(USA Today) -- General Motors is offering big discounts to boost sales of the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in extended-range electric car that struggled to attract buyers until its price began dropping early this year.
Discounts run as high as $10,000 per Volt, according to figures from TrueCar.com, an auto-pricing website. They include low-interest financing and subsidized leases. Leases have run as cheap as $250 a month
Sales of the $39,995 car have quadrupled this year, and set a monthly record in August. They show that Americans, who have been slow to embrace electric cars, are willing to buy them if prices are low enough.
But electrics have a long way to go before they enter the mainstream and generate profits. Electrics and gas-electric hybrids account for 3.5% of U.S. auto sales this year.
GM is losing thousands of dollars on every Volt. News agency Reuters recently estimated losses run up to $49,000 a per car. GM denied the report. Volt's technology is also going into other cars, such as a new small Cadillac under development.
The Chevrolet Volt can run about 25 miles on its batteries and electric motors before a gas engine takes over to generate the electricity. Because it can be recharged by plugging in, owners rarely need to fill up at gas stations. But the car has been controversial because of the government bailout of General Motors and its cost.