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GM defends Volt pricing

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GM defends Volt pricing



General Motors defended the price of the Chevrolet Volt today, saying it is actually a great value at a starting price of $41,000, even though both popular commentators and industry insiders have questioned the price since it was announced last week.

“I look at it and say with a federal tax credit, it is $33,500,” Larry Nitz, GM’s executive director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering said following a presentation at the 2010 CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City. “We think there will be a plentiful supply of customers at that price.”

The Volt's closest rival, Nissan’s all-electric Leaf, starts at $33,000. Leaf buyers also are eligible for a $7,500 tax rebate, taking it down to $26,000.

Last week, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh tore into the Volt and its price and today, Barb Samardzich, Ford’s vice president of global powertrain engineering, questioned the price.

“Our perspective is we want to be able to provide a solution that works for all of our customers, and at $40,000 or $41,000, you are taking a lot of customers out of that equation,” Samardzich said.

Ford is planning to introduce an electric version of its Transit Connect commercial van later this year as well as an electric version of the Ford Focus compact car next year but has not announced the price of either vehicle.

Nitz also argues that the Volt, scheduled to go on sale late this year, is in class of its own because after driving 40 miles the Volt's gasoline engine kicks in, giving it about 300 additional miles of range. The Leaf, in contrast, must be recharged after about 100 miles.

“It’s in a market of its own,” Nitz said. “Where else are you going to go to get one of these things? There is no other choice.”

On Friday, GM said it plans to produce 45,000 Volts in 2012, 50% more than initial production estimates.

“Look, it’s not like we’re trying to sell two million of these,” Nitz said today.



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