Chevy Volt Will Cost $41,000

Chevrolet announces Tuesday, July 27, 2010 the 2011 Chevy Volt electric vehicle with extended range capability will go on sale with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price starting at $41,000. Volt owners can qualify for up to $7,500 in U.S. Federal income tax credit. The Volt will be initially available in California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area. Customers wanting to be among the first to purchase a Volt can visit a participating Chevrolet Volt dealer. The Chevrolet Volt (pictured here) at Courtesy Chevrolet in San Jose, California on Sunday, July 25, 2010. (Photo by Martin Klimek for Chevrolet) (07/27/2010)

Three and a half years after introducing the concept Chevy Volt electric car, General Motors is finally answering the question of its price: $41,000 before a federal tax credit.

GM is scheduled to disclose the pricing and tout the 340-mile range of the Chevy Volt on Tuesday at a conference on plug-in vehicles in San Jose, Calif.

Chevy Volt electric vehicle

The cost of a lease is $350 a month for 36 months with a $2,500 down payment. The Volt, which has an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty, qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax, which brings the net purchase price to $33,500 after receiving the credit.

People on Tuesday will be able to order a Volt from and be able to track the status of their order as GM starts delivery of the car later this year.

Initially, GM will offer the Volt in seven regions: California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Michigan, and Texas.

The company anticipates that it will sell 10,000 cars in the first year and then make the Volt available nationally and sell 30,000 units in 2012, GM executives said on a conference call on Tuesday. The company hopes that higher volumes will bring down the price in the future, but some of that is already figured in, said Joel Ewanick, GM vice president of U.S. marketing.

"We're pricing very aggressively taking into account some of those factors already," he said. "We think it's a great opening salvo and we'll see what happens over time."

The base model will include a number of high-tech features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation screen, and five years of GM's OnStar service. There will also be four options, such as a rear camera, a more expensive paint package, and different wheels. If all options are chosen, the cost is $44,600 before the $7,500 tax credit.

When GM first launched the Chevy Volt concept in 2007, there wasn't a lot of competition among major automakers in the electric-vehicle category. But now the battery-electric $33,000 Nissan Leaf is expected for release in coming months as well a host of other electric vehicles and hybrids.

Although this is the first time GM has disclosed the suggested retail price, outsiders for some time have anticipated cost of the Volt would be about $40,000.

To stand out from the competition, GM is emphasizing the relative long range of the Volt's design over battery-electric cars, such as the Leaf, said Ewanick.

"Our strategy is (to say) that it's more car than electric," said Ewanick. "This car gives you a 340-mile range, it gives you real peace of mind, which is a big piece of differentiation between us and the competition. This is a car you can drive cross-country and our competition can't do that."

GM also plans to provide coaching to Volt buyers on how to install a higher-voltage charging station in their homes, although the Volt can charge overnight using a standard outlet.

Electrification ahead?
Unlike a traditional hybrid, the Volt is driven entirely by an electric motor, which gives it a peppy, smooth acceleration. The batteries store enough charge to drive the car about 40 miles and then a gasoline engine runs a generator to maintain charge for the batteries. By contrast, battery-electric vehicles planned from major automakers, such as the Nissan Leaf, can go about 100 miles.

But GM is still not able to say what sort of mileage the Volt will get because the Environmental Protection Agency is still working on a methodology to communicate the fuel economy of electrically driven cars.

GM and other automakers tend to list pricing of their electric vehicles net of the $7,500 federal tax credit. But those tax credits are limited to 200,000 cars per manufacturer, said Ewanick. That's enough for GM to launch back into electrification, he said. In the coming years, the company plans to use the Volt's powertrain, known as Voltec, in other models.

"Two hundred thousand vehicles gets us many years down the road and it gets the electric-vehicle market established," Ewanick said. "It's a good time frame to build awareness."

This article appeared originally on CNET
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    Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.