Electric Vehicles Hot as Volt Speeds Rollout, Leaf Wins Award

February 2, 2011

Mass-produced electric vehicles (EV) continue to expand their markets to meet consumer demand, and one model became the first EV to win industry honors in Europe. General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet announced on January 27 that it will accelerate the national rollout of its Volt this year, making it available in all 50 states by the end of 2011 because of customer interest. The automaker began delivering its extended range EVs to California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington D.C. in December 2010. Customer deliveries are now planned to begin in Michigan this spring, with Volts arriving at dealerships in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington during the third quarter of 2011. The remainder of the country is expected to get the car by the fourth quarter. The Volt, which travels 35 miles on electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery—and another 344 miles on a full tank of gas—was named 2011 North American Car of the Year in January by 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada. See the GM Volt press release and Volt vehicle highlights website.

While the Nissan Leaf EV missed top North American honors by finishing third in the balloting, it was honored as Europe's Car of the Year, the automaker said on January 24. Journalists from 23 European countries put the Leaf at the top of the list, marking the first time in the award's 48-year history that an EV has taken the prize. The Japanese-built vehicle, designed to travel 100 miles per charge of its advanced laminated lithium-ion, currently has pre-orders for more than 27,000 units globally. Nissan plans to begin building the Leaf in the United States by 2012. Some of the demand for EVs and hybrids will come from related industry. Enterprise-Rent-A-Car planned to begin leasing Volts in January, adding Leaf and other EV models as they became available. See the Nissan press release, Leaf website, and Enterprise press release.