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USA: Chevy Volt misses first-year sales target

General Motors reported solid growth in vehicle sales this year, but its high-profile electric Chevy Volt fell short of targets.

The company reported today that it sold 7,671 Chevy Volts in 2011, fewer than the 10,000 it had expected to sell. There were more than 1,500 Volts sold in December, the best month since the car was launched in late 2010.

Sales of the Volt have been closely watched as a barometer both for uptake of electric vehicles and GM’s financial health.

Buyers receive a $7,500 federal tax credit for buying an electric car with a battery as large or larger than the Chevy Volt battery. But because of the cost of large batteries, electric cars still have a significantly higher price tag than conventional cars. The Volt price starts at $39,145, the Nissan Leaf starts at about $35,000, and Ford’s Focus Electric costs just under $40,000. The full $7,500 tax credit is available for each.
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