The sticker price isn't changing on 2012 and 2013 Volts, but GM has… (Raymond Boyd, Getty Images )
In an effort to juice up tepid sales of its 2014 Chevrolet Volt, General Motors Co. will slash the sticker price by $5,000, to $34,995, including shipping.
The price cut makes the plug-in hybrid Volt more competitive with other rechargeable cars, including rival plug-in hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and all-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf.
Most of the big car companies have reduced the prices of their rechargeable vehicles this year because consumers have been slow to adopt the technology.
"It is a sign of the times," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Edmunds.com. "Consumers just aren't willing to pay the higher prices for these advanced propulsion systems on these cars."
Sales of electric cars, however, have improved since automakers started marketing a spate of cheaper lease deals this year.
"I fully expect Volt sales to improve," Krebs said. "They have not been good and inventories are building."
Through the first seven months of 2013, GM sold 11,643 Volts, a 9% increase over the same period last year. During the same period this year, sales of Chevrolet's Cruze, a gasoline-powered sedan of similar size, have jumped almost 24% to nearly 160,000.
Through June, the Volt was taking about 80 days to sell, well above the industry average of 61 days, Krebs said.
A plug-in hybrid, the Volt straddles the world of electric and gasoline cars. It has a large battery that can power the vehicle for 35 to 40 miles before a gasoline engine kicks in, extending the range by 300 miles.
GM said it could cut the price now because the car is not as expensive to manufacture. The new model is expected to arrive at dealerships later this month.
"We have made great strides in reducing costs as we gain experience with electric vehicles and their components," said Don Johnson, GM's U.S. vice president for Chevrolet sales and service.
Chevrolet isn't changing the sticker price on 2012 and 2013 models it's still trying to sell, but the automaker has already offered $5,000 rebates on those cars, along with discounted lease deals.
The price cut also will make the Volt show better to online shoppers that use services such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Cars.com to compare the cost and features of various models, GM said.
Volt buyers also would be eligible to receive as much as $7,500 in a federal tax credit and a $1,500 rebate from the state of California. Additionally, the car qualifies for a carpool lane sticker.
The car's new sticker price will more closely match competitors' newly discounted offerings. In January, Nissan dropped the starting price of its Leaf electric car by $6,400, to $29,650, including shipping. This year, Honda dropped the lease on its Fit EV to $259 a month, from $389, and threw in collision and vehicle theft coverage, maintenance, roadside assistance and a home charging station. Last month Ford cut the price of its 2014 Focus electric model by $4,000, to $35,995.