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Electric vehicles: Small Volt, Leaf sales figures can add to curb appeal

General Motors and Nissan have hit the road with the Chevy Volt and Leaf, respectively, but the jury is out on whether 2011 will the year of the electric vehicle. And that's not such a bad thing.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

General Motors and Nissan have hit the road with the Chevy Volt and Leaf, respectively, but the jury is out on whether 2011 will the year of the electric vehicle. And that's not such a bad thing.

The sales figures for GM and Nissan
over the holiday break sparked some alarm. GM sold 250 to 350 Chevy Volts in December. Nissan sold 10 Leafs. Worry is a bit misplaced given it's so early in the electric vehicle game, but the numbers are small.

Simply put, the EVs won't be mass market in 2011. Even 2012 may be in question.

However, small sales may be a good marketing move. GM has a huge waiting list for the Volt. GM also says in a disclaimer:

Only Chevrolet Participating Volt Dealers will receive Volt vehicles. We will launch Volt in seven markets, in limited quantities: California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Washington D.C. Retail sales will begin in late 2010 in California, the New York Metropolitan Area, Washington DC and Austin, TX. Michigan and the balance Texas, New York State, New Jersey and Connecticut, are scheduled to begin receiving Volts in March of 2011.

We intend to distribute to all 50 states in the next 12 to 18 months after the start of initial sales. If the Volt is not yet being distributed in your area, please provide us with your contact information, so we may send you the latest news and updates. We expect demand to exceed supply, so each dealership has been told up front the number of 2011 Model Year Volts to expect to receive. Ask your dealer if your order falls within their estimated 2011 Volt allocation.

It's a similar order story for the Leaf. According to Nissan, 20,000 people have reserved a Leaf. That figure "has exceeded our expectations," said Nissan.

Nissan adds on its site:

We have completed the first phase of reservations. In order to provide the best level of customer service and premium ownership experience to the first Nissan Leaf drivers, we will not be accepting new reservations until the next phase begins. a subsequent phase of new reservations will begin next year, after current reservations and orders have been processed.

In technology, these shortages happen a good bit. In fact, these shortages can actually stoke longer term demand. Given the shortages, EVs will have a wow factor for months to come simply because not everyone will be able to buy a Volt or Leaf even if they wanted to. The other benefit of small sales figures: The people that have reserved an EV are probably the most knowledgeable and realize they are early adopters. If EVs suddenly sold 200,000 vehicles in a year there would likely be a lot of disappointment from folks who didn't know what they were getting into.

Related:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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