Summer EV Competition Heats Up

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The electric-vehicle market may be a small niche segment, but you wouldn't know by the price wars going on right now. The latest cuts come from General Motors' slashing $5,000 off the cost of the 2014 Chevy Volt -- a move intended to boost sales.

Consumers looking for great EV deals won't be disappointed, and as the amount of EV models grows, it looks as if lower prices may be the new normal.

2013 Chevrolet Volt. Source: GM.

Drop it like it's hot
Since the beginning of 2013, nearly every automobile manufacturer has dropped the price of its EV vehicles. If you haven't been keeping up -- and honestly, who can? -- here's a quick rundown of the changes:

  • The 2014 Chevy Volt costs $5,000 less than its beginning price in 2013.
  • Nissan dropped the Leaf price by $6,400 earlier this year. 
  • Honda slashed more than $100 per month off the Fit EV lease in May. 
  • Ford knocked off $4,000 from Focus EV price last month. 
  • Daimler took off 30% off the monthly lease for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive just days ago. 
  • Tesla hasn't lowered its Model S price, but it introduced a lease-to-own option back in April. 

The Volt's price drop comes amid rising Leaf sales. Last month, Nissan sold 1,864 Leafs, compared with 1,788 Volt sales. It's not just Nissan and Chevy that are in a back-and-forth battle, though. The entire EV industry is on the cusp of increasing competition.

The more the merrier
The International Energy Agency reported that in 2011, just 45,000 electric vehicles were sold worldwide and that in 2012 that number jumped to 113,000. According to Autodata, nearly 49,000 electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. so far this year. Right now, Tesla takes the No. 1 spot for electric-vehicle sales, with the Leaf and Volt following behind.

Nissan Leaf. Source: Nissan.

Part of the sales increase has come from the overall spike in electric-vehicle models on the market. This year there are more than a dozen electrified vehicles for sale, and more competitors, such as the BMW i3, are coming soon. As more electric cars enter the market, consumers can expect the pricing wars to continue, but that's not the only thing that will help lower costs.

The Electrification Coalition said that in 2008, the price per kilowatt hour for EV batteries was as high as $1,000 -- but that number is expected to drop to about $35/kWh by 2020. If battery technology progresses quickly enough -- along with increasing electric-vehicle sales -- investors and consumers may be looking at a bright future for EVs.

Investors should continue tracking EV sales, along with possible battery price drops, to keep a pulse on the overall industry. With GM and others dropping their EV prices, it's likely that we haven't seen the bottom of electric-car deals -- and that could be a very good thing for sales.

While the electric-vehicle segment is expanding, there's no more important automotive market right now than China. The country is already the world's largest auto market -- and it's set to grow even bigger in coming years. A recent Motley Fool report, "2 Automakers to Buy for a Surging Chinese Market," names two global giants poised to reap big gains that could drive big rewards for investors. You can read this report right now for free -- just click here for instant access.

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Fool contributor Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, General Motors, and Tesla Motors and owns shares of Ford and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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