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EV sticker shock here for now

EV sticker shock here for now

GM and Nissan have electrified not only their cars but visions of the automotive future with this year's release of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. But prices of these and other plug-in electric vehicles may give some buyers electric sticker shock. The Leaf starts at nearly $33,000 and the Volt, which has a backup gas engine, tops $40,000, both higher than the average new car price of roughly $29,000. Other, lesser-known plug-ins are even pricier.

And prices aren't likely to drop for years, because the biggest component of cost in plug-ins is the battery pack, a technology that's in its infancy for use in cars.

Although manufacturers do not discuss the cost of the packs,...