Chevy Bolt sales ramp up quickly

by Ernie Hernandez on February 19, 2017

It’s Nissan vs. Chevy in the affordable EV segment

Chevy Bolt sales got off to a slow start in December with late and limited availability, but Chevy got 579 Bolts out the door (compared with 1,899 LEAFs). Once inventory started to ramp up a bit the tables turned with Chevrolet delivering 1,162 Bolts in January vs. 772 LEAFs for Nissan. So what does it all mean?

First, let’s put some perspective on this. January was the first full month of availability for the all-new Bolt. Nissan’s first full month of sales for the LEAF, January of 2011, saw LEAF sales of 87 units. It took until April of that year for Nissan to break the 500 mark, which they did with sales of 573.

Nissan achieved their highest single month sales total of 3,186 in August of 2014, which was also the best year thus far for Nissan with 30,200 vehicles sold. Public awareness of electric cars had been ramping up over the previous three years with Tesla first selling its first Model S in 2012 and many other automakers joining the plug-in vehicle fray. Now that pretty much anyone of driving age has heard of electric cars, it is not surprising that the Bolt would have a significantly better launch than Nissan experienced all those years ago.

That the Chevy Bolt goes twice as far also might have something to do with it. The EPA range of the LEAF is 107 miles – the Bolt 238, although the Bolt starts about $7,000 more. Also, the LEAF looks virtually identical to what it did in December of 2010 and the Bolt is the shiny new toy, although I don’t know of anyone that would call either particularly attractive. Tesla seems to own the sexy electric car market for the moment, but that exclusivity comes at the equivalent of Apple technology product prices. Yes, they say that the Model 3 is coming late this year at $35,000 but I’ll believe it when I see it. Tesla has yet to deliver on time.

So with the launch of the Chevy Bolt, the US driving public finally has an affordable, medium distance electric car that many will find meets their needs. This 60 Kwh battery class of vehicle, available in the $30,000 price range, is getting the EV marketplace near the tipping point of widespread acceptance.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MechaBill April 17, 2017 at 11:53 pm

I looked at a Bolt while I was picking up a Chevy Volt (my wife has claimed the Leaf so we needed a second car with better range). The better range is nice but the cargo space is smaller than the Leaf. The onboard charger is 7.2kW compared to the Leafs 6.6kW so recharging from empty should take over 8 hours to recharge the 60kWH battery pack compared to 3 and a half hours to recharge the Leafs 24kWH battery pack (assuming both batteries can take a full charge, which isn’t likely, and assuming linear charge time which again, isn’t likely). With a battery this size, you really need a DC quick charger.

Also, most of the time you will not be using anywhere near the full capacity of the battery, but you will still be dragging it around everywhere you go. For me, the Volt made more sense if you needed more range.

The ideal solution though, would be a Leaf with 100mile range but with the capacity to tow a range extending generating trailer. So you could use your Leaf for all kinds of daily driving and a few times a year, hook up the trailer and go on vacation.

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Ernie Hernandez April 23, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Bill – Welcome to Living LEAF. For many, as for you, a Volt makes a great second car. You get to drive primarily on electricity for commutes and around town, but the gasoline engine gives you the range to take longer trips. However, I do see the benefit of having an electric car with a 60 kWh battery, such as that found in the Bolt and the upcoming 2018 LEAF. Many people need to have a significantly longer range than that allowed by the current LEAF and the 60 kWh battery allows for that. I don’t necessarily see the need for a 100 kWh battery as that offered by Tesla now. Very few drivers currently exceed 300 miles behind the wheel without stopping for one reason or another. However 150 mile trips would easily be doable with a 60 kWh battery, but not with a 30 kWh battery.

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