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General Motors Co. said Sunday its 2016 Chevrolet Volt — which has 31 percent more all-electric range than the first generation car, a sportier appearance and adds a fifth seat — will be priced about $1,175 cheaper than the current car.

The 2016 plug-in electric hybrid Volt will be available for $33,995 including destination fee, early in the second half of the year. Lease pricing will be available closer to its sale date, Chevy said.

Some analysts said the Volt's price may need to drop substantially to move more vehicles as sales have been sluggish. Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific Inc., told The Detroit News previously that the Volt's price would need to drop below $30,000 to increase sales volume.

GM said after an up to $7,500 federal tax credit, the 2016 Volt's price is as low as $26,495. Buyers in California, which represent about 40 percent of Volt purchasers, can get the new Volt for as low as $24,995, after state and federal incentives.

Chevrolet spokeswoman Michelle Malcho said the price drop gets the Volt more competitive with the Toyota Prius, which is the top vehicle traded in when people buy a Volt. The move also helps to satisfy current customers, she said.

"Volt owners will be able to have more of what they've been asking for: more range, more technology and at a price point that is competitive," Malcho said.

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The 2015 Prius, including destination fee, starts at $25,025.

Volt sales have fallen dramatically this year, down 46.1 percent through April to 2,779, compared with 5,154 through the same four months a year ago. In April, Chevy sold just 905 Volts, down 41.5 percent from April 2014.

Malcho said the slowdown can be attributed to customers waiting to buy the new Volt and because of low gasoline prices. Consumers are opting to buy other vehicles with gas prices cheap.

"Overall, electric vehicles aren't quite as strong as they were a year ago," she said.

GM leaders previously had high expectations for Volt sales that were not met. Former CEO Dan Akerson had wanted production to hit 60,000 annually by 2012 and at one point GM set a sales goal of 45,000 for 2012. GM has sold more than 75,000 in its first generation that debuted in late 2010.

The automaker originally priced the Volt around $40,000 and in 2013 cut the price by $5,000 to boost sales.

The 2016 Volt debuted in January at the North American International Auto Show. It features a more efficient two-motor drive unit, improved acceleration, better city/highway combined fuel economy for the gasoline engine that uses regular unleaded gas instead of premium, a more functional and and spacious interior and a lighter battery system.

"The next generation Chevrolet Volt delivers more technology, the ability to drive further between gas fill ups and now with even more value to our customers. It's what our loyal Volt owners told us they wanted," Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet car marketing, said in a statement. "We are confident we will continue to attract new customers to Volt with the vehicle's product improvements and attractive price."

GM plans to stop building the 2015 Volt in late May as it prepares for the switch to the next-generation. The car is built at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

Days supply for the Volt at the beginning of April was 211 days, up from 159 days a month earlier, according to data provided by LMC Automotive. In early April 2014, GM had 88 days supply of the Volt.

Bill Rinna, senior manager of North American forecasting for LMC Automotive, said the days supply number is "extremely high." But he says it may be somewhat misleading because GM is building up inventory for the Volt changeover.

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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