Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf sales dip in January

GM and Nissan have published their respective January (2012) sales figures for the green Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

Sales are down for both models month-to-month compared to December 2011, but are up year-over-year compared to January of 2011.

GM confirms it sold 603 Volts in January 2012, compared to just 321 Volts sold in January of 2011. And in December 2011, GM shipped 1529 Volts for its best month since the car launched.

Meanwhile, Nissan sold 676 of its Leaf all electric sedans in January 2012 – compared to 954 it offloaded in December of 2011.

Some of the Chevrolet sales volume loss between December and January can be attributed to bad press generated by the Volt battery fire investigation. Nevertheless, GM has taken the initiative in addressing the Volt battery-fire issue which only occured during testing, with vehicles being modified accordingly at the car manufacturer’s expense.

In any case, it’s worth pointing out that the Volt is not a traditional electric vehicle: GM refers to it as an extended range electric car. The Volt is equipped with a gasoline generator capable of charging the battery for longer driving distance, whereas the Nissan Leaf has battery power alone and must be charged from a wall outlet.

Both new-generation green vehicles sell in low volumes compared to traditional vehicles. However, they are perceived as an indicator of consumer interest in green vehicles. Meaning, the worth of this sort of vehicle is more than sales numbers alone for the manufacturers, as the fuel sipping nature of hybrids and EVs help manufacturers to meet government mandated fuel economy standards for the entire fleet.