General Motors Co's Chevrolet Volt was the best-selling rechargeable auto in the US in the first half, racing ahead of Toyota Motor Corp's plug-in Prius and Nissan Motor Co's all-electric Leaf hatchback.
Volt sedan deliveries more than tripled to 1,760 in June from 561 a year earlier and rose 221 per cent in the first half to 8,817, GM said. Toyota sold 695 units of the rechargeable Prius last month and 4,347 since its March introduction. Leaf sales fell 69 per cent in June to 535 and 19 per cent this year to 3,148, as Nissan switches to direct dealer sales of the car.
"On March 1 we went to a more traditional dealer model. In doing that we miscalculated the marketing that had to go behind it," Al Castignetti, vice-president of Nissan's North American sales, said in an interview. The company last year delivered Leafs to customers on a waiting list, rather than directly off dealer lots.Demand for Volts has risen in California, the main market for rechargeable autos, after Detroit-based GM modified the car's warranty and emissions to qualify it for state rebates and lone drivers to use carpool lanes. The improvement came after GM briefly halted Volt assembly this year when sales cooled on news of battery-pack fires following crash tests.
Separately, the company said yesterday Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for the Volt since the car's inception in 2006, had retired, providing no further details.
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt travels 61 kilometres on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery pack, and has a US efficiency rating of 157 kilometres per gallon-equivalent, according to GM's website. The Leaf averages 117 kilometres per charge and the plug-in Prius can go 24 kilometres on battery power before running as a 80km-per-gallon hybrid.
The Volt starts at $39,145, and qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The base model plug-in Prius costs $32,000, before a $2,500 tax credit. Nissan's Leaf starts at $35,200, according to a company website, before a $7,500 credit.