GM releases the Bolt, its cheapest electric car, while Poland aims for a million EVs on its roads by 2025

General Motors has said its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle will cost less than $30,000 (£23,000) after tax breaks in a bid to bring the technology to mainstream consumers.

The price is significantly cheaper than the average new US vehicle with the least expensive Bolt starting at $37,495 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, meaning it would sell for $29,995. The average price of a new car in the US was $34,143 in August, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The Bolt will have a driving range of 238 miles on a full charge, substantially more than any electric vehicle (EV) currently available at a similar price.

However, analysts familiar with GM's plans say the Bolt will initially be a low-volume niche model with production of fewer than 30,000 cars per year. Fully electric cars currently account for less than 1 per cent of US car and light truck sales.

In January, Ernest Moniz, energy secretary for the US, admitted that the country will probably not see one million EVs on its roads until 2020 at the earliest, despite a previous goal set by President Barack Obama in 2008 of seeing this figure by 2015. 

GM executives had signalled the Bolt's price would be close to $37,500 but, with the price now set, GM will accelerate efforts to steal thunder from rival Tesla Motors, which has promised to deliver its new Model 3 next July with 215 miles of driving range on a full charge at a price of $35,000.

Steve Majoros, Chevrolet manager for car and crossover marketing, would not say in an interview on Monday what GM's production volumes will be or how many orders the automaker has for the Bolt. He said interest in the vehicle is strong, including from corporate and government fleets.

GM also plans to deliver Bolts to its ride-services partner Lyft, which recently claimed that it would launch a driverless taxi service to consumers within the next five years. 

Meanwhile, Poland has announced it wants to have one million EVs on its roads by 2025 by offering tax and other incentives as it seeks to cut carbon emissions from transport.

The country is one of the biggest polluters in Europe as it has maintained coal-fuelled power stations as its major source of energy. Some Polish towns, particularly in the south, also choke in smog due to traffic fumes and coal burning in homes.

"The project will contribute to improving the environment in our country," Deputy Energy Minister Michal Kurtyka told a news conference.

The ministry said that by 2018 it wants to introduce new laws that would regulate the development of EVs, launch special funds to help start production and create prototypes of Polish electric cars.

Last week Poland's four biggest power producers, PGE, Tauron, Enea and Energa, said they plan to set up a company, ElectroMobilityPoland, to promote the use of electric cars, although it is unclear whether they would actually make the cars.

"We would like this technological breakthrough to take place to the advantage of Polish entrepreneurs," Kurtyka said.

There are few electric cars currently in use in Poland. To promote their use, the energy ministry said it planned to introduce tax relief for EV owners as well as subsidies for the first 100,000 cars.

A Mexican firm recently demonstrated how cars with traditional engines can be converted to EVs at what it claims is a much lower cost than purchasing an entirely new vehicle. 

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