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VW's new e-Golf model priced in U.S. to compete with Nissan Leaf

A man walks past a screen displaying a logo of Volkswagen at an event in New Delhi, India, June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

DETROIT (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) entry-level electric car, the e-Golf SE, will be priced about $4,500 lower than VW's current lowest-priced electric car, the company said on Wednesday.

The lower price for the new 2016 model, to be introduced in part of the U.S. market this fall, is an attempt to compete with the Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> Leaf, which is the U.S. sales leader for fully electric cars, said VW of America in a statement.

At $29,815, the starting price for the 2016 e-Golf SE - which includes destination charges - will be $55 lower than that of the 2015 Nissan Leaf. Nissan has yet to announce any details for its 2016 Leaf.

The 2016 e-Golf SE and its premium stablemate, the e-Golf SEL, will be sold in 10 U.S. states in the Northeast and Pacific Coast. Most are likely to be sold in California, said Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies.

U.S. sales for fully electric vehicles including the Nissan Leaf have fallen this year as gasoline prices have dropped. Average prices at the pump on Tuesday were $2.63, down 25 percent from a year ago, according to the AAA travel group.

Leaf U.S. sales through July were down 30 percent at nearly 11,000. VW's has sold 1,831 e-Golf SEL premium and e-Golf Limited versions this year.

Sales of plug-in hybrids have also declined this year. Sales of Toyota Motor Corp's <7201.T> Prius Plug-In Hybrid have dropped 67 percent and sales of General Motors Co's (GM.N) Volt have fallen 35 percent.

The 2015 e-Golf SEL model was introduced last November. The price for the SEL 2016 model will rise $150 to $36,415.

The e-Golf Limited version, priced about $2,000 lower than the SEL version, is being discontinued, Gillies said.

The 2015 e-Golf models have a range of 83 miles on a full charge and, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have a miles per gallon equivalent of 126 in city driving and 105 on the highway.

VW and Nissan are among automakers racing to add range to their lower-priced fully electric cars. [ID:nL2N0WQ19Z]

Volkswagen does not sell its e-Golf models in Canada.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall)