San Jose, Calif.--The pricing for the Volt has been announced, and the car isn't as cheap as the Leaf.

General Motors said today that the Volt, the gas-electric series hybrid that comes out later this year, will sell for $41,000 before federal tax credits of $7,500 and any state tax credits. The total credits can run up to $12,500, which would bring the price down to below $29,000. (Note: The Volt does not qualify for California's $5,000 credit, but regulations change.)

Still, that puts the car above the Nissan Leaf, which starts at $32,780 before tax incentives. After incentives, the Leaf will cost close to $20,000. Both General Motors and Nissan are touting their cars today at Plug-In 2010, which is taking place in San Jose. (Governor Arnold was going to speak but did not show.)

The Nissan Leaf is all-electric and comes with a 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The Volt, meanwhile, contains a smaller 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a small gas engine that recharges the battery while driving. (The gas engine thus gives the Volt a longer range on a single charge.) The battery is the most expensive component of an electric car.

So why doesn't the Volt cost less? GM put more battery in the Volt than the all-electric range for driving (40 miles) actually needs to get around. The larger battery extends the life of the car, but adds cost, as does having that gas motor. Fisker Automotive's cars will also sport a gas-electric series hybrid design. It is an interesting concept, but not one that is easy to build in a cost-effective manner. 

GM execs earlier have said that the car could cost in the low $30,000 range after tax breaks and under $40,000 before tax credits. Thus, the company came close to meeting its goals, winding up a little on the high side. The bigger issue, perhaps, is that the price gap between the Volt and the Nissan is more than $8,000 and more in California.

Both Nissan and General Motors will offer similar warranties: eight years and 100,000 miles.  Both companies will release their cars later this year.

Nissan, though, leads in stated production volume. GM will produce 10,000 Volts through 2011 and 30,000 more in 2012. Nissan will produce 50,000 in the first year of production and by late 2012 its factories in Tennessee will be capable of producing 150,000 Leafs a year in the U.S. and 200,000 batteries.

Elsewhere at the event, Carlos Tavares, a member of the board at Nissan, said that the company will look at different types of electrics beyond the Leaf. The second product will likely be an all-electric light commercial vehicle. An electric Infiniti, likely to compete against the Tesla Motors Model S, will then follow.

Nissan could conceivably look at sports cars and SUVs. It depends on consumer demand and how large the battery has to be.

The company, meanwhile, doesn't still see much of a future for battery swapping stations in the U.S. Most customers will charge their cars at home.

"The gas station will be the customer's private garage," he said.

A good portion of the initial wave of public charging stations will be installed at hotels, retail outlets and places like that, Tavares added. There, retailers will offer free power to draw in customers.

"Not having the swapping capability is not an issue," in the U.S., he said.

 

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