• Chevrolet Volt now offered with $5,000 cash back
  • Brand trying to clear out inventory before 2014 arrives
  • Cash incentive in addition to $7,500 federal tax credit

Chevrolet has officially announced a major incentive to spur sales of its Volt plug-in hybrid. The brand says it's offering up to $5,000 cash on the 2012 Volt and $4,000 on the 2013 model to boost sales and clear inventory.

The move is necessary because the Volt is in heavy supply at dealerships. Chevrolet currently has a 140-day supply of the plug-in hybrid hatchback. In other words, it has enough Volts to last for 140 days -- or nearly five months -- at the current sales rate. That's twice the General Motors average "days supply" figure, which stands at around 73 days.

The large incentives should help lower that figure. They'll also clear out dealer stock of the 2012 and 2013 Volts before the 2014 model goes on sale later this year.

Chevrolet points out that the cash incentives are in addition to major federal tax incentives for shoppers who buy the plug-in Volt. Those who buy a 2012 Volt can get up to $5,000 back from Chevrolet and another $7,500 back on their federal income taxes. That transforms the 2012 Volt's price from nearly $40,000 to around $28,000 after shipping.

Shoppers also can get a good lease deal this month on the Volt. Through the end of June, Chevrolet is offering a 36-month lease with payments starting at $269 per month. The only caveat is the deal requires around $2,400 down.

The Volt is just the latest electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle to advertise major incentives. FIAT recently announced its all-electric 500e can be leased with $999 down and $199 per month for 36 months. And the Honda Fit EV starts at $259 per month with no down payment. Lease deals on electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles are so strong because leasing companies can take the tax credit and pass the savings onto the driver.

The Volt originally came out in December 2010 as a 2011 model. Sales of the 5-door hatchback are actually up slightly this year over 2012. The Volt offers a fully electric motor that provides around 35 miles of range, plus a 1.4-liter "range-extending" gasoline 4-cylinder. An upscale Cadillac version, dubbed the ELR, is scheduled to go on sale later this year.

What it means to you: If you've been considering a Chevrolet Volt, we suggest buying now before the brand takes away this major incentive.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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