While the price is about $8,000 more than its closest rival, the Nissan Leaf, GM said it will offer a $350-per-month lease deal that's essentially equal to the Leaf's. That will put the battery-powered Volt within reach of many people, GM said.
Both cars also are eligible for a federal tax credit that will cut their prices by $7,500. The Volt would fall to $33,500 while the Leaf's would drop to $25,280 from nearly $33,000.
The Volt, a 4-door sedan, runs on battery power for up to 40 miles but has a small gasoline engine to generate electricity once the battery runs down. The gas engine can generate power to run the car another 300 miles.
That's a big selling point because some drivers worry about the battery going dead during trips. This so-called "range anxiety" dogged GM's experimental EV-1 electric car in the 1990s.
To give the car wider appeal, drivers must know "they're not going to get stranded," said Joel Ewanick, GM vice president U.S. marketing, as he announced the Volt's price at a conference in San Jose, Calif.
GM's lease deal is $350 a month for 36 months with $2,500 down. Nissan's lease plan is $349 per month for the same length of time with $1,995 down.
GM will unveil the Volt first in California, then in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Michigan and Texas. The cars will first be sold through 600 Chevrolet dealers. But in 12 to 18 months, dealers nationwide should offer the cars.
Nissan's Leaf, which goes on sale in December, can go up to 100 miles on a charge. The car doesn't have a gas engine and must be recharged once its battery is depleted.
Nissan spokeswoman Katherine Zachary said the Leaf itself emits no pollution and is designed for people whose daily travels are within its range.