U.S. government scores a discount on home-grown Chevy Volt

Wed May 25, 2011 7:14pm EDT

The U.S. government is purchasing 116 plug-in electric and hybrid electric vehicles for its vehicle fleet — and it is picking up a nice discount on General Motors’ Chevy Volt, the same company it made a significant investment in to prevent the car manufacturer from failing.

The government is purchasing more than 100 Chevy Volts and is paying $38,500 for each one, which is under the car’s manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $41,000. Individual car buyers get a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a Volt because it is a plug-in electric hybrid that has better fuel efficiency. That tax credit would bring the actual price down to $33,500 — slightly more than the cost of the pure plug-in electric Nissan Leaf. So the U.S. government is getting a slight discount for purchasing the 100 plus Volts.

In contrast, the government is actually paying slightly more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Nissan Leaf — which retails for $32,780. The government is paying $33,000 for each Leaf, which is also eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. That means individual car buyers eligible for the tax credit could pay as little as $25,280 for a Nissan Leaf. The report did not indicate how many Leafs the U.S. government is buying.

The Volt has a traditional internal combustion engine and an engine powered by a battery jammed into the same vehicle. The car can run around 35 miles off battery power before the internal combustion engine kicks in, giving the car a total range north of 300 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas. It’s one of the cheaper electric cars on the market. The Nissan Leaf — another one of the cheapest electric cars on the market — is a pure electric car that can travel around 100 miles before it needs to recharge.

The purchase is part of the government’s ambitious plan to have more than 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. The U.S. government expects GM to sell around 500,000 Volts by 2015 and Nissan to sell 300,000 Leafs by 2015. GM recently increased its sales target for the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera, an international version of the Volt, to 16,000 total cars this year.

Tags: Chevy Volt, Electric car, electric vehicle, General Motors Volt, GM Volt, hybrid, Leaf, Nissan Leaf, Volt

Companies: General Motors, Nissan