General Motors is suspending production of its extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt for five weeks. The production suspension is needed to keep current Volt inventory levels from getting too high, The Detroit News reports.

Sales of the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt haven’t been at the levels GM had hoped for. “GM had a set a goal of selling 10,000 Volts by the end of 2011, but was only able to sell about 7,600 by then,” CNNMoney reports.

February U.S. sales of the Volt were up from 603 units in January to 1,023 in February, according to The Detroit News. Despite the sales increase, the Volt’s current inventory level of 3,596 cars is higher than normal.

The $39,145 Volt is more expensive than competing hybrids and all-electric vehicles. The 2012 Toyota Prius starts at $24,000 and the 2012 Nissan Leaf has a base price of $35,200. “Yet at a price of about $41,000, or lease payments of about $350 a month, Volt simply doesn’t scream ‘Deal!’ to many Americans, especially with more fuel-economic alternatives such as optimized gasoline engines and high-yielding diesel power,” Forbes reports. 

The five-week production shutdown will start March 19, and is “the second extended shutdown since late December,” the Detroit Free Press reports. Chevrolet stopped Volt production in December to perform structural enhancements to better protect the battery pack in the event of a crash.

If you’re considering a 2012 Chevrolet Volt, now is a good time to get one, as dealers are looking to sell down their current inventory. Chevrolet usually offers a lease deal on the Volt, and in March, shoppers can lease one for $349 a month for 36 months with $2,499 due at signing. The lease offer would total about $15,063. New for March is a Chevrolet purchase deal on the Volt. Shoppers can purchase the Volt with zero-percent financing for five years. With an MSRP of $39,145, Volt payments would be about $652 a month with no down payment through Chevrolet’s interest-free purchase deal. Volt buyers may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

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