Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

General Motors' recently hired vice-president for sales and marketing Joel Ewanick took the stage at the Plug-In 2010 conference in San Jose, CA today and finally revealed that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt will have a base price of $41,000 (including the $720 destination charge) before federal and state tax incentives. While GM hasn't gone as aggressive as most people had hoped on the sticker price, the real deal appears to be the $350 per month for a 36-month lease. That matches the monthly payment that Nissan is charging for the Leaf electric car.

To be fair, Volt buyers will be getting a lot of brand new technology for their money, but this isn't a price tag that is going to shock most industry insiders the way, say, a $39,000 MSRP would have. That job was handled admirably by the Volt's only major OEM plug-in competitor, the Leaf, which blasted into the price lead this spring with an after-rebate price of $25,280.

With the $7,500 federal tax credit, the effective purchase price of the Volt will be cut to $33,500, but buyers will have to finance the $41,000 and get the credit back on their next tax return. Lease customers will have the credit factored in to the payment. The Volt lease requires a $2,500 down payment (vs. $2,000 for the Leaf) but GM is including a clause in the lease contract that allows customers to buy the car at the end of the term so that they don't have another EV1 standoff.

We're in San Jose for Plug-In 2010 and will bring you more news on the Volt price throughout the day as we learn about the hows and why of the situation. Until then, let's talk about the important question: now that we know, finally, what the Volt will cost, does that make you want it more or less? Learn more about the Volt cost and the order process after the jump.

Photos by Sam Abuelsamid / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

The base sticker price gets customers a very well equipped car that includes standard navigation with seven-inch screen, the eight-year/100,000 mile battery warranty, Bluetooth connectivity, Bose audio system and five years of OnStar service included. The OnStar service, which includes turn-by-turn directions and the mobile applications, normally costs $300 per year. The only available options for the Volt are heated leather seats, chrome wheels, three premium paint colors and rear park assist.

We asked GM spokesman Randy Fox about the high-level of standard equipment. When the two-mode hybrid SUVs were launched, they were only available in a highly contented form like this which led to a very high sticker price and, subsequently, low sales. According to Fox, the early build combinations are being kept simple and the expectation is that there will be sufficient demand to absorb these early vehicles. Within a year or two, as production ramps up, GM will begin offering the Volt with less content and a lower price point. Apparently, we now know the cost of being an early adopter.

Based on the lease price, GM is clearly confident that the Volt will be successful and retain a high residual value at the end of the three year lease term. The Volt goes on sale in December of this year in seven markets and within 12-18 months GM expects it to be available nationally. Despite the price point, there is expected to be enough initial demand that at least some dealers will be tempted to charge an extra markup. Although the automaker has no real power to stop retailers from charging whatever the market will bear, Ewanick acknowledged that dealers will be discouraged from doing that.

Ewanick also outlined the ordering process for the Volt. Initially, 600 Chevrolet dealers in the launch markets will be certified to sell and service the Volt. Customers can find these dealers through the Get My Volt website. Once they find a local dealer, the process proceeds much like ordering any other car with customers paying a deposit and filing out order forms. Once the car has been ordered, Volt customer service advisors will contact the customer and take them through a survey to determine if they are eligible for one of the free Department of Energy-funded home charging units from Coulomb Technologies or Ecotality.

If buyers don't live in one of the eligible areas, they will be referred to another charger supplier that GM will be working with. Because the Volt's 16 kilowatt-hour battery pack can be charged in just 8-10 hours from a 110 volt outlet, customers don't actually have to get a 220 volt charger for the Volt, potentially saving them several thousand dollars compared to a pure battery vehicle like the Leaf. GM will be naming its preferred charger supplier and a price closer to the on-sale date.

Customers will be able to use the Get My Volt site to monitor the build of their vehicle and get more information about the car even after delivery.

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