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GM plans to build a more affordable Chevy Volt

The Volt has won nearly every major award offered and stirred up tons of interest, but one criticism persists: The price is way too high.

Chevy cars — including the Volt — have always been intended for a mainstream market, but at $41,000, it seems GM is asking buyers to pay as they might for a Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

The next-generation Volt will almost certainly cost less, GM spokesman Rob Peterson said. And the same changes that make it cheaper should make it better, too.

So what’s the sweet spot for the Volt, price wise? A $7,500 federal tax credit takes the cost down to around $30,000. That seems like a more viable price, but tax credits wont last forever.

“The ideal price point for un-subsidized large-volume sales would probably be no more than $30,000,” said John O’Dell, editor of the Web site GreenCarAdvisor.com.

Fortunately, even when subsidies disappear, today’s high prices for electric cars will ease as the technology improves and gains wider appeal.
0:00 /2:11GM CEO on plans for Volt technology

Battery: The Volt’s battery pack is estimated to cost about $10,000. Besides making it more cheaply, GM might simply want to shrink it.

The battery is probably more powerful than it really needs to be, said Oliver Hazimeh, head of the electric vehicle practice at consulting firm PRTM.

“Offering customers a little of different capacity may be an option, so you can provide customers with a choice,” Hazimeh said.

For a significant cost savings, some customers may be willing to give-up some battery power.

Bulk up production: Another way to reduce battery costs is to sell more Volts, or more vehicles based on Volt technology, Hazimeh said.

“It’s hard to look at this technology and make a business case out of it with one vehicle,” Hazimeh said.

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