Gallery: Electric Vehicle Smackdown: Chevy Volt vs. Nissan Leaf


If you’ve been following the growing electric car momentum, you probably know about all of the buzz that’s built up around the most anticipated electric vehicles of the year – the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. The Chevy Volt has already won the title of 2011 Green Car of the Year at the LA Auto Show and as a result, GM has announced significiant investments in the car in order to meet public demand. On the other hand, the Nissan Leaf has been named the 2011 European Car of the Year and has just been released in the US to massive pre-order figures and much excitement. Both of these cars appeal to the green driver in us, so the Inhabitat team decided to take a closer look at the two models in order to compare factors such as price, range and general convenience, and determine which is the better electric vehicle. If you’re in the market for a new non-gas-guzzler ride to save you money at the pump, hit the jump for our in-depth comparison to see which of the new EVs is best for you!

Which electric vehicle would you spring for?

  • 699 Votes The Chevy Volt
  • 881 Votes The Nissan Leaf
  • 337 Votes Neither - I'm not convinced yet

View Results

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Different EVs For Different Markets

One important distinction between the two cars is that they cater to two different markets – the Chevy Volt is very much a sporty commuter sedan, while the Nissan Leaf is the ideal ride for city driving. As such, the Nissan Leaf has an all-electric, emission-free range of 100 miles. Meanwhile the Chevy Volt has a somewhat limited 40 mile electric range, but makes up for that in spades with its gas powered generator, which adds a range of 300 miles to the car on longer journeys. The Volt is also aimed at the family market with the higher end price of $41,000 (roughly $33K after the federal tax rebate) while the Nissan Leaf is better for single communters with a cheaper price of $32,000 (roughly $25K after the federal tax rebate).

While the Nissan Leaf has seen massive initial sales in Japan (and has increased annual production from 50,000 units to 250,000 to cater to demand), GM is aiming to invest heavily into the Volt in order to sell more than 10,000 units during the first year of it entering the market. As you probably know, the Nissan Leaf was just released this weekend in the US, and the Chevy Volt just started shipping to dealers this morning!

So based on budget and what you’re looking for in an electric car, which one would you go for? The Chevy Volt or the Nissan Leaf?

+ Chevy Volt Starts Shipping to Dealers
+ Inhabitat Test-Drives The Chevy Volt
+ The Chevy Volt Official Website
+ Nissan Leaf Released in the US
+ Nissan leaf

Which electric vehicle would you spring for?

  • 699 Votes The Chevy Volt
  • 881 Votes The Nissan Leaf
  • 337 Votes Neither - I'm not convinced yet

View Results

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  1. Moteur-roue-HQ October 26, 2011 at 10:09 am

    The Chevy Volt (actually the 1899 Lohner-Porsche) is the solution for the 25 next years. Why?

    Because the battery technology began in the 1850, then stopped for 100 years to finally evovle in the 1990.

    Because making a HUGE 200-300 miles battery is a HUGE WASTE of energy and raw material. With a ‘real’ 300 miles battery EV, we could make 5 ‘real’ 60 miles Chevy Volt-Like and still reduce up to 90% our petrol consumption! Plus, why have a 300 miles battery when we will plently use it only one time a week, or a month??

    ‘But the plan is not to make 100% EVs? Well, yes, but the commercial battery technology is not yet ready (I say commercial).

    With the Volt, we can actually make more cars with the same amount of batteries and drastically reduce our fuel consumption.

    But the remaining 10% is stil a problem. We could replace it by biofuel, like 100% Ethanol and Biodiesel PRODUCED FROM NON-COMESTIBLE PLANTS, like the Myscanthus.

    The Lohner-Porsche/Chevy Volt concept IS the solution for everyone’s transportation. On the other Hand, 100% Evs like the Leaf are perfect for City-Only and City-Only-High-Mileage-Per-Day Users.

    (Sorry for my so-so english)

  2. Eco-Man May 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    The Chevy Volt is not an EV. It is a plug-in hybrid.
    The Nissan Leaf is an EV.

    Comparing the two vehicles is comparing apples to oranges. One should compare the Chevy Volt to a Toyota Prius because both vehicles are more comparable (both have gasoline engines and electric motors for their drive system). The latter is the reason why the Volt is much more costly than a Leaf because it has two drive systems instead of one.

    A plug in hybrid vehicle (Volt) is the evolution of a hybrid vehicle (Prius) because it still relies on a gasoline engine for the drive system.

    An EV (Leaf) relies solely on an all-electric drive system. This results is a revolutionary change in the auto industry rather than the incremental change that plug-in hybrids (like the Volt) provide.

    EVs also have significant implications to the auto industry, the environment, and the whole gas-power auto ecosystem which will result in new support industries/jobs being created as well as legacy ones going away.

    It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out over the next 2 years as new EV and plug-in hybrid manufacturers’ products enter the market.

  3. Woody14619 January 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    One other bit: Neither car is being sold… both are for LEASE ONLY in the limited markets they’re being sold in.

  4. okfourme December 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Seriously, the Volt is *only* relevant on the American market and is overly represented in English-speaking media solely out of nationalistic reasons. Had a hybrid car (the Volt is *not* an EV no matter how much you yanks might wish to twist the definition to claim any local progress in the area) with similar specs been sold by a European or East Asian company it would garnered significantly less attention, although it would of course have compensated with far superior quality and technology. The Leaf however is a significant step forward toward a viable all-electric vehicle and has a global reach and relevance that far surpasses that of the Volt.

  5. Gm Customer Service December 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Hi everyone, I wanted to add some information that wasn’t mentioned in the comparison!
    Because batteries are “temperamental” to temperature changes, the Volt’s lithium-ion battery temperature is continually monitored and maintained by an active liquid thermal management system with thermal control. This system continuously circulates coolant throughout and around the battery packs to heat or cool the battery to an optimum battery temperature to help ensure long life. The Nissan Leaf’s battery is air cooled.

    Also, Volt owners receive convenient courtesy transportation for 5 years or 100,000 miles, whatever comes first!

    Caron – Chevrolet Volt Advisor

  6. bkimages December 18, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Not sure if those charge times are accurate? Aren’t those 220 charge times and not 110? I am leaning towards the Leaf partially because GM killed the electric car and it does run on gas. May just wait for the Tesla S model.

  7. longingfornyc December 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    neither car is suitable to be the sole car. As a second car the Leaf is much more preferable, not only because it is cheaper, but also because it has a range of 100 miles, as opposed to the Volt’s 40 miles (electric). So the leaf wins even if the commute is as long as say 40 miles each way, not unheard of here in Houston.

    For long rides, neither car is suitable, a hybrid Lexus HS250h works fine for me, handles really well even over 100mph (over 35 mpg), obviously the Volt will not perform at that level and still consume gas, so no benefit there.

    Good job Nissan, if I am on the market for a second car, the Leaf will be it (unless something else more awesome comes along).

  8. Kestrel Jenkins December 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I’m lovin’ the Volt’s supposed range — makes me feel much more confident about jumping in, knowing it has energy for about 340 miles!

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