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Volt top-selling plug-in vehicle in US in May, followed by Prius PHV

The Chevrolet Volt was the top-selling plug-in vehicle from the top six automakers in May, posting 1,680 units, compared to 481 in May 2011. Year-to-date sales for the Volt have risen to 7,057 units, compared to 2,184 units for the same period last year.

The Prius PHV plug-in hybrid followed, with 1,086 units sold, representing 5.1% of the 21,477 units of the full Prius family sold in May. (The Prius liftback accounted for 60.8% (13,053 units) of family sales; the Prius c, 17.2% (3,693); and the Prius v, 17.0% (3,645).)

Sales of the Nissan LEAF were 510 units in May 2012, down from the 1,142 units sold in May 2011. Calendar year-to-date sales for the LEAF are 2,613 units, up from 2,167 for the same period in 2011.

Combined sales of the Volt, Prius PHV and LEAF represented about 0.25% of total US light-duty vehicle sales (1,334,600 units, according to Autodata), or about 0.6% of the combined sales of GM, Toyota and Nissan. Volt sales represented 0.68% of all GM vehicle sales; Prius PHV represented 0.53% of all Toyota vehicles sales; and LEAF represented 0.56% of all Nissan vehicle sales.

Additionally in May, Ford delivered the first Focus Electric vehicles to retail customers.



Worldwide, the Prius is very far ahead of the Volt with 250K in the first 3 month of 2012.


You should compare the Volt to the PIP, not the standard Prius.


Comparing the Volt to the Plug-in Prius is not really a fair comparison either. The Volt is essentially an electric vehicle that runs a backup gas engine and generator after about 35 miles of all electric driving using a 149 hp electric motor. After the first 35 miles it is still driven electrically except in one regime where the engine is clutched in to aid efficiency. The Plug-in Prius is primarily a Hybrid Electric Vehicle that has about 11 miles of all electric range. However, it only has a 51 hp electric motor so it will only run as an electric vehicle in a more limited lower power regime.



The PiP has a 60 kW (80 hp) electric motor, not 51 hp. The advantage of the PiP is that it has a much higher efficiency when running on petrol.



I did not make these numbers up. They were taken from the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius web sites. See: which clearly states: EV 51 hp (38 kW); HV 36 hp (27 kW)
which means that there is 51 hp available for Electric Vehicle operation but only 36 hp available for Hybrid Vehicle operation.

As to advantages and disadvantages, the Plug in Prius might be more efficient if you drove hundreds of miles per day in city traffic but for the vast majority of people, the Volt runs as an electric vehicle most of the time but without range anxiety if you need to make a longer trip. GM's claim was that about 90% of the people drive less than 40 miles per day. Neither of these vehicles would work for me as an only vehicle as I need a full size 4x4 HD long bed pickup for my work some of the time but I might go look at the Volt as a commuter vehicle when I will not need the truck. I was driving a dual-sport motorcycle (which got better mileage and better performance than a Prius) some of the time until someone pulled a U-turn in my face


The Volt is more of an EV than the PIP but PIP wins on price, which will determine who wins in sales.


Best selling cars for Q1/2012 were:

1. Corolla = 300 K
2. Focus = 270 K
3. Prius = 250 K

NB: Toyota is back in number one place.



Try doing some math.

Chev Volt = 1,680 units Plug-in Prius = 1,086 units
Volt sales represented 0.68% of all GM vehicle sales; Prius PHV represented 0.53% of all Toyota vehicles

1680/0.0068 = 247,059 for GM

1086/0.0053 = 204,906 for Toyota

Or you could research the actual reported sales:

245256 for GM in May, 202973 for Toyota in May


sd:.....I was quoting the official Q1/2012 sales, not the PHEV sales for May 2012.


Worldwide, Toyota has over 82% of all electrified vehicle sales to date and Prius sales are a bit over 4,000,000.

All others have a very long way to go to catch up.



I see the source of the confusion. Although the motor is rated at 60 kW, the usable power in EV mode indeed is limited to 38 kW. I did not realise that. Thanks for pointing that out.


Local USA sales are becoming less and less important to indicate/show world wide sale trends. Using local Chinese sales may be slightly more relevant but would not have much more world wide pertinence.

It may be true that the majority in USA do not want to know what is happening world wide but that is a local shortcoming to be addressed.

Facts are that HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs sales are picking up in Japan and other countries with limited local liquid fuel production.


sd, Anne,

Actually… The Prius Plug-in (like the Volt and standard Prius) has TWO separate motor-generators. MG2 (the main propulsion motor) is rated at 60kW (80hp). MG1 (used as a generator and starter motor) is rated at 42kW (56HP).

Personally, I prefer not to constantly be carrying around the weight of a generator and a highly-complex hybrid drivetrain. I drive a LEAF (which has only a handful of moving parts) for the 98% of the time that it meets my needs, and a Civic for the other 2%.


You're lucky that you can afford two vehicles.

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