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General Motors today announced that it is ramping up sales of its plug-in hybrid electric car, the Chevy Volt, in two new states: North Carolina and South Carolina.

Like other new electric cars, the Volt is only available in a few states. Before today’s announcement, it was available in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut, California, Michigan and Texas, a representative of the company said. The Leaf initially rolled out in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. California is the only state where the two cars overlap right now. Volt deliveries will begin in North Carolina and South Carolina in August, company officials said.

Nissan has taken the lead in the small, but fiercely competitive, low-end electric car market. The company sold 1,708 Leaf cars in June. That puts it well ahead of General Motors, which sold 561 of its hybrid electric Volt cars in the same month. Nissan has now sold 3,875 Leafs compared to General Motors’ 2,745 Volts sold in the first half of the year. Sales likely didn’t grow as quickly as the Leaf because General Motors said it was pulling back on its Volt supply to issue more demonstration cars to dealerships.

General Motors recently slashed the price of the Volt to around $40,000 to make it more competitive with the Nissan Leaf. The 2011 Nissan Leaf sells for $32,780, while the 2011 Chevy Volt costs around $41,000 prior to the price cut. Electric car buyers can apply for a federal tax credit that can bring the price down by $7,500.

While the cars operate in very different ways, they’re both designed to attract mainstream car buyers looking for a more environmentally friendly option or a way to save money on gas. The Volt has an equivalent fuel efficiency rating of 93 miles per gallon while it is running on pure electric power, and the Leaf has an equivalent fuel efficiency rating of 99 miles per gallon.

The Volt has a traditional internal combustion engine and an engine powered by a battery jammed into the same vehicle. The car can run around 35 miles off battery power before the internal combustion engine kicks in, giving the car a total range north of 300 miles on a full charge and full tank of gas. The Leaf is a pure plug-in electric car that can travel around 100 miles on battery power before it needs to recharge.

Nissan recently went on the offensive by taking a shot at the Volt in a television advertisement. Sales of both electric cars were neck-and-neck for several months and only differ by around 17 cars shipped at the end of May.

Most electric car buyers are more concerned about how long it takes to charge the car and how far it is able to drive than the actual price of the electric car, according to a report by Accenture. Pure plug-in electric cars are typically limited in how far they will go on a charge, and they can take a long time to recharge.

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