Industry analysts have given a cautious welcome to General Motors’ pricing of the Volt range-extender hybrid.
The Chevrolet will go on sale in the US at the end of the year costing from $41,000 (£25,700).
Confirmed late last week, the price tag is broadly in line with expected figures — although some had predicted that it would fall slightly in response to the arrival of the Nissan Leaf, which will cost American buyers around $9000 (£5775) less.
Government-backed tax incentives could reduce the cost of the Volt to around $33,500 (£21,500). But industry analysts believe that the price of leasing will prove more important to the car’s success or failure.
Both the Volt and Leaf will cost about $350 (£225) per month with tax incentives taken into account, a figure that puts the cars into the near-luxury segment.
Joe Philippi of AutoTrends Consulting said GM’s figure is realistic. “If they execute Volt as well as other recent GM offerings they’ll be fine,” he commented.
The Volt faces another disadvantage in California, which is likely to be one of its key markets.
The state’s Air Resource Board has been promoting alternative power by giving certain models access to motorway commuter lanes, but plug-in range extenders like the Volt don’t qualify.
The High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) passes will be offered to all-electric cars such as the Leaf and some alternative fuel cars, including Honda’s natural gas Civic and hydrogen-fuelled FCX Clarity.
But Volt buyers won’t be able to get the pass, which can be as attractive an incentive as the $5000 (£3200) cash that California will also offer Leaf owners.
Old-style hybrids such as the Toyota Prius will also be excluded from HOV status from late this year.
Tony Posawatz, manager of the Volt programme, said he was disappointed with the Californian situation. But he insisted, “It won’t have trouble selling.”
GM also plans minor changes to the Volt’s exhaust system within a year of launch, in a bid to earn HOV status.
GM has yet to announce any UK pricing for the Volt, which is due on sale here in spring 2012. But insiders say it’s likely to cost just shy of £30,000.