How are Volt sales compared to the 24 other alt-power source vehicles?

WardsAuto U.S. Sales of Alternative Power Source Light Vehicles lists twenty-seven vehicles for sale as of November 2011. What are the cars and how is Volt faring compared to the other twenty-six vehicles?

The twenty-seven, twenty-five if you don’t count the Mercury Milan and the Saturn Aura that are still listed, with the starting MSRP are:
BMW 7-Series hybrid ($102,300)
Buick LaCrosse ($29,960)
Buick Regal ($29,530)
Chevrolet Malibu ($25,235)
Chevrolet Volt ($39,145)
Ford Fusion ($28,600)
Honda Civic hybrid (or CNG) ($24,050)
Honda CR-Z ($19,545)
Honda FCX Clarity – fuel cell ($600/month lease only)
Honda Insight ($18,350)
Hyundai Sonata ($25,795)
Infiniti M35 ($53,700)
Kia Optima ($26,500)
Lexus CT 200 ($29,120)
Lexus GS 450 ($58,950)
Lexus HS 250 ($37,030)
Lexus LS 600 ($112,250)
Lincoln MKZ ($34,645)
Mercedes B-Class – fuel cell – $849 per month lease only
Mercedes S-Class ($91,850)
Mit’subishi I (EV) ($21.620)
Nissan Altima ($26,800)
Nissan Leaf (EV) ($32,780)
Toyota Camry ($25,900)
Toyota Prius ($23,520)

These 25 alternative sources make up 2.5 percent of car sales. As of November, 2011 alternative power source vehicle sales were 220,061. Toyota Prius is the number one runaway winner with 119,459 sales. It has been the number one alternative power source vehicle since the day it came on the market.

The top ten alternative power source vehicle in sales year-to-date, according to Wards Auto are:
1. Toyota Prius – 119,459
2. Honda Insight – 14,859
3. Lexus CT 200h – 12,122
4. Honda CRZ – 10,766
5. Hyundai Sonata – 10,749
6. Ford Fusion – 10,398
7. Nissan Leaf – 8,720
8 Toyota Camry – 7,444
9. Chevy Volt – 6,142
10. Lincoln MKZ – 5,305

When you compare vehicles for purchase they are usually compared by price range. A VW Passat would be compared with a Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and then in the overall market. A person who is looking for a $20,000 vehicle won’t typically look for a car that is $40,000.

The same should be done for alternative power source vehicles.

Part of the reason the Toyota Prius is doing so well is because it is also in the sweet spot when it comes to price. Let’s break down the alternative power source cars by price:

$15,000-$25,000
1. Toyota Prius
2. Honda Insight
3. Honda CRZ

$25,000-$35,000
1. Lexus CT 200h
2. Hyundai Sonata
3. Ford Fusion

When I look on edmunds.com I see a Nissan Leaf that is in the $25,000-$35,000 range and a Nissan Leaf that is in the $35,000-$40,000. That’s two spots, so the sales are split between $25,000-$35,000. Nissan also has an advertisement saying you can get a Leaf for $31,280. I go to truecar.com and it says the average price Nationally for a Nissan Leaf is $33,747. This means most of the Leafs have sold for less than $35,000. If I use that purchase price figure the Toyota Camry hybrid would be fourth in the $25,000-$35,000, than the Nissan Leaf.

$35,000-$40,000
1. Chevy Volt
2. Lexus HS 250

There are only two alternative source vehicles in the $35,000-$45,000 range if you put Nissan Leaf in the $25,000-$35,000 range.

What does this say about sales for the Chevy Volt? It says that the Chevy Volt is number one in sales in it’s price category and in the top ten Nationwide in alternative power source vehicles.

If you look at the last three months each month has grown in sales. The Volt has had a rocky start; production problems, re-tooling problems, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues. Setting a goal of selling 10,000 unit’s has proved futile.

NHTSA and Chevy are working closely to resolve the coolant, circuitry problem. Once this is done Chevy, and Opel, can go about the business of reaching the 60,000 Volt/Ampera sales they have forecast for 2012.

MSRP starting prices from edmunds.com
Data from Wards Auto U.S. Sales November 2011

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.