Chevy Bolt Outsold Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S in April

Chevrolet's "next big thing" beat the electric car stalwarts for the first time in April—and sold even more cars in May.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Paul Sancya/AP

Chevy's hoping to capture the imagination of would-be Tesla Model 3 owners who don't want to wait another year for it to go into production. This morning, Nick Bunkley of Automotive News tweeted that May was the Bolt's best month so far, with 1,566 sales. That's quite good for a niche car that's only sold in 14 states at the moment; for example, it's more than the 1,083 combined sales of the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 across all 50 states in April, according to GoodCarBadCar.net. More appropriately, to compare apples to apples, Chevy also sold 1,292 Bolts in April, more than the Nissan Leaf's 1,063 units and the Tesla Model S's 1,200.

The all-electric Bolt is also rapidly catching up to its hybrid cousin, the Volt, which sold 1,807 cars in April. Again, these numbers are impressive, given the Bolt's limited distribution. 

Part of the reason for this sales increase between April and May is that according to Green Car Reports, as of April, the Bolt was only available in eight states—California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Washington. The Bolt began selling in the rest of New England and Colorado in May. Pent-up demand in these states may account for the increase in sales numbers. 

Chevy plans to make the Bolt available in all 50 states in September, at which point we should finally see how well it sells compared directly to the other purely-electric cars on the market.

The Bolt's capabilities are seemingly light-years ahead of the aging Nissan Leaf, with its limited range of just 80-100 miles. But the next-generation Leaf should be on sale later this year, and may give the Bolt a good run for its money—particularly if a version with a 200 mile range comes out in 2020 as suspected. Between the Bolt, the new Leaf, and the Tesla Model 3 (whenever it comes out), there should be some fierce competition in the affordable electric car market pretty soon. May the best electrons win.