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Chevy Volt Charges Past Nissan Leaf in America’s Green-Car Derby

Pulling away at a “go” light, plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt have a big advantage over all-electric cars like the Nissan Leaf — because they have a gasoline engine on board that can provide the required performance punch.
That’s sort of what is happening in sales of Volt versus Leaf as well. While the Chevrolet sold nearly 1,700 vehicles in June and, at 8,800, has more than tripled the number it sold last year, Nissan could only report sales of 535 Leafs in the U.S. last month. For the year to date, Leaf sold only about 3,400 units, down 19 percent from last year.
A Nissan spokeswoman told the Detroit News that the main reason for the decline in Leaf sales is that Nissan has been moving away from a “web-driven, build-to-order system that was designed to handle initial sales to more of a traditional dealer-based model.”
As for Volt, “We’re still trying to manage the production to demand,” Chris Perry, Chevrolet’s CMO, told brandchannel. “We still haven’t totally filled the inventory needs growing in California and some other markets. We’re still not sure how high is high with this product.”
To be sure, GM fell far short last year of its initial objective of moving 10,000 Volts in 2011. But it has tapped into strong demand in California by outfitting a version of Volt to comply specifically with stiff emissions regulations in that state, which entitles drivers of those cars to move solo into the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.
And while GM’s production of Volt has been idled off-and-on this year, company executives continue to believe that, long-term, Volt is “a game-changer,” as Perry put it. Future demand for plug-ins and all-electric vehicles remains murky, ever more so with gasoline prices moderating again.


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