Dealers Price-Gouging for Volt and LEAF?

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With gas prices hovering around the $4 mark in parts of the United States, the demand for the few electric cars that are for sale is skyrocketing. Now there are reports that dealers are taking advantage of the situation, price-gouging for Chevrolet Volts and Nissan LEAFs.

A report on PluginCars.com said it has been hearing about premiums ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 on top of the MSRP for a Volt from Chevy dealers.

Now it appears Nissan dealers are getting in on the act.

"Gouging is alive and well, and will be increasing as the Leaf arrives in the U.S.," posted "Laura in Marin," a user on PluginCars.com.

The site wrote:

In the past few days, she called more than 15 Nissan dealers throughout Northern California, hoping to find a LEAF that had been pre-ordered but not claimed. Laura thought she had found one at Nissan Santa Cruz—that is, if she was willing to rush to the dealership and pay $5,000 above MSRP. A few hours later, she was told the car was already leased to another customer. "They are promoting bidding wars, and they have no concept of customer service."

Dealers are not shy about openly talking about hiking prices. PluginCars.com reports that in January, Paul Scott, a salesman at Nissan Santa Monica told the site: "We're going to sell [the LEAF] to whoever pays the most for it. We have a long list of people willing to pay way over MSRP."

Nissan and General Motors both say that they discourage dealers from charging above MSRP, but that ultimately they can't control what their dealers charge.

The worst case of price-gouging comes from Motor Trend, which reported that a Florida Chevy dealership wanted $65,590 for a Volt -- the MSRP is $41,000.

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