Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The battle for supremacy in the electric car category has begun –even though at present there are only two prime contestants. According to Bloomberg, the Nissan LEAF sold 3,875 cars the first half of the year, compared to 2,745 of GM’s Volt over the same period.
From January through May, the Volt was only 17 cars behind the Leaf, but in the following month, sales of the Volt plunged to just 561 cars, while those of the LEAF took off with a record 1,708 units, giving Nissan’s EV the lead. The LEAF costs $33,000 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, while the Volt costs $41,000 before government incentives.
Nissan’ CEO Carlos Ghosn predicted that Evs will account for 10% of global sales by 2020. He added that he expects his company to sell 12,000 LEAFs this year in the US, and predicted that this number may climb as high as 200,000 units –though he declined to specify a timetable.
Analysts, however, don’t share Ghosn’s optimism. George Peterson, president of consulting company AutoPacific in California, says that “we ‘re not going to see thousands of these on the roads soon. Rechargable vehicles may rise to about 3% of total US car sales in a few years”.
Nevertheless, GM plans to manufacture 16,000 Volts in 2011, with the production rising to 60,000 cars in 2012 after the Hamtrack plant upgraded is finished.
The two automakers had better hurry, because their competitors plan to enter the arena real soon. Next year Toyota will introduce a plug-in version of the very popular Prius and electric versions of the RAV4 SUV and the Scion iQ city car, and Honda plans to launch both a battery-only version of the Jazz/Fit supermini and another, yet unnamed, midsize plug-in vehicle.


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