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Chevy Volt Leads U.S. Plug-In Car Sales as Leaf Slows

GM’s Chevy Volt Leads U.S. Rechargeable Car Sales as Leaf Stalls
A General Motors Co. Chevrolet Volt is displayed at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt was the best-selling rechargeable auto in the U.S. 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 percent 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 percent in June to 535 and 19 percent this year to 3,148, as Nissan switches to direct dealer sales of the car.

“On March 1 we went to a more a 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 38 miles (61 kilometers) on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery pack, and has a U.S. efficiency rating of 98 miles per gallon-equivalent, according to GM’s website. The Leaf averages 73 miles per charge and the plug-in Prius can go 15 miles on battery power before running as a 50-mile-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.

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