Chevy Volt vs. Nissan LEAF: Electric Car Battle

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
While the Toyota Prius paved the way for realistic environmentally friendly cars, the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt both represent a future for the segment. Both are plug-in electric vehicles, though the Volt has a back-up gas option that makes it a better option for some. However there are many things to consider: what are the performance and range like? How about charging time? Price? Keep in mind both cars are eligible for government incentives and tax credits, so that helps. In this video, compares the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt to see which comes out on top.
The battle for electric car supremacy rages on. Welcome to, and today we’ll be comparing the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt to see which comes out on top.

Picking up where the Toyota Prius left off, the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt made a splash in the auto market in 2011.

The Volt is a plug-in hybrid electric car, whereas the LEAF is full-on electric, and both were a long time coming for their respective brands. Let’s see how the cars stack up to direct competition:


Neither car stuns in the performance department: the LEAF can go 0-60 in about ten seconds, while the Volt can do it in nine. The LEAF handily beats the Volt in gas mileage, getting the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon to Chevy’s 93. But here’s where things get interesting: charging time in the LEAF is outrageous. On 240-volt power, the LEAF takes seven hours to charge, while the Volt takes four. And at 120-volts, it’s 19 hours versus 10. The LEAF gets 73-miles-per-charge, but once it runs out of juice, you’re a goner. The Volt runs electric for 35-miles, and then can go on gas for 379 miles. However, on gas the Volt only gets average mileage, and 13 fewer miles-per-gallon than the Prius. Despite that, we have to award the points to the Volt due to quicker charging, a more exciting drive and the gas back-up option – at least until charging stations become more widespread.

Winner: Chevrolet Volt


Both Nissan and Chevrolet wisely chose not to emulate the design of the Toyota Prius for their plug-ins so drivers aren’t loudly boasting their eco-friendliness. They also both avoided odd design elements that might alienate middle-of-the-road consumers. And frankly, with bonuses like decreased drag coefficient and increased fuel efficiency, that’s pretty impressive. The hatchback LEAF shares similarities with its brother the Versa, while the Volt is a compact that resembles the Malibu. Both cars fit in well on the road, but we’ll give this one to the Volt, just barely, because of its slightly higher sex appeal.

Winner: Chevrolet Volt


The LEAF produces zero emissions, and it symbolically doesn’t even have a tail pipe. However, buyers should note that charging creates emissions. Since the LEAF charges for such a long time, that can be a problem: solar-powered charging can help with this though. On the inside, the LEAF is loaded with repurposed goodies: plastic bottles, home appliances and used car parts were all recycled to create the interior features. The Volt isn’t perfect, but its charge time is less and it beats the Prius at emissions with only 84 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. But all in all, no tail pipe and recycled materials are impressive, so the LEAF wins this round.

Winner: Nissan LEAF


The price tags for these environmentally-friendly cars aren’t prohibitively expensive, but they’re up there. A 2011 LEAF retailed at almost $33 grand with a three thousand dollar jump to the next year’s model. The 2011 Volt rang in at $40 thousand. Don’t forget to budget in the extra costs of a home charging unit, not to mention the addition to your electricity bill. In both cases, a home charger is about $2 thousand. However: both cars are also eligible for government incentives and tax credits in the thousands of dollars, as well. We have to give this round to the LEAF for its overall cheaper price.

Winner: Nissan LEAF


Chevrolet started 2011 with the goal of selling ten thousand Volts; however they fell short of their target by selling just over six thousand by year’s end. LEAF sales fluctuated from month-to-month, but Nissan wound up moving almost nine thousand in total over the same period. Ultimately, what really matters is how the cars are selling, and clearly the LEAF interests more drivers than the Volt. So Nissan takes this one.

Winner: Nissan LEAF

Overall Winner: Nissan LEAF

While both cars are a great option for their environmental impact, design and overall driveability, the Nissan LEAF represents the future of electric vehicles. We have to commend Nissan for taking the leap of faith and providing drivers with the first realistic electric car.