Last month, the Nissan Leaf passed the Chevrolet Volt to take this year's top spot among plug-in electric cars for sale.

Now Chevy is fighting back.

It announced that it will offer $5,000 cash back on remaining 2012 Volt range-extended electric cars, and $4,000 on 2013 models, according to Chevrolet spokespeople quoted yesterday.

The carmaker's inventory of Volts has risen to 140 days' worth of sales, more than double the 60 days that automakers consider optimal to keep dealers supplied with cars while minimizing inventory.

The sales incentives are the latest evidence of a small price war among makers of plug-in electric cars.

With domestic production of the 2013 Nissan Leaf now underway in Tennessee, Nissan is working aggressively with its dealers to boost sales beyond their current level of about 2,000 cars a month.

To ensure that it sells enough battery-electric models to meet its legal requirement under California zero-emission vehicle rules, last month Honda lowered its Fit EV lease price to $259 a month from $389. It also eliminated the cap on miles driven each year.

That brought the Fit EV into the company of other makers who have instituted low-price leases, including the $199-a-month pricing offered on the Leaf and the Ford Focus Electric.

That's the price at which the the upcoming Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e will be offered as well.

Currently, Chevrolet also offers a $269-per-month lease rate on new Volts with a down payment of $2,399.

The cash-back incentive deal will run through the end of June, Chevy said.

The new price incentives were widely covered by multiple outlets, including CNBC and The Detroit News.


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