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December Leaf & Volt Sales

Nissan and GM have released their December sales reports, and in the last month of 2011, the Volt beat the Leaf.

Nissan sold 954 Leaf units and GM persuaded 1,529 fearless (or fireproof) hippies to buy a Volt.

At the time of writing, the number of returned Volts was unavailable.

GM sold 7671 Volts in 2011, plus 326 in December 2010. Nissan launched the Leaf a year ago, and sold a total of 9,674 in 2011, handily beating GM for the most EV sales by 2000 units, despite a strong last quarter surge by GM.

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In December, industry analysts pondered GM’s missed prediction of 10,000 sales in 2011. In fact, GM should get credit for achieving 80% of that number, it’s probably a closer performance than Nissan will manage against its wild prediction of selling half a million Leafs per year by the end of 2013**.

The Volt suffered a major setback when four vehicles turned into flaming wrecks after the batteries were damaged, and the firm is frantically working on a fix for the issue. Which might make die-hard hippies happy, but won’t persuade many other customers to pay for an over-priced pseudo-electric car that may or may not burn up in your garage. The suspicion that the battery problem was hidden from the public for months, until cars began to turn into piles of expensive ash overnight.

To add to the long lost of woe for the Volt, it came third on the list of Worst Product Flops of 2011.

The Volt is not the only electric car to catch fire, Fisker is has recalled its entire production output of the Karma performance electric car. Now that’s bad Karma. That’s another $500 million the US taxpayer won’t be collecting a return on.

the reworked commercial will feature a fire hose

Nissan has enjoyed a relatively easier ride with its Leaf, with no major drama despite one epic facepalm moment. Yet Nissan should be worried, because the failure of other electric vehicles to sell, or even be safe enough to park at home, affects the entire sector. USA Today thinks the bloom is already off the EV rose:

It’s not that potential car buyers reject the idea of being green. Most love the idea — until it involves the hassle and substantial expense of installing a home charger on top of paying a substantial price premium over an equivalent non-electric car. And then there is planning for range limits.

All electric cars have face the issue of limited range, and even manufacturers are using stories about competitor owners unable to get the promised range from their vehicle. That might turn into a legal problem if this case against Honda is won.

A final thought for those who drive a hybrid Prius and feel pretty good about themselves. Your car kills Mexicans.

You’re welcome.

**Note: The countdown clock for Nissan’s claim has been adjusted to reflect the actual prediction made by Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s CEO, rather than the somewhat misleading headline used by the IBT. The good news for Nissan is they have 365 extra days to make it, the bad news is they won’t.