GM Volt Sets Sales Record in August (2,831) but Nissan LEAF Still Struggling (685)
August is now in the rearview mirror...Time really flies! GM and Nissan have release sales numbers for the Volt and LEAF, something that's always interesting to follow to see how plug-in cars are doing. As a point of comparison, in July GM sold 1,849 Volts, and while it looks like they have more production capacity than what the market can absorb - they have been idling the Volt plant - they are still doing pretty well. In August they sold 2,831 Chevy Volts, a new record that beats the previous one of 2,289 (March 2012) by a significant margin. 2,831 is an annualized rate of almost 34,000, so nothing to be ashamed of for GM. We must remember that the Toyota Prius didn't start selling well until a few years had passed and a second much-improved version came to market.
Nissan is still struggling with the LEAF. In July it sold only 395 units, which Nissan partly blamed on supply issues, but in August things rebounded pretty significantly to 685 units. Still not anywhere close to Nissan's ambitious goals, but it's an annualized rate of 8,220, which isn't that bad.
Making cars is a complicated industrial undertaking, and you have to make guesses about future demand many months - if not years - ahead of time. I suspect that both GM and Nissan expected the world economy to be roaring by now, but that's not the case and it probably puts a damper on plug-in car sales. As long as they are in it for the long haul, they'll eventually be rewarded. And buyers aren't dumb either; they know that the next generation of plug-ins will have longer driving ranges and less expensive batteries, and that more public charging stations will exist. It can be entirely rational to wait a bit.