Chevy Volt a best-seller?

It’s not exactly time for a last laugh, but the team behind the Chevrolet Volt can breathe a small sigh of relief.

Demand for the extended range electric car remained steady in July, as it maintained its position as the best-selling plug-in car in the United States this year.

Chevy sold 1,849 Volts during the month of July, up a tick from 1,760 in June. While still far short from its long-abandoned goal of selling 3,750 Volts a month, the July result is more than that of its top two rivals combined, the Toyota Prius Plug-in and all-electric Nissan Leaf.

Just 688 of the recently introduced Prius Plug-ins were sold in July while the once dominant Leaf continued its slide to 395 units, bringing its total for the year so far to 3,543. According to Nissan, however, supplies of its Japanese-made car can’t keep up with demand in the U.S., and it expects sales to pick up later this year when it begins manufacturing the Leaf in Tennessee.

Chevrolet has sold 10,666 Volts in 2012, compared to 7, 671 for all of 2011.

The $39,995 Volt can go 35 miles on battery per charge before its gasoline engine takes over, while the $32,980 Prius Plug-in has an all-electric range of about 13 miles per charge. Both cars get an EPA combined rating of 94 mpg that takes into account both electric and gasoline-powered operation.

The Volt and Prius plug-in will soon face new competition in the form of the Ford C-Max Energi, a $33,745 plug-in hybrid with an electric range of 20 miles and a combined rating of 95 mpg that goes on sale this fall.

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