Nissan announced the price for its new electric car, the Leaf, today. It will only cost around $25,000, after a $7,500 government rebate. That's significantly cheaper than early reports indicated for the price of the plug-in Chevy Volt hybrid -- $32,500 after rebate. Does that mean Nissan will win the electric car war? Not necessarily, but perhaps.
Volt's Price Isn't Finalized
First, it should be noted that the Chevy Volt may turn out to cost buyers less than the $32,500 initially reported. Some rumblings since then have indicated that GM may be trying to get the price down. But that might not be easy, since it appears that Nissan's cheaper version might be due to superior technology the automaker developed. The Washington Post says:
The relative affordability of the announced price surprised some industry observers. Nissan officials say that breakthroughs in research on batteries, combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit for the battery-powered cars, has enabled the company to make the cars available at that price.
So unless GM has the same research, the Volt might not escape a higher price tag.
The Leaf Isn't A Volt
To be fair, these vehicles are not the same. The Leaf is a purely electric car that runs on its battery alone. The Volt is a plug-in hybrid, so the gasoline power kicks in when you run out of charge. That provides the Volt with an advantage. After 100 miles in the Leaf, you must find a charging station. The Volt's battery only lasts 40 miles, but it can still drive much further after one charge. In fact, GM claims that the Volt can rack up hundreds of miles on a single charge, as the gasoline power will recharge the battery en route.