At $41,000, Is the Chevy Volt a Good Deal?

Weighing the cost of going electric

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The wait is over. GM has unveiled the price of its extended-range electric sedan, the Chevy Volt. Before federal and state incentives, the car's suggested base price is $41,000. The Volt's electric battery stores enough charge to go 40 miles and then the gas engine kicks in, extending the range an additional 300 miles. That's a big advantage over its forthcoming competitor the Nissan Leaf, which is all-electric and has a range of only 100 miles. The $7,500 federal tax credit brings the price down to $33,500. So is it a good deal?

While GM hasn't gone as aggressive as most people had hoped on the sticker price, the real deal appears to be the $350 per month for 36 months lease. That matches the monthly payment that Nissan is charging for the Leaf EV.

The effective purchase price of the Volt will be cut to $33,500 with a $7,500 federal tax credit (hence the asterisk in the title), but buyers will have to finance the $41,000 and get the credit back on their next tax return. Lease customers will have the credit factored in to their payment. The Volt lease requires a $2,500 down payment (vs $2,000 for the Leaf), but GM is including a clause in the lease contract that allows leasers to buy the car at the end of their term so that the automaker don't have another standoff with customers like it did with the all-electric EV1
  • The Volt Will Face Competition, writes Ucilia Wang at Daily Finance: "GM officials decline to say when they expect to make a profit from the Volt, which is more expensive than some of the popular sedans. Nissan has priced its LEAF at $32,780 (before the federal tax credit) and last 100 miles per charge. In comparison, the Prius starts at $22,800, and the hybrid Civic at $23,800."
  • But the Volt Offers Something Different, writes Ariel Schwartz at Fast Company: "Unlike the Volt, the Leaf doesn't contain a gasoline engine--it relies solely on electric vehicle charging stations. So in reality, the two vehicles may not even appeal to the same customers. Those who still want the comfort of a gas engine will opt for the Volt, while customers ready to take the plunge into all-electric cars will go for the Leaf. We'll know for sure which option is most appealing by this time next year."
  • So What Do You Get With the Sticker Price?  Josie Garthwaite at Earth2Tech explains: "If you choose to go all out for the handful of premium options available for the Volt (heated leather seat, three of the eight colors, chrome wheels, rear park assist) the suggested price would max out at $44,600. The base model, however, will come equipped with a slew of luxury features — notably, five years of the automaker’s OnStar Directions & Connections service, which would normally cost about $1,500, as well as a 7-inch touch screen display and a Bose audio system. A destination freight charge of $720 is also included in the $41,000 MSRP."
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