A Discounted Chevy Volt May Have Changed the Electric Car Equation

Back in 1998 I remember looking at pictures of and reading reviews for Gm’s first mass produced electric vehicle, the Saturn EV1. I was in awe, the idea of plugging my car into my garage outlet was and still is amazing. I can recall turning to my college roommate and saying, “In like 20 years, we will all be driving cars like this.” Well nearly 15 years later the American car buying public is not as close to that goal as many of us would like.

But all is not lost. Today several car manufacturers are offering a wide range of electric vehicles.

 Tesla motors, an America car maker out of California, has just launched it’s second electric car, the Model S.  In a more affordable price range are the Nissan Leaf, the soon to be launched Ford Focus EV, and the current poster child for the hybrid/EV movement the Chevy Volt.

I recently bought a new car last year and as much as owning an EV vehicle appeals to me, even with a $7500 federal credit, I had to turn them down.

  • The Tesla Model S is gorgeous. Almost every review I find is glowing. The 230-300 mile range is more then enough for most drivers needs. This really is the future of cars and I think Tesla will continue to grow and succeed. The only trouble, cost. The Model S starts at $50,000 and can quickly near $100,000 with options. If I could afford that I would gladly pay it, but I can’t. One day Tesla.
  • The Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV are much more affordable than the Model S. I love my gas powered Ford Focus, so the EV version is certainly appealing. Where the Focus EV loses me is the range and price. The battery will take you 75-80 miles per charge and the Focus EV cost around $35,000. I am not willing to pay that much for what would need to be a second car. At around $28,000 the Nissan leaf is more appealing, but that’s still too high of a price for 80 miles of range and I personally don’t like the way it looks.
  • The Chevy Volt might offer the best compromise right now. It has a 38 mile battery range. After that runs out a gasoline powered generator takes over. You can drive as far as you like on gas. This option stops the Volt from being a secondary or commuter car. Once again though, price stopped me from choosing this vehicle. At $33.000 I could not afford the Volt.

So that was that and I found myself saying “Maybe next time” once again. The battery and EV technology should continue to improve and come down in price. Eventually the range and cost will reach a point where it will make sense for me to buy an electric car.

Then something changed. I read an article in the “Washington Times” stating that Chevy Volts were selling $10,000 below sticker price or with severely reduced leases. Here is an excerpt:

“GM spokesman Jim Cain said most of the Volt discounts come in the form of lease deals, which account for about two-thirds of sales. In some markets, Volts can be leased for $249 per month with $2,400 down.”

At $250-$300 a month to lease a Volt the math really shifts in Chevrolet’s favor.  Most comparable gas only cars cost more then this to lease and that doesn’t even factor in the fuel savings.

Let’s say your commute is 30 miles round trip and the average gas car gets 30 miles per gallon. You are saving a gallon of gas a day or around 4 bucks. Your yearly savings would be between $1000- $1500 dollars. You would have to find a vehicle with a $140-$190 dollar month lease rate to off set that difference. It’s possible to find such a rate, but it would most likely be for a much smaller car with less options.

Keep in mind that the cost of gas is most likely only going to go up in the future. This would improve the value of ownership for the Chevy Volt. In 2014 you could be rolling past gas stations advertising $6 a gallon for a gallon of go juice.

Owning a green car also has a few other perks, like free charging and access to reserved parkings spot as well as the use of the HOV highway lanes. Free energy and less time in traffic maybe the icing on the Chevy Volt cake.

At sticker price the Chevy Volt just didn’t work, at $250 a month to lease this EV/Hybrid is very hard to ignore.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Intro, Quality of Life