38,005.

      If I get a Volt and add the Diamond tri-coat paint, rear camera and park assist, premium trim package, 17″ sport alloy rims, navigation, and premium Bose audio system, (every factory option with the most expense paint and rim option on the tick sheet) the price is $46,265. The price after $7,500 government hand out is $38,765.

      The Toyota doesn’t have much of a price advantage when you do the math. If you simply eliminate the sport alloy rims or the diamond tri-coat paint, the loaded Volt becomes the same price (with rims) or cheaper (with the paint, which is a $995 option).

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        That “stripped” Prius you’re referring to includes a navigation system.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @KixStart

        There are two “tiers” of navigation – the basic unit gets a “basic” navigation solution, the Advanced gets the upgraded system.

        Readily admit nav is nav but a cut down version does have limited benefits (I can’t find specific information on the Prius Plug-In site on the difference between “Nav” and “Premium HDD Navigation with Entune®, Plug-in Hybrid Applications [8] and JBL®”

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        The word on priuschat.com is that the “basic NAV” is better than the “Premium HDD Navigation with Entune®, Plug-in Hybrid Applications [8] and JBL®”

        Seriously the lower nav is better than the so called upgaded nav.

        Also you mention the difference in EV range but don’t mention that its a straight trade off between EV range and gas MPG after range is depeleted. The one with more EV range gets worse MPG, the one with less EV range gets better MPG.

        It’d be nice if the Plug in Prius had two battery sizes to choose from for people that want more EV range but given the choice between Prius and Volt I’d take Prius.

        You get better MPG on the 15″ rims so I’d be fine there as well.

        All in all the Prius has more features than any other car I’ve ever bought so I don’t feel like it’s lacking.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The mpg on the Volt when the battery runs out is not bad at all.. and in any case most people dont drive far enough to do that.

        For city driving get yourself a Volt or Prius, for highway get a Passat TDI, just make sure you dump it when the warranty runs out on the diesel :)

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    In my hood (Chicago suburb), I’ve recently seen an explosion of Volts on the streets. Last weekend, I saw 4 different ones in 3 hours. If the local Chevy dealer I drive past every day is any indication, they have a -3 day supply of them. I think they will only get more popular as people see them in the wild and realize they won’t burn to death.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      I googled “explosion of Volts” and it took me here.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I live a couple of hours of empty cornfields away from Chicago and wanted to test drive a Volt the other day. But, alas, the sales-lady called to say that they’d sold their last Volt over the weekend. Volts are sold out in my town.

      So it appears that they’ve sold at least two Volts in my town, since a guy I know bought one a few months ago.

      I drove the Leaf and came away with an irrational love for that happy little commuter car. I need to drive the Volt, the C-Max Energi, and the Focus EV in order to make an informed decision, though.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      There are two Volts in the parking lot at work, which is rather impressive since there are only about 500 cars and most are not new.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I live 25 miles south-east of boston and there’s been a ton of volt sightings lately. It’s almost up to one per day.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Let’s crunch the numbers a bit more. The Volt averaged 1470 units per month so far this year, so June sales are up almost 300 units above average despite gas prices taking a big dip, that’s pretty interesting. Of course, fleet sales may be a factor. Prius averaged 725 per month, so June is under by 30 units. Leaf averaged 524, June is 11 over.

  • avatar
    early

    If anyone was watching the Olympic trials on Sunday night, the volt gets the gold for most annoying over-exposed commercials.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Don’t kid yourselves with trying to use logic and rational thought for considering the factors in the purchase of an electric vehicle. There’s no logical reason to buy one. There are lots of emotional reasons to buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      The Corvette is like that, too. In fact, any luxury car is like this. Strangely, nobody points this out with the regularity that we hear this of hybrids.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Very true, and guilty as charged.

        There is no logical or rational reason to buy a 3-series when a Corolla will get you there just fine. But you won’t ever hear anyone on the B&B complain about the emotional reasons for buying something with the BMW roundel on it (or the Porsche shield, or the Audi rings, or the Lexus L, or the Mercedes…)

        Actually, in a bit of an ironic twist just the opposite applies. You’ll hear plenty of, “why would anyone do that,” when buying something with the Buick Shields, even if said shielded vehicle is cheaper and better (say Verano versus ILX). Buick – ew-ick! Give me a can opener equipped Acura set of calipers because – well – it’s emotional OK!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Secret Hi5

        I strongly believe that emotional “reasons” SHOULD be a factor in choosing what car to buy. If not, then everyone would be driving the same sensible vehicles in each class.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        You’ve gotta look at what other irrational car the person was planning on buying, in order to really assess whether a hybrid or EV would make sense.

        When my wife bought her Prius, she was cross-shopping it with some sort of beastly Volvo sedan. The Prius was cheaper, and got way better gas mileage. And it’s been super-reliable. So it started out as a financial win and has been saving her (and us) money and time ever since.

        I start a new job in a few weeks that comes with a big raise. Boring people in my situation with my background would buy a 3-series. I probably won’t buy anything but, if I do, it’ll be something with a plug — because I’m geeky enough to think an electric car’s coolness is self-evident, and I’m also concerned about the side-effects of gasoline consumption.

        Also, I drove the Leaf and loved it for completely irrational reasons. It costs almost as much as that 3-series, but it’s way cooler and way less conformist. The geeky/green image sure doesn’t hurt anything, either.

        But I fully admit that, if I were to buy/lease a Leaf, it would be an irrational decision. I don’t care.

        P.S. The Prius has settled down to being a mid-priced midsized (inside) car with great reliability and great MPGs. It’s not the cheapest car on the market, and it’s certainly not the most fun car on the market — but it does inhabit a sweet spot as an AtoB car for long-term ownership.

    • 0 avatar

      As others have pointed out, most car purchases involve a lot of emotion. For electrics, however, that is compounded in a good way because of the fact that EVs allow the driver to get from point A-B without all the massively negative aspects of internal combustion. No war or military actions needed to generate electricity. All of your energy money stays local, and costs 80% less than gasoline or diesel. Virtually no maintenance required. Allows you to use 100% renewable energy so there is no environmental impact from driving the car.

      These can be considered emotional reasons, and they are definitely good reasons, for buying an EV.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    For me it’s somewhat ridiculous to even compare the PIP to a Volt. With a charged battery the Volt is a no-compromise EV. Throw it into sport mode, pin up to 80 MPH and it won’t burn a drop of gas. I can back a PIP out of my driveway with a charged battery and make it burn gas before I reach the end of my block. That’s becasue the PIP is nothing more than your regular Prius with a bigger battery. Meaning unlike the Volt, it doesn’t haven’t beef in it’s electric motors to propel the car under most driving situations.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    If nothing else, Lutz was right about one thing: the Volt has brought GM back to the table. It doesn’t matter which side of the debate one is on, the Volt has turned conversation back to GM and their technical prowess.
    I am silently hoping that they gambled correctly and this does not turn out to be a 6-6-4 or Oldsmobile diesel debacle of 30 years ago.

    And there is no reason to buy a plug in electric – yet. There was no reason to buy a horseless carriage in 1898 either.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    If nothing else, Lutz was right about one thing: the Volt has brought GM back to the table. It doesn’t matter which side of the debate one is on, the Volt has turned conversation back to GM and their technical prowess.
    I am silently hoping that they gambled correctly and this does not turn out to be a 8-6-4 or Oldsmobile diesel debacle of 30 years ago.

    And there is no reason to buy a plug in electric – yet. There was no reason to buy a horseless carriage in 1898 either.


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