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Volt joins electric car price war

GM's Chevy Volts on the assembly line in Detroit, Michigan.
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GM's Chevy Volts on the assembly line in Detroit, Michigan.

With Chevy Volt sales lagging and inventory backing up, General Motors is offering up to $5,000 cash back in hopes of spurring greater sales of the extended-range electric car.

The new deal—which runs through the end of the month—is just one example of an automaker sweetening the deal for electric cars that have seen modest, but not spectacular growth.

The automaker's new deal means $5,000 cash back on the limited number of '12 Chevy Volts still in showrooms and $4,000 cash back on '13 volt models. This means the price of a Volt—which starts at $39,995—could eventually drop as low as $27,495 once the cash back offer and a federal tax credit are factored in.

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"We made this decision to give our dealers another option for buyers," said Jim Cain, a spokesman for General Motors. GM also offers a 3 year lease on the Volt for $269/month and $2,399 down payment or 0 percent financing for 48 months and $3,000 cash back. Cain said those options did not work for some customers so the automaker rolled out the new cash back offers.

GM needs to spur sales of the Volt since inventory on the extended-range electric car now sits at 140 days. That is more than double the target inventory rate for most automakers of 60-65 days supply.

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Year-to-date GM has sold 7,157 Chevy Volts, a 1.4 percent increase compared to the same time period last year. This year, industry sales in the U.S. are up 7.3 percent.

Earlier this year Nissan cut the cost of a monthly lease on the all-electric LEAF by a third to $199/month. That move sparked a jump in sales of the LEAF and has prompted other automakers to respond with newer, more lucrative deals for their electric cars.

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—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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