It's an uphill climb for a $40,000 plug-in hybrid that has neither the widespread infrastructure to support it nor the consumer will to splurge on one, but the 25- to 50-mile range of the all-electric engine is making that climb slowly but surely.
Compared with the current standard-bearer of alternative energy vehicles -- the Toyota Prius hybrid -- the Volt is getting its electric-powered clock cleaned. Toyota sold 12,477 Priuses in April alone and has sold more than 55,000 year-to-date -- a 32% increase from the same period last year. The Volt, meanwhile, rolled just 493 units off of dealer lots in February and notched a scant 1,700 in sales so far this year.
That said, the Volt's doing a much better job than its all-electric plug-in competitor the Nissan Leaf. While costing roughly $10,000 less than the Volt, the Leaf's managed little more than 1,000 sales year-to-date. It's not a stunning victory by the Volt by any means, but with U.S. gas prices still climbing it's a nice head start. Considering that the Volt's technology is helping to increase the mileage of GM gas guzzlers such as the Camaro and Cadillac CTS -- which will get a 310-horsepower, 30 miles per gallon V6 next year -- the Volt's small win against its direct competitor may be buffered by the big assist it's giving its brand."GM is estimating 20,000 Volt sales for the first year, but there are so many factors going against it," Edmunds' Drury says. "More than 50% of every hybrid sold is a Prius, but you're still looking at less than 2,000 Volts running around on the road, so I think sales may not be the best way to measure what's going on with that car." -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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