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Failure? Hardly. Chevy Volt outsells half of all US cars.

Chevy Volt sales figures this year are higher than roughly half of the 260 or so car models sold in the US.

By John VoelckerGuest blogger / September 22, 2012

A 2012 Chevy Volt electric car is seen at the sixth annual Alternative Transportation Expo and Conference (AltCar) in Santa Monica, California in this 2011 file photo. The debate over the Volt rages on, but the plugin hybrid moved more units than half of the car models sold in the United States this year.

Lucy Nicholson/ReutersFile

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With the Chevrolet Volt racking up the highest sales last month since it launched--though the numbers were helped by incentives for both buyers and dealers--some of the "Volt is a flop" coverage has abated.

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Now, a post on the fan site GM-Volt.com points out that this so-called "sales failure" has higher sales to date this year than roughly half of the other 260 or so models sold in the U.S.

The post responded to an article yesterday on Forbes, "Notwithstanding GM's Protests, No One Wants the Volt," written by the director of science at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank in Washington, D.C.

The GM-Volt.com post simply lists sales totals through August of every vehicle that logged fewer deliveries than the Volt's 13,497.

The aggregated sales data can be found here, among other venues. The Volt is # 133 out of the 262 models listed, though the sales data are hardly linear: The top vehicles sell tens to thousands of times the volume of those at the bottom of the list.

The highest-selling cars are the Toyota Camry (280,536 plus another 30,587 Camry Hybrids), Honda Accord (218,665), and Honda Civic (212,483 plus another 5,168 Civic Hybrids). No surprise there.

And granted, some of the cars outsold by the Volt are predictably low-volume models. No one expects expensive sports cars like the Nissan GT-R (849) or the Lexus LFA (29) to do better than the Volt.

Moreover, GM executives made rash projections of the number of Volts they planned to sell in 2011 (15,000) and 2012 (45,000) they they've now had to walk back.

Still, a number of the models that delivered fewer cars than the Volt are surprising.

Would you have expected the Volt to outsell both the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S Class, Lincoln's large sedan, the MKS, for example--not to mention the mid-size Audi A6? It did.

Then there are the several hybrids it beat, including the Lexus RX 400h and CT 200h, and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

Even more impressive, it beat every single hybrid model sold by BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Honda, Kia, GMC, Infiniti, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

The only hybrids it didn't outsell, in fact, were the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

For context, we like the data from this past January, when total 2011 sales figures revealed that the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf each sold more units in their first year on the market than did the Toyota Prius hybrid back in 2000, its first year.

Now, even the GM reporter at Automotive News has suggested that the incentives to move more Volts are a good thing for GM, for plug-in cars as a whole, and for the industry's move toward greener cars.

In other words: Don't believe everything you read about "failure."

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