## The Chevy Volt – Unjustifiable At Any Cost

I have always wanted to do a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation on the Chevy Volt but was lacking details into the charging power required to replenish the batteries but now that has been provided to me.  See the following quotes from the Chevrolet Volt website (emphasis mine).

“First, the Volt gets an EPA-estimated 35 miles of EV range, and we estimate you can get between 25 – 50 miles of range depending on the three T’s: the outside Temperature, the road Terrain (flat vs. hilly) and your driving Technique. “

“Next, you need to charge that battery. Yes, the Volt has a 16 kWh battery, but what you might not know is only 12.9 kWh is used for charging and driving – this is done to extend battery life. 9.6 kWh is used to propel the car and accessories and 3.3kWh is used in the charging process The average cost of electricity in the U.S. is \$.12/kWh, so, take \$.12 x 12.9 to get a cost to charge of \$1.55, a far cry from the \$18.56 to charge that I’ve seen some say online. “

So there are two key parameters that I need to perform an ROI to see if the higher initial cost of the Volt outweighs gas purchases over the typical lifetime of a gas powered car – 1) Average range of the battery life is 35 miles and 2) The Volt requires 12.9 kWh to charge the battery.

In South Carolina, I pay around \$0.11/kWh so I’ll make the ROI calculations even more favorable for the Volt and use that cost versus the \$0.12/kWh that is on the Chevy website.

The average retail cost of a 2012 Volt is \$38,000 and the average cost of a comparable car; say the Volkswagen Jetta is \$20,000.  I am using a Jetta because it has a similar body style and because I have owned one since 2003 so I’m very familiar with its gas mileage which happens to be 26 Miles per Gallon (MPG).

Let’s assume that someone works 50 weeks out of the year (5 days a week) and has a one way commute to work of 15 miles.  This will get us under the average 35 mile limit of the Volt before requiring a recharge of the battery and will avoid having to pay electricity charges twice per day (charging it up at work) for longer commutes.

I’ll initially assume gas is \$4.00 per gallon but later I’ll do another calculation at a much higher price.

The calculations based on all the above information is shown below and note that I didn’t account for depreciation or inflation in this calculation (simple payback).

The daily cost of operating a Volt is much lower than the daily cost of operating a Jetta (\$1.42 vs. \$4.62) but due to the extra \$18,000 we had to pay for the Volt we’ll have to drive the Volt for over 22 years to get our money back.  Well that sucks!  There is no way the car will last for 22 years but what if we double the daily commute and that would double gas prices for the Jetta and double the electricity costs for the Volt but should reduce the ROI.

As would be expected, the ROI did drop but you’d still have to drive the Volt for over 11 years to recoup the costs.  This is still not likely.

Now let’s see what it would take to recoup our costs in say 5 years (a typical period one owns a car).  Let’s keep the one way commute at 30 miles and then raise the gas price per gallon to get an ROI of 5 years.

Gas prices would have to sky rocket to \$7.50 per gallon before a Volt makes financial sense.  It gets worse when you consider depreciation/inflation and this site showed that gas prices must equal \$12.50 per gallon before the Volt is competitive.

“And even with rising gasoline prices — topping \$4 a gallon in parts of the country — EVs are just not competitive, according to the Lundberg Survey. Gasoline prices would have to rise to \$8.53 a gallon to make the Leaf competitive and hit \$12.50 for a Volt to be worth it, based on the cost of gasoline versus electricity, fuel efficiency and depreciation, the survey said.”

But what about the Environment?  Leftists like to say that using a Volt reduces the burning of fossil fuels and prevents Global Warming.  Where do you Greenies think the electricity comes from that charges the Volt?  75% comes from fossil fuels (spreadsheet here-do the math).  And do we really have a manmade global warming problem? No.

So even if you over look the fact that the car battery catches on fire, there is still no realistic financial or environmental reason to purchase one of these money pits.   It’s a good thing this catastrophe wasn’t developed and manufactured on tax payer dollars.  Oh wait!

As a thank you for visiting this site and reading this post, here is a great video on the Chevy Volt that will hopefully ease the pain of knowing our tax dollars were poured down a large hole in the ground.

There was a request in the comments section for a more detailed analysis and I’m happy to accommodate.  My intentions were to show how one could easily show how a Volt didn’t make economic sense but apparently some Volt lovers couldn’t accept that.  So here’s more detail.

I deducted \$7,500 for the tax rebate (which I think should be eliminated and most likely will next year) but I also made another modifications to make it more realistic.  What makes the Volt unique is the fact that it has a 12 gallon gas tank that it uses to recharge the batteries during driving and that 12 gallons can last as long as 375 miles to 640 miles.  You still need to charge it up once a day (at least) but in driving more than 30 miles per day (what most Americans do) you’ll need to use the gas to recharge on the go.

I’ll use the higher estimate (640 miles per fill up) to present the best case for the Volt.  I’ll also use 60 miles per day for 5 days per week which works out to about 15,000 miles a year which is the average amount driven in the US.

The estimate below is basically the same as the middle one above but deducting for the tax rebate and adding yearly fuel cost to support 23.44 tank fill ups (15,000 / 640) of 12 gallons each at \$4.00 per gallon.   It still takes over 10 years to get your ROI.

There is also a great post in Tree Hugger (hardly a Right Wing web site) that states the payback for a Volt when compared to a Camaro is 16.6 years.   So, I think I’m being very generous in my calculations here for the Volt.  It realy is unjustifiable at current costs.

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### 112 Responses to The Chevy Volt – Unjustifiable At Any Cost

1. I drive a Chevy Volt.

Thank you for doing some extensive math here. It is great to see that. I hope you will take into consideration the following rebuttal, which also uses math.

I would like to challenge a couple of your assumptions:
1. To some a Volkwagon Jetta may be considered a comparable. To others a BMW or Audi at \$35K+ may more comparable. The fact that we know is that most traded in car for the Volt is the Prius, which has a \$26,000 price. I am not sure if the Jetta (or any other ~\$20K car) is on the top 10 traded in list for the Chevy Volt.

I do think many people vastly underrate the performance characteristics of the Volt. There is no other car that can give you 273ft-lbs of instant torque.

2. You did not take into account the \$7500 tax credit that virtually any tax payer can get. This reduces the effective price of a Volt to \$30,500, according to your math.
Using your math @ \$4.00 per gallon with \$30,500 instead of \$38,000, the breakeven is 6.56 years or about 4 years LESS than the average lifespan of a car today. Assuming you kept both cars for 10 years, you would be AHEAD in the last 3.5 years with the Volt.

I guess that there is a price where the Chevy Volt is cost effective: That would be its CURRENT PRICE!

3. Re: the NHTSA testing… just some facts:
– There are 200,000 car fires in the real world per year. There are 0 known incidents of Chevy Volts initiative fires in crashes.
– The Volt fires with NHTSA tests were proven to be a result of a procedural error. NHTSA did not drain the battery as they drain highly flammable gasoline post crash. This is unrealistic as Onstar initiates draining the battery on Volts that are in the real world.
– The NHTSA test fire happened 3 weeks after the crash. Car and Driver recently did a humorous piece about how a Volt driver in Chicago that gets into a crash can walk away from the scene of the incident at 2.5 miles per hour, for 10 hours per day, with 14 hours of rest per night and still make it to Memphis before worrying about their car catching on fire.

Conversely, regular internal combustion engines are prone to catching on fire at the time of a crash:

The NHTSA testing might rally the “talking point” crowd. However, those that have actually spent a few minutes researching the issue, can see right through it.

• cosmoscon says:

You lost me when you said there are sane people who would equate a Chevy Volt with an Audi or a BMW but I read the rest of your comments anyway. I updated the calculations to be more detailed as you suggested. Thanks for taking the time to comment and offering suggestions.

Oh, I also updated the calcs to account for the gas you buy for your Volt based on an average 15,000 miles driven per year. Payback is still > 10 years. Enjoy your Volt.

• Brent says:

I was considering two cars when I made my Volt purchase and the other one was a 3 series BMW. Also please consider that a large part of any car purchase is based on driving experience. I did and will pay a premium again in the future for the smoothness and instant torque the Volt offers. Not to mention the convenience of only needing to stop for gas every five months.

• You still are missing other parts of the equation: 1) source of fuel: part of my electricity comes from Solar panels, the rest costs only 6.5 cents per kWh. 2) Maintenance costs: virtually non-existent. I have now driven my 2012 Volt 22,500 miles in 16 months and have had \$0 in maintenance costs. I rotate my own tires (every 7500 miles) and until I reach the 2 year point that is the only maintenance called for. At two years the first oil change is suggested. Brakes may never require replacement because the regenerative braking (electric motor recharging the battery slows the vehicle) radically reduces wear on the pads and rotors.
Oh, and BTW, I have only used 65 gallons of gasoline for the 22,500 miles (occasional longer trips), and have only burned 2.4 gallons since my last fill up on October 6, 2012 while traveling 6510 miles. It’s now March 29, 2013.
I traded a 2006 Cadillac CTS for my Volt, and in many ways it is a step up from the CTS. Your idea of the Jetta being comparable to the Volt is a bit off the mark: a \$20,000 Jetta is pretty stripped down. Add another \$10K to it and you will equip it with some of the features that you will find on the Volt…minus the quiet, smooth, shift-free ride with the strong bottom end of the Volt. My daily commute is 26 miles one way. I charge at my office (I own the business and pay the bill) and have gone long stretches with no gasoline burned at all. My fuel savings? My NET fuel cost in the first year of ownership was \$475 for gas plus electricity, 18,000 miles driven. given the same average cost of gasoline that I paid over that year for the Volt, I would have spent over \$3300 for gasoline in the CTS and paid for 3+ oil changes using full-synthetic oil and would be halfway to replacing brake pads, would be close to an engine air filter replacement, and out all of the time that I would have to take the car in for service and time at the pump: roughly 55 times at the gas station taking 5-10 minutes each (4.5 to 9 hours standing in the rain, freezing cold, or blazing heat, inhaling carcinogenic fumes from the gas pump) Instead, I hop out and plug in every time that I park at home or work. 5 SECONDS each time.

I do not doubt that you are well intentioned, but your calculations are too superficial to be pertinent. compare a comparable car, but include all of the maintenance costs for 5 years. You will find that the Volt will beat most of them in total cost of ownership, and the ones that it won’t beat are probably not on my shopping list anyway because I don’t need to buy a tiddly-wink any longer.

• Alberto says:

Hi there , I hope you can help me. I am driving 110 milles per day total. I am spending around 340 usd on gas per month for the actual car I have, plus maintenance which is something around 25 usd per month. Is the volt a good option for me ?

• Wolf Homma says:

Alberto,
for that distance a Prius would work better since it gets up to 50 miles per gallon. The range of my Volt is 40 miles, which means you would run 40 miles on battery and 70 miles on gas where the Volt gets only around 40 miles per gallon. For general comments on this very loaded discussion scroll down to my post from January this year. Since GM has now reduced the price for the Volt by \$5,000 Cosmocon’s and others’ arguments are becoming thinner. At the end of the day it is still an emotional decision whether to buy a Volt or not.

• Alberto says:

Thank you for your comments !!! I was kind of confused then, I thought I would get 98 mpg total, but I have not been able to figure out the calculation, how that will work?? I do really appreciate your help

• Wolf Homma says:

Alberto, you would drive the Volt for 40 miles using around 13kWh used to charge the battery to 10.8kWh, which would show on the energy display as 250 miles/gallon since you are not using any gasoline, and then the gas engine takes over for the remaining 70 miles, which would use around 1.75 gallons. Not a bad deal, and you can drive completely on battery for the shorter trips on the weekend. Still, using the Volt mostly on gasoline kind of defeats the purpose.

• Wolfman says:

I guess it depends on what you look at. My folks have two Toyota Priuses. Right now, they are in the upper 40’s on the one they keep in South Texas. My lifetime average is holding at approximately 75 mpg in m Volt, mostly due to an unplanned trip to TX last year resulting in a 3500 mile trip. If it wasn’t for that trip skewing my gas/electric ratio way off, then I would be well north of the 100 mpg mark. This serves to show how flexible Voltec is. I have an EV for all of my local running, and yet the same car that gives me the EV experience can go anywhere at a moments notice.

• Wolf Homma says:

Wolfman, I know exactly what you are talking about. Until a few days ago I was at > 200 miles/gallon due to mostly local driving. Then came a 150 mile trip inland which brought me down to 192 miles/gallon. I am just saying that if the majority of your trips is longer distance, i.e. outside the battery range, the Prius might be a better choice. This does not change the fact that I love my Volt after almost 1 year of driving. I have not used more than 60 gallons during that time …

• Will says:

I drive a Stingray Corvette for the Driving Experience. Looking at the smile on my face while accelerating 0-60 in sub 4 sec and getting gallons per mile and smoking the tires, I don’t care how much it takes to fill it up. If you really want to save money, take public transportation.

• mo621 says:

If you want a real smile on your face, get the fully loaded tesla S. It makes your stingray corvette look like my Volt lol.

• Larry R Sawallish says:

My question is, where are you buying your electricity? My cost per klw is slightly over 5 cents. Highest my area is 8 cents. Get a different utility.

2. Bobo Farquart says:

Only an idiot compares a \$20K Jetta to a \$40K car. ANY \$40K car, whether a Volt, or anything else. Might as well run an ROI comparison of a Mustang vs a Ferrari 430. Or how about a Honda CR-V vs a Porsche Cayenne?

Factor in my electric rates are 7 cents (6 cents come April 1), and that I get 42-45mi per charge, will only have an oil change like every 2 years, and brakes lasting 100K miles due to brake regeneration, and your numbers get even MORE foolish. And I hardly think a Jetta will get 26MPG in any major city with rush hours, etc… Besides, who the heck looking at a \$40K car is cross-shopping to a cheap, bargain-basement stripped-down \$20,000 Jetta?!? That’s a ridiculous comparison.

Who paid you off for this stupid nonsensical rubbish?!?
Or are you just looking for 15min of fame, which you will never get?

• cosmoscon says:

Such a well crafted rebuttal. Funny you meantioned 15 minutes, that’s how long it will take me to forget what you said. Carry on.

• Bobo Farquart says:

Couple of corrections: the Volt has a 9 gallon gas tank, not 12 gallons, and it does NOT recharge on the go, except to 40% in mountain mode, and to maintain a safe state-of-charge on the battery, so the battery does not suffer premature end-of-life due to excessively low charge. Their thinking is it costs less to recharge at the wall, as opposed to running the gas engine at higher revs to charge, whereby wasting gas. I disagree, I figure if you’re running the gas engine burning gas, might as well throw the overage into the battery, but hey: I’m no automotive engineer.

The obvious part that you’re ignoring, is most Volt owners run their Volts on battery-only over 70% of the time – in my case, even higher. I’ve used about a gallon in a month, roughly 900 miles. Over half of that was on the drive home from picking it up at the dealer. Dealer was 60mi away, and we had already used up some battery during the test drive, especially when he had me put it in ‘Sport Mode’ which consumes a little more juice.

3. camoscout2 says:

Thanks for running these #’s. It saved me a little time. I do agree with the previous poster the article itself is a bit harsh.
1) I also have a problem comparing a \$40k vehicle to a \$20k base vehicle. A more appropriate comparison would be to put it against a \$26-\$30k Prius.
2) Bobo, while I agree you’ll negate most of the typical maintenance associated with a typical gasoline engine what do you expect to happen when you have to replace the battery pack? They’re supposedly \$8k today. If they’re \$2k in 10 years when it’s time to replace…that would still cover a lot of oil changes & at least one brake job. Not to mention battery degradation over its battery life can reasonably be expected to cut into the economics a little.
3) The big advantage the Volt has today from a financial perspective is energy cost exposure. If/when we have another shortage of oil (think any one of the possible mid-east powder kegs or hurricanes disrupting supply throughout the Gulf Coast region) the Volt drivers will have substantially less exposure than us dirty carbon burners.
Also, Electricity supply is MUCH more reliable/constant than the oil supply. Additionally, your everyday individual can put together a PV system and MAKE their own power. Even as an M.E. I won’t be cracking crude in my back yard…ever.

GM cannot have reasonably expected the economics to make sense for the everyday, \$50k/year salaried commuter. Otherwise they would have projected substantially more than 10k Volts to be sold over the first year. That’s not their target market. The real car lovers and tech enthusiasts (think Jay Leno) are the initial market.
The Volt is an incredible success for global consumers in terms of choice. I’m assuming the blog author has never seen the documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car”. The pure fact GM actually delivered such a radically different vehicle to help facilitate a transition from oil energy reliance to one of a domestically produced nature is simply fantastic and to be applauded.

As a consumer, I sincerely appreciate choice and an ability to reduce financial risk & reliance on others. The Volt delivers on both.

• cosmoscon says:

Thanks camoscout2 for taking the time to comment here. Your thoughts above have added value to the conversation and I enjoyed reading them.

• Bobo Farquart says:

It’s not just a couple of things, it’s the whole package.
I used to pay roughly \$60/wk in gas = \$240/month = roughly \$2900/yr.
electricity? Roughly \$0.85/charge call it 6 charges/week (don’t drive much on weekends) = average 4 weeks/mo = \$5.10×4= roughly \$20/mo, x 12 mos = \$240/yr, net savings on fuel costs/yr = \$2660. I did 4 oil changes/yr at about \$50 (\$40 or so +taxes + disposal fees+etc…) adds another \$200/yr = \$2860/yr saved just in petro.

Brakes? Last time I did them (every 2 years) was about \$200, so call it \$100/yr, makes it \$2960/yr.

Insurance? Insurance on the Volt also gets discounts. My mo pmt in a metropolitan area is \$135/mo for 6mos. Our previous Subaru SUV was \$219/mo, financed not leased. Even the old beater I drove before, 25/50, no comp or collision, ie, minimum required, was \$121/mo. The \$135 on the Volt is comp, collision, uninsured motorist 50/100 stacking, roadside, \$100K/\$300K/\$100K coverages! Factoring against the \$25K Subaru even, you’re talking \$1200/YR insurance savings , so far totalling \$4160/YR savings. Factoring against what else I was looking at (2012 Acura TL, Audi A4, etc..) guarantee you those would not have ben \$135/mo, or even \$220/mo.

Over 8 years, that’s a savings of \$33,280. That’s assuming gas stays at \$3.80 (which is where it was last time I was spending that \$60/wk) which we know it isn’t. It’s not even there now. My area is already over \$4.05/g for regular.

There’s plenty else, and we can spend all night on that – trans fluids, brake fluids, all the stuff that gas burners need, that EVs don’t, plus things like low rolling resistance tires, etc… It’s a long sundry list comparing EVs to gas-engined cars… air filters, mufflers/exhaust… There’s alot of things that don’t immediately come to mind when one makes the argument, but they exist.

When you factor in the savings, and do a proper Total Cost to OWN, there’s NO comparison, even if you compare it to the price of the average new car purchase today, which is between \$25-30K. Even a BASE Camry LE starts at \$22K. But, as I said, a \$22K car is not on the cross-shopping list of a Volt buyer. In that Jetta, or Camry, after 3 or 5 years, you’re on your own with repairs/maintenace. Volt has an 8Y/100K mile warranty on the entire Voltec subsystem, and 5Y/100K miles on the engine. And I had a 1998 Jetta GLX and 2002 Jetta 1.8T, so I know how much it is to repair those things – parts are expensive, labor is not abusive, but above average…

Rather than put up a rational argument and discussion, the author would rather just make personal attacks.

Which is fine – that’s how the argument usually ends up with these folks against the Volt, without them even having an inkling of a clue. They usually try dumb stuff like this. There was one other goon last week or week before (linked to it from a forum), claiming the Volt cost \$12-something per charge. It all boils down to the same thing in the end: they try smokescreens, BS, misdirection, miscalculations, and plain old lying. In the end, people see through it. It’s a new technology, which always costs more in the beginning, and works it’s way cheaper through volume, and cost engineering. Remember when flat-screen TVs first came out? \$8-10K? Saw a commercial the other night for a 40″ Sony Bravia LED TV for \$498! And as for the tax credit argument? Horse manure – oil companies get over \$4B in tax breaks per year, while recording historical record high profits. And GE? GE hasn’t paid ANY taxes in I think 2 years. Record spending on military for what? To protect our oil interests overseas. Factor in all the other stupidities this current administration has done, and it’s downright disgusting. If tossing around \$4B+/yr to oil companies, what’s wrong with a \$7500 tax credit IF you even have the tax liability to use all of it? There’s earned income credits – why should I pay to educate those who didn’t plan ahead? And child credits – why should I pay for other people’s kids? The list goes on….

As to your 15min cosmoscon? Never came, sorry to say. You’re not even a has-been – you’re a never was, and a never-will-be with articles like this. I like your writing style, and I like how you even went as far as embedding spreadsheets, but it’s a shame the numbers are rubbish. You’re comparison is irrational, illogical, and makes no sense even to an average Joe. Comparing a Walmart-clearance-bin \$20,000 Jetta to a \$40,000 car is unrealistic, and quite frankly, downright dumb. Makes you look like you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about because you’re directly comparing apples and oranges, and ignoring the consequences. The only one finding importance in your babble, is you. Your article makes you appear arrogant, which pretty much matches your response to my previous entry. Personal attack, zero substance, zero rebuttal, zero credibility.

Both of you have a pleasant Thursday.

B

• cosmoscon says:

The only reason I leave your comments up is to show the readers who opened up with name calling. I treat all those leaving comments with respect until they decide to act as you do. You called me an idiot in your first sentence of your first post, Not to mention the name calling at the Volt message site. But I can take it, I wouldn’t have started this blog if I was not afraid of criticism. when you open with personal attacks, as you did, it’s just hard for me to take you seriously or give you credibility.

You are shilling for a car that is only financially viable for a very small segment of society and even then it requires \$7,500 tax credit. And as one of the 53% who pay taxes, you are welcome! That credit came from either tax payers like me or through loans which takes our country further in debt. Enjoy your Volt.

• Demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of how the EV tax credit works: you are only eligible for the tax credit if your tax liability in the year you purchase your car meets or exceeds the \$7500. If you have a \$0 tax bill when your return is filed, you get \$0 tax credit. If your total bill is \$2000, you may get up to a \$2000 tax credit. If you owe \$30,000 in federal taxes, you may get the full credit (MAY get it: if you don’t get hit with AMT). Also, the credit may NOT be carried over to another tax year.

There are plenty of tax favored status things floating out there: look at your Schedule A and tell me you don’t deduct property tax, home mortgage interest, charitable contributions, or any of the other things listed. Tell me that you don’t write off capital losses. tell me that you don’t claim a deduction for your dependents. Your argument about the Volt tax credit could very easily be made for any one of those items: the same logic applies.

• cosmoscon says:

Are you seriously comparing a tax deduction for my children to a tax credit given to someone who purchases a car that was developed by a company that was bailed out by US tax payers? And GM still has yet to repay that loan but fine, here’s another \$7,500 to drive one of their cars.

Nobody should take you seriously going forward. But please post comments here all you like.

I’m glad you like your Volt and thanks for adding to the discussion but please spare me the attempts to justify the \$7,500 you got from tax payers.

4. Colt 45 says:

I also have a Volt its the funnest vehicle I have ever owned. I trader in a 2010 silverado 4×4 crew cab..ya.. I was averaging 14 MPG and only paid \$4000 extra for the volt after \$7500 Tax credit. Now I drive 30 mi. to work and 30 mi. home again. I am able to charge the Volt at work. Good for me. I was spending about \$450.00 a month on Gas, I am sure of this because its was on my Visa monthly. Now I am spending \$0.00 monthly on gas..payback?? (who cares) you fig. it out. everyone has different scenarios you need to do whats rite for you. Also if you dont use all the batteries it does not take 12.6 kw to charge. In the am hrs the car will go well over 50 mi. on a charge. Needing less than 3/5 of the 12.6kw to charge it. Even if I could not charge it at work. It would only burn gas for 5 to 15 mi. of the round trip and at 40 MPG and thats low its .2 to .3 gal per trip. Thank you hope this helps. This car is the rite car for my case.

• cosmoscon says:

Thanks for stopping by Colt 45 and taking the time to comment. I enjoyed hearing about your personal experience with it.

The 12.6 kw charging comes from the Chevy Volt website so I have to take them at their word.

• Bobo Farquart says:

That 12.6kWh number is relatively accurate. It depends on the charging losses, and will be lower if charging with a 240V EVSE.

However, you link to a treehugger.com article as a reference, which you probably do NOT want to do – makes your numbers look sane, which is not saying much.

If you look closely, and check up on the author’s math, he’s getting a total number of gallons for the year, on 15,000 miles in the Camaro…. wait for it… at the hwy rating of 29MPG.

Seriously – who’s going to drive for a year, and get the HWY 29MPG rating for all 15,000 miles in the year? More smokescreen math…

I have a couple of co-workers who have new Camaros, who snickered at even the 23mpg average rating, and we borrowed another co-workers scangauge device, and nowhere near the claimed average of 23MPG in the city. Camaro is rated at 17 city and 29hwy. We were lucky to get 20-12mpg in city driving, which is what most people do.

Add to that, that article at treehugger also uses \$2.64 per charge, which is nearing 4 times what I pay, and you see why I give zero credibility to those links. Honestly, I don’t think you’re an idiot – but I do think you’re a bit misguided. I understand most people are ticked at Obama, as am I, but the tax credit was created before he took office.

I would actually LOVE to have a rational discussion with you about the pros and cons of the Volt, and other EVs, but you seem to be clouded by a politically-driven hatred of it, when in most cases, if you do the proper calculations, you would see it’s more than just a viable alternative.

As to paying taxes, I’ll be more than happy to forward you my last couple years returns, and you would see that I, too, pay taxes.

5. Colt 45 says:

I forgot to mention if you use it for a personal busines you can get another \$ 400.00 TAX CREDIT and if you live in California you get another \$ 2000.00 State Tax Credit and a discount on the electricity it takes to charge it. Other States have Tax credits too. My payback is about right now..had it 4 months now.

• Bobo Farquart says:

Good story… \$450/mo – Ow! That hurts! As you said – it’s not for everyone. If you can get one way 32-38mi and charge at work, or roundtrip 32-38 charging only at home, it can be a tremendous fuel-saver!

Enjoy the savings, and enjoy the volt!

6. Ryan says:

I think you are trying too hard with this. The Volt absolutely can pay for itself and save you from day one. It can also never pay for itself in pure financial terms, depending on yor circumstances. . Unlike gas cars where it is a simple equation of how many miles you travel a year, divided by the MPG, then multiplied by the cost of gas, this just isn’t the case for the Volt. For myself, I charge for 6 cents per kilowatt hour. Many Volt owners change their electric plan to use time of use, which significantly reduce the rate for off peak chargi I also travel 22,000 miles a year. I commute 35 miles a day each way. I charge completely at work, and make my total commute on electricity. It has cost me \$90 to drive 4700 all electric miles in 3 months in electricity. That is including assign a value to the electricity i dont even pay for at worko to be fair When you take my car payment and fueling costs compared to my former 2011 Mini Cooper, I am saving over 50 a month with a car that costs 15,000 more. So my Volt is actually increasing the money I have in my bank account every month. What is amazing about that is that early adopter technology almost never pays for itself, but the Volt is already doing that for me. Give it a few years for the price to come down, then it will be a no brainier for more people. If you want to see my detailed cost analysis, my blog is voltowner.blogspot.com. I have a detailed post on my total cost of ownership.

Bottom line… You are not doing a fair analysis with your assumptions. The Volt also compares better to cars costing around 25k, as it is considered an upscale compact car, not really comparing to a Volks Wagon.

Also, you need to look beyond simply financial calculations. Buying a BMW or any other expensive car can’t be justified financially, yet people buy them up all the time. Buying a car is a very personal experience, which generally goes beyond simple finances. In my cae, I have a car that works for me financially, and supports my political and economical goal. I am a Republican, btw…

7. Ryan says:

Excuse the typos. I am on an iPad.

One note about comparisons… The car really doesn’t compare to anything… So any comparisons are really bad to begin with. You buy is car not to burn at gas. It’s not simply to increase your MPG. I wouldn’t even consider a Cruze or VW. They arent in the same league. The Prius is the efficiency standard, but e Volt blows it’s doors off when you look at performance. And after the tax credit, it really isn’t too much more expensive than the slow and ugly Prius. A Prius is the biggest pile of crap I have ever driven. It may be efficient, but it comes at the cost of fun driving. I drive BMWs for 10 years prior to the Volt. I only bought the Mini as a gap until the Volt was available inu my state. There are MANY former owners of European luxury cars that are buying the Volt. They have not been disappointed. It truly is a unique driving experience. If you have not test driven one, in fairness to analysis, you should. I think you’ll see there is more to the car than just numbers. Driving electric has value just like leather or chrome or a huge engine has value to people. You just don’t know what that value is because you have likely never experienced it.

8. Ryan says:

As far as subsidies… Gas and oil is subsidized in so many ways directly and indirectly, you just can’t be honest in acting like the electric car owners are even scratching the surface. How many wars have been fault in part to protect our oil interests over seas? A lot of people have died over oil. And unfortunately, because this society seems to think oil is the greatest thing since sliced cheese, we have to send troops, because oil is the lifeblood of s country.

You should also be reminded that the average income of electric owners is at the top oft the bracket. As a group, we pay more in taxes than just about any other car owners out there. We know what it is like to pay a lot in taxes, and since this is a tax credit, we don’t get to take it unless we actually pay 7500 in federal taxes. So it really isn’t taking money out of your pocket. The government is just taking less out of ours.

9. Ryan says:

Again, excuse the typos. Horrible autocorrect. Fault=fought.

• cosmoscon says:

No need to apologize for typos, this is a comment section! Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts and they expanded my knowledge base on this topic!

10. Ryan says:
11. Bob says:

I recently ran the same calculations and came to the same conclusions that you did. A few questions/comments some of which make your argument stronger are:

1]
How much does the battery degrade over time? Your calculations assume that the battery will always be able to deliver 9.6KWH of energy over its lifetime. That is very unrealistic even for lithium ion batteries. I would not expect the battery to have usable capacity after 10 years. Beyond that time, it is dead weight. If you assume a logarithmic degradation in battery life vs. time, the payback time for the Volt is longer.

Some will argue that auto engines only last 10 years. Even if that is true (which I assert it is not for cars made within the past 5 years), the Volt also has an engine which is subject to the same wearout period as engines in other modern cars. Depending on the driving habits, it may not be used as often but it has a lot more cold starts.

2]
Like noted in your article, “12.9 kWh is used for charging and driving – this is done to extend battery life. 9.6 kWh is used to propel the car and accessories and 3.3kWh is used in the charging process”. This means the efficiency of the battery charger is only 74.4% (9.6KWH/12.9KWH). That is really low by today’s standards. Greater than 90% is easily achievable with today’s technology. Chevrolet could have had a stronger story if they used better charger technology in the car. For example, 90% efficiency would only require 10.7KWH to recharge the battery. Plugging the numbers into the spreadsheet shaves about another year off the payback period. Moving to 95% efficiency shaves about 2 years off the payback.

3]
Not directly related, but another item to consider: If you never use the gas engine, how long does it take before the gas in the tank becomes stale? Do you have to add stabilizer to the fuel?

• Bobo Farquart says:

The gas engine in the Volt will easily outlast others, simply because of the little use it gets for most folks. I understand the cold-start, but, EVERY normal ICE car has 2 cold-starts per day at least, on average.

As to the charging, the battery pack was designed to only use roughly 10kWh of the 16kWh capacity to extend it’s useful lifetime. Regarding charging effiicency, this can be dramatically improved by using a 240V EVSE (charger) instead of the 120V. With 120v charging, losses are accumulated over a 9-11hr charging period. On 240v, they accumulate over a much shorter 3-4hr charging period.

Regarding the gas in the tank, Volt has a completely sealed and pressurized fuel system, and knows the age/average age of the fuel in the tank. If you do not use it, it will burn it off to prevent bad fuel from ruining the engine/fuel system. Volt also has int he computer, a maintenance system which will run the gas engine for a few short minutes every 45 days, if you do not run the gas engine in extended mode.

The numbers that are being thrown around are extremely inaccurate, and I wouldn’t give them much weight – alot of things are excluded, such as a lack of 3-4 oil changes/yr, brakes every 2 years, reduced insurance on EVs (\$100/mo diff between my \$25K 2009 SUV, and my 2012 \$46K Volt, same level of coverage), etc..

When you factor in that I pay \$0.07/kWh (will be \$0.06 on April 1st) you can see how insignificant powering my Volt during a year is, compared to a standard car. Add in the fact that very few people will actually average, during a year, their car’s EPA combined mileage numbers, especially in large cities with stop-n-go, 1-1.5hr rush hours, etc… and the numbers for a gas engine climb.

My bank account, and my daily driving, tells me all I need to know – I went from anywhere from \$220 – \$260/mo in gas alone, to using \$20 in electricity. I’ve only used 1g of fuel the past 4-5 weeks, and roughly 900-1000 miles, and 1/2 of that gallon was driving the car home from the dealer on purchase day.

I’m not saying Volt is for everyone – it surely isn’t. But if you drive one-way 35-42mi and can charge at work, or the 35-42mi round-trip, as your daily commute, and your electric power rates are reasonable, it’s a good fit.

If you drive 10mi round-trip – forget it. If you do 60+ mi round-trip – also forget it – You’re better off with a cheap high-mileage car, financially, than a Volt.

Cheers, and happy Friday folks!

• Bob says:

I understand your comment about the 240V charger but does Chevrolet sell the charger for free or include it standard? If not, it is additional capital expense. If you only look at the operating costs, I agree it is cheaper to operate the Volt. But a payback analysis requires the capital cost to also be considered. If you move from an existing SUV car loan to a new car loan, the monthly expenses can be the same but the total cash outlay to move from one to another goes up. Unless, of course your moving from one of the high-end \$60-80K SUVs. But that would be like saying your saving money if you sell your house and buy a Volt. It’s not directly comparable.

How long do you plan on keeping your Volt? Did you lease or buy? What do you plan on doing when the battery reaches the end of its useful life?

Have a nice day and a good weekend! 🙂

• Kumala says:

I bet you go I bet you go through nine volt ietterbas like crazy. They don’t have much amperage to last even one full charge I bet.

• Ryan says:

[quote]How much does the battery degrade over time? Your calculations assume that the battery will always be able to deliver 9.6KWH of energy over its lifetime[/quote]

This is really anyone’s guess. GM states that with their complex battery management system, which includes a liquid cooled temperature control (the Leaf doesnt have this), the battery will only lose about 10-30% of its cells through 100k miles. What they dont say is how much this will affect range, because of the 16 kWh battery, only 10 is directly addressable, 3 is for minimum state of charge, and 3 above that is for dead cell replacement (it opens up dead cells).
In my situation, I suspect I will see no range diminishment for the first 70k, then I might see some range lost through 100k. That will be about 5 years. At 5 years, I will have a car with over 20 miles of electric range, worst case, which is about DOUBLE the current Plug in Prius gets new from the factory. So when the car is paid off, it will be be saving LOTS of money over the other vehicles in fuel cost.

[quote]Like noted in your article, “12.9 kWh is used for charging and driving – this is done to extend battery life. 9.6 kWh is used to propel the car and accessories and 3.3kWh is used in the charging process”. This means the efficiency of the battery charger is only 74.4% (9.6KWH/12.9KWH). [/quote]

As to the efficiency, his numbers above are not really great numbers. See my cost of ownership on my site, as I think I’ve done a better job at it. He is assuming only 1 charging cycle a day. I am at about 2.

[quote]Not directly related, but another item to consider: If you never use the gas engine, how long does it take before the gas in the tank becomes stale? Do you have to add stabilizer to the fuel?[/quote]

No. Premium fuel is required, and if the engine goes too long without being run, it will cycle on and burn some of the fuel to avoid it going stale. If you drive long periods of time without burning fuel, as I do, they advice you to have only a few gallons in your tank. I keep 3 gallons in there.

My 240V charger was free for me. Many peopple are getting them free through energy grants and credits. If you dont get it free, it will probably be offset by the ‘free’ electricity you get charging at the many places that allow you to charge without paying, including many people’s workplace. So yes, it is an added cost for some, but it mitigated by lots of other factors.

12. Bobo Farquart says:

the 240v charger is \$495, and averages about \$200-400 for install, but it’s usable with other EVs, as well – standard J1772 connector/plug.

Even with the linked treehugger article, ROI on the \$10K difference, when you correctly account for everything, is 3-4 years, which isn’t bad. But I think comparing a \$40K Volt to a \$20K Jetta, or \$20K Cruze is nonsense – someone who’d willing to drop \$40K on a car, like me, is not even considering a \$20K Jetta, Cruze, Corolla, or anything else in that range, for that matter. Even a Camry, like an LE starting at about \$23K, was not on my radar.

Currently, mine is a lease, as the incentives GM and the leasing company were throwing in are great, and the financing turns out to be just over 1%, so I’ll make that decision after 3 years. The way I see it, and the way my lease contract was written up, I’m using US Bank as cheap 1% financing for the first 3 years, and if i decide to buy it out at the end, I can finance the buyout for an average of between 3-5%, assuming the credit market remains stable 🙂

The battery is warranted for 8 years / 100,000 miles, and quite honestly, I’ve never owned a vehicle for 8 years or 100,000 miles, so i don’t really know 🙂 Longest I’ve ever had a vehicle is about 5 years, and that was about 50-60K miles, if I recall correctly.

Hopefully by that time, GM will have made enough, and done enough cost engineering, to bring the pricepoint down a bit, and I can get into a “Volt 2.0!”

Feel free to ask any more questions – I like rational discussion 🙂

Cheers, and have a wonderful weekend!

13. cosmoscon says:

Thanks Ryan and Bobo for more details. Believe me when I tell you I’d love to buy an electric car that could meet my needs and be financially justifiable. I have a 45 mile one way commute each day but I’m not the kind of person who would drop \$40k on a car (nor would most of Americans). That is why I compared the Volt to a mid equipped Jetta. When the EV cars get in that range then I’ll buy one of those but right now they don’t make sense to me or most of Americans who can’t afford or don’t want to drop \$40k on an automobile.

My Jetta has 155k miles on it and still runs the same as when I drove it off the lot. I drive cars until the wheels fall off and spend money on maintenance to keep them running well.

• Bobo Farquart says:

Good for you. Nothing Idiotic, dumb, or insane about that. I splurge on very little, so my car is my splurge. I drove many entry-level cars over the years, and splurge once in a while, and this is it 🙂 If it wasn’t for the electricity offsetting the fuel, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it. The fact that my daily commute is right near the EV max makes it possible.

14. Volt Owner says:

I’m an accountant, so I always appreciate the math. I drive a volt. I do believe the headline price for the car is too expensive -and will need to come down before most will consider purchasing it. That much I agree with. That said, your approach departs from reality in a few ways: 1) many people switching would never consider driving a \$20K car – before my volt I drove three different BMW 5 series models. I love my BMWs but they are \$50K+ cars that get <20mpg in the city. From a handling perspective, I've been extremely satisfied, as that was my primary concern, and 2) most people today are leasing the volt – Chevy is offering \$350ish/mo lease options for the car – which puts its monthly cost more in line with a cheaper car. Of course, the ability for Chevy to do this is based on a lot of different factors – and so I will give you that the tax incentive is one of them – perhaps also a little nagging desire for Chevy to move them off the lot is another. Regardless, for those purchasing these cars today, your math bears little resemblance to reality. My monthly car out-of-pocket fell by over 50%. And it's a great car.

15. MichaelR says:

“Unjustifiable At Any Cost” is kind of silly. People buy new cars every day for all sorts of reasons, but saving money is not one of them. If you want to save money you should by a used car and drive it until it dissolves into rust.

Looking for a ‘payback’ on a new car is a red herring. What is the payback on a set of chrome wheels, rich Corinthean leather, or a landau roof? People pay extra money for all kinds of things. The fact is, there are lots of reasons to buy a Volt other than thinking it will save you money. It may be worth it to a buyer so he does not have to spend 10 minutes once or twice a week in a grungy gasoline station, especially if it is cold/hot/raining or snowing. The smooth, quiet rush of power and instant torque delivered by electric motors might be worth it for others. The idea that you can use all American energy instead of sending dollars abroad is worth it to some people. Driving a hi-tech-latest-technology car may be worth it to others.

Your analysis did not include leasing. There are brand-new Volts available at some dealers for \$350 per month lease. If you consider that you might save \$200/month on fuel, the Volt does not look so expensive.

16. Fifyfairuz says:

I was initially atratcted to the Volt, but at 40 miles only, thats kinda ridiculous.From San Jose to Marin is 80 miles, that means I would only be driving on electric for half the trip.I would have test driven a volt if it was available today. But too bad its not.

• Michael Murphy says:

2013 Prius versus Volt equivalency of one full charge plus combined EPA mpg
gen 1 gen 2
AER miles combined MPG miles miles
Volt 38 37
Prius 46 194 662
Prius C 50 146 331
Prius V 41 389 LOSE

2017 Volt 53 42
2017 Prius 52 275
2017 Prius Prime 25 54 126
Prius V 41 LOSE
Prius Eco 56 212

comparison of gen 1 and gen 2 Volt versus concurrent iterations of the Prius, AER (All Electric Range) plus mpg for breakeven of fuel consumption. pricing of fuels (electricity and gasoline) is highly local, so you would need to plug in costs to determine the dolar tipping point, but the point is that 99% pf daily commutes are better off in a Volt

• Michael Murphy says:

the above was in a table that lost formatting. for a picture of the table, see https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10211379549543226&set=p.10211379549543226&type=3&theater

• Theoden says:

Buying used is the way to! I purchased my Volt new back in 2012, and I do not regret the decision whatsoever. Even though the battery was rated 36 miles in range, I still get 41-42 miles on a charge nearly 5 years later. I have also enjoyed the not having to deal with vehicle maintenance outside of tire rotation and replacement. The one anomaly that I did encounter was sudden and unprovoked check engine error. The car was completely drivable, but I had to take it in to have something reprogrammed at a charge to me. I found the whole thing bizarre considering that I drive my Volt on battery 99% of the time. Moreover, the check engine light came whilst on battery.

I have not given a lot of thought to TCO of late, but my electricity cost have been minimal. I have solar panels at my home, so I guess that makes my Volt fusion powered.

17. Pingback: Let Them Come | cosmoscon

18. Voltfan says:

As a Volt owner an owner of 4 other hybrids and an Anti-Volt, ( Camaro SS Comvertible ), you are all missing the point! I am a US citizen, the volt and all other electric or hybrid vehicles have significantly more technology and mfg content than standard vehicles. As we transition to theses vehicle models, and we will, the US will enjoy more high tech jobs to mfg the vehicles and will run them on electricity made in America from American resources. The cost to America to drive a volt is incredibly lower than almost any other model. My volt has 3000 miles on it, on the original dealer supplied tank of gas, is fun to drive, accelerates briskly, I drive it more sports car like, and I will be the first in line to order a Cadillac ELR. I am a conservative, republican, but well educated Engineer, I know the Volt is a neutral play on pollution but as you have heard many times, it’s the economy stupid, and this technology has the power to reduce or eliminate our dependence on foreign oil while creating jobs and reducing pollution as lower cost natural gas comes on line. Win-Win-Win. As company president, I can afford to drive my Camaro to work this morning, I will drive the Volt, I enjoy it more.

• Awesome stuff Volt Fan… The Volt is a great car, not a politician.

Also… conservatives like to conserve… don’t they?

19. Theoden says:

Cosmoscon, your figures are somewhat one dimensional as you have NOT included the incremental cost of maintenance on your sample car. Unless one is driving a car with all of the maintenance included (such as Hyundai for 10+ years or BMW for 4 years), the cost of driving your Jetta is higher than you have illustrated. I have owned a BMW, 2 Japanese imports, and a Buick and maintenance cost cannot be overlooked when calculating TCO. That Jetta will have to have oil changes, transmission service, fuel filters, tune ups, etc. The cost of all scheduled maintenance should be distributed equally across years of ownership. Now, I am not saying that the Volt will not have maintenance however, based upon my interpretation of it’s maintenance schedule, there really is not much to “service” as in a conventional car – tire rotations and alignments, shocks, etc excluded as these items are universal across all vehicles.

I am not saying that the Volt is for everyone. One could have equally made an argument about a Ford Explorer vs a Focus being a bad decision. It all depends the owner’s individual driving style, the location, and use of the vehicle. There seems to be so much bias coming from people like yourself who do not own a Volt. If you feel that the Volt or any other car is not for you, cool but there is no need to say that the car is not justifiable. I could have made an argument regarding a Jetta being a poor choice if fuel efficiency was the only measure of worth.

Yes, I own a Volt. I also own a BMW and Japanese import. The car that gets driven 99% of the time in my home is the Volt. I usually get 47 miles out of mine before I have to charge it at \$0.05/kWH and in most cases, I pay nothing to charge it as we have plenty of free charging stations in my city.

And one more thing. Its the thing that people overlook the most about electric vehicles. You can change the way you consume electricity in your home to offset the cost of charging an electric vehicle. The same cannot be said for gas. You will always have to buy it. Adjusting your thermostat by a few degrees and reducing wash and dry cycles can more than offset the daily cost of charging your car. I know this because I have done it. My annual power cost are down since my purchase of the Volt and I have been tracking my power consumption for nearly a decade.

Moreover, my utility company offers a kWh discount to owners electric vehicles if they are willing to charge in off peak times.

• cosmoscon says:

Thanks for stopping by Theoden and taking time to leave your detailed thoughts! It’s an individual decision that must be made for each consumer. Time will tell what maintenance costs are needed for the Volt and how much the battery degrades over time and I’ll be watching that closely when I need to buy another car in a few years.

• Michael Murphy says:

want to know how well they are doing? ask Erick Belmer. over 375,000 miles, over 130,000 electric miles, still gets same range on a charge as he did when it was brand new. https://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1579

20. The Furious Finn says:

Cosmoscon: I think your calculations are basically correct regarding the Volt which is why I’m not going to invest in one until the price comes down. The main purpose for my post is to ask why you are a global warming skeptic. You are clearly a thoughtful person, so it baffles me why you would question settled science. There are, of course, a lot of conservatives who are arguing furiously that climate change is a liberal hoax, and my sense is you are a conservative, but I didn’t peg you as a “My team is always right, your team is always wrong” kind of guy. Arguing with skeptics is often a waste of time because they refuse to consider new information – except to search for any and all “facts” they can use to support their existing position. However, I’m going to make this brief point anyway since you’ve otherwise revealed yourself to be a thinker: If the vast majority of peer reviewed climate scientists all agree that global warming is real and mostly caused by humans, why isn’t that good enough for you? Who you get your information from matters. Our own National Academy of Sciences, which is scrupulously non-partisan and which provides independent scientific advice to Congress (under an act passed by Congress and signed by Abraham Lincoln), has issued a series of reports stating that global warming is real and most likely caused by human activities. These reports can be accessed here: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=05192010.

• cosmoscon says:

Thanks Finn for stopping by and taking the time to comment. As far as my views on AGW I suggest you take a look at my post here https://cosmoscon.com/2011/09/19/76/ and you can look at other posts on the topic I have here https://cosmoscon.com/category/climate-change-2/

I can tell you that I try as hard as I can to keep my politics out of the science and I hope you will see that with my details I provide in my blog posts above. Please take the time to read those and I welcome your thoughts and critical comments but please leave them on the blog post pages so I don’t confuse others coming here to look at the Chevy Volt stuff.

21. Dave Johnson says:

Uh, did you calibrate the ScanGuage for the Volt before you tested the gas mileage? Not doing so would cause the MPG to be totally wrong! Read the ScanGuage’s directions, calibrate the unit and leave the Volt alone!

Just a thought – just because a car is priced at \$40k does not necessarily mean that it is worth the cost. In the case of the Chevy Volt, you are paying a premium as GM needs to recoup their development costs. This could be substantial. The Jetta has been around for many years and I would assume that these costs have paid for themselves many times over. So, perhaps the comparison between the Jetta and volt is not too far off. For comparison purposes, I would not look at cost but probably more toward performance, creature comforts, esthetics, etc.. I have never drivrn a volt so I cannot comment on these features, but have owned several Jettas and like the car very much as I feel VW delivers good value. I have also driven a 3 series BMW and feel that it is an amazing machine and would be hard pressed to believe that it is in anyway comparable to a Volt other than price point. Bottom line: I have to agree with the author that CURRENTLY the Volt is hard to justify financially. I think it is a very cool concept but as with most technological changes, it must occur over time until there is acceptance in the market place. One other issue I see is that America does not have the electrical capacity infrastructure to support tens of thousands (let alone millions) of EVs currently. Our Transmission and distribution systems are in deplorable shape and would need a significant upgrade to allow for future capacity. That’s a fact. Just my 2 cents.

• cosmoscon says:

Great point about the electrical infrastructure to support a majority of electric vehicles and I’d like to see an analysis of that some day. And you successfully parsed out the main idea of this post, I don’t see this as a value today and I really don’t like the fact that tax payers have to offset each purchase. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

23. CarZin says:

This reminds me of you guys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=motK7CDPSKs

24. ab says:

In your estimation, you forget that any given batter usually after 500 rechargeable, start to lose their efficiency (about 20 %), so you really you would really get 35 mpg only for less than a year an half, if you charge the volt scrutiny day, well the battery won’t last more than 5 years and it would operate at 100 % efficiency only on the first 1 & 1/2 year, so how much a battery replacement cost.
Theoretically the volt it good, but when u look at the battery technology of today, it ain’t the solution to gasoline car, pretty much smoke on your eyes.
One more thing, where all these used battery will end up?

• cosmoscon says:

Yes AB, you bring up a great point about the current rechargable battery technology and this would make the Volt seem even more unjustifiable from a financial standpoint. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

• CosmosCon…

Have you done any research on this topic? Have you read anything about the engineering that went into the Volt? Or do talking points trump facts? Five minutes effort would have yielded this fact:

The battery is warranteed for EIGHT Years 100,000 miles. A 20% degradation would trigger a warranty claim.

Even if the battery degrades slightly after this period, the car will still work fine. So I might ONLY get 125MPG instead of my current 145MPG. That is still more than double any other car on the market.

I have plugged in my Volt at least 200 times (sometimes 3X in one day)… my range has gone UP. I currently get well over 40 miles per charge, 5 miles longer than its published range…. even with this “unexplained”, unprecendented super hot weather.

• man4allsea says:

I am on day three with my new volt. It’s a loaded \$45k car
Dealer discounted it 5 k
Then I will get \$7500 back
And there is 0% financing so.
I live in wyoming, a coal rich state where electricity costs \$0.07 kwh
The car will actually earn me money this year.
It’s used for work, so a depreciable asset and I get reimbursed per mile for maintenance and fuel when I drive on business at \$0.63 / mile.
Over the next two years the car will probably depreciate to 26.5k, so a I will ” lose \$12.8k, but I got prepaid \$7500 in tax credits and I save 38% on the total depreciation which is \$4200.
So my net cost for owning a loaded 45k car for two years (free maintenance and first oil change will be at 24k miles) will be \$600 in fuel and \$700 in depreciation, or about \$50 / month.
My last Lexus hybrid hs250 cost me \$550 / month and was similarly equipped.
Those are numbers I can smile about, also I don’t send money to the Persian gulf and keep it here in Wyoming. ( we also mine uranium)
I am putting in solar to completely offset the impact of the car, FYI …
PS it drives better and has a better stereo than my Lexus did.

25. Poor Tax Payer says:

This should get hate mail !

26. cosmoscon says:

Hey Bobblehead – I’ve read where GM claims 30% reduction in battery charge holding capacity is considered end of life so 20% depleted wouldn’t be considered a recall. From this link – http://hybridcars.com/news/what-happens-when-your-volt-or-ampera-battery-gets-old-46185.html Here is a couple of interesting paragraphs.

“But according to GM’s Manager, Electric Vehicle and Hybrid Communications, Kevin Kelly, what GM has fully disclosed already is it does not quite know all the potential scenarios that could play out for aging Volt and Ampera batteries – but “we’re working diligently on it every day” he said of potential re-use scenarios and related questions.”

“By definition, GM considers the 16-kilowtt-hour Volt/Ampera battery to be at the end of its usable life cycle when it has around 70-percent charge-holding capacity. When exactly that threshold is reached could vary widely depending on climate, and how the vehicle is used – but what it also means is the battery is not useless after its “usable life.”

You seem to know more about the Volt battery depletion than GM’s manager of EV communication. Do you work for GM and have access to the unreleased degradation graphs?

27. sandeen says:

The payback question has some relevance, given that Chevy opened the door a bit by pointing out how cheap each mile driven in electric mode can be. But I think that misses the larger point that honestly, people don’t usually buy material goods for payback. Somehow the question of payback only seems to come up for things which are marketed as being more efficient, renewable, green, etc. But nobody asks the payback for a Macbook Air vs. a Dell notebook. Or a Sony 48″ LED HDTV vs. a Vizio 48″ fluorescent display. Or Andersen windows vs. Pella. Yet people often buy the more expensive product because they like how it looks, they like what it does, they like how it makes them feel, or they like the marketing/branding associated with it. This is true of almost anything we buy today. Payback is interesting, and worth considering as one factor in the decision-making process for a product with operating costs. But lack of a quick simple monetary payback (especially without trying to factor in all external costs) shouldn’t discredit a product as viable; in fact the question is never even asked about 99% of the products we buy.

If Chevy markets the Volt with claims such as “this will save you money over the life of the car” then it’s worth scrutinizing, and seeing whether their baseline assumptions match your real-world criteria. But I’m not sure they ever have, have they?

28. Colt 45 says:

I see .. you don’t print the replies that prove that it cost more to drive a Jetta than a Volt

• cosmoscon says:

What are you talking about? Show me where I have deleted comments that says a Jetta is more expensive to drive than a Volt. Provide this data here and I’ll be glad to let these comments stand.

29. Colt 45 says:

I will write it again..
Chevy Volt. vs The Jetta that averages 25 mpg
Here are the given things each car gets driven 40 mi a Day. Gas cost \$3.75 /gal. Electricity cost \$0.09 /kw and lets take this out for 10 years.
Lets also call a truce on the Jettas (1) oil changes (2) brake replacements (3) transmission service (4) wires and sparkplugs (5) tune ups (6) air and fuel filters. All this should more than get a new battery for the Volt after 10 years so lets assume after the 10 year period the Volt has a brand new Battery. HERE WE GO. Its simple.

VOLT (the most expensive one no credits) \$43,500.00
40 mi per day = 12.6 kw charge X \$0.09 /kw X 365 days X 10 years = \$ 5,453.10
Total—–Dallars ——–After —— 10 Years ——————————– = \$48,953.10
_______________________________________________________________________

Jetta ( the most expensive one also) \$26,700.00
40 mi per day / 25 mpg=1.6 gal / day X \$3.75 X 365 days X 10 years = \$21,900.00
Total——Dallars——-After———10 Years ———————————= \$48,600.00

The Jetta in this case would cost \$353.10 less, but on the other hand the Volt would have brand new Batteries in it. So the resale value would be huge in favor of the Volt.
The Volt also comes with 3 Years of premium Onstar and a better warranty on the car.
We should also be looking at the 5 star safty rating on each safty catagorie on the Volt.

• Theoden says:

Colt, as I have stated here before, the cost of maintenance on ICE cars cannot be overlooked. I have tracked the cost of my cars since 1997 and even the one that cost 18K before tax ended up costing me nearly twice as much with gas and routine maintenance. Those \$400 and \$800 major service intervals on japanese name plates add up as do the cost for brake jobs, oil changes, transmission/coolant flushes, etc. German engineering is no better, my BMW is always a pleasure to take in for service. Getting out of the repair shop without spending \$400 on a problem is a good day!

Since I am not driving my other cars that much, I had the unfortunate experience of coming out to a dead battery recently. When did car batteries get to be ~\$175+?

30. Colt 45 says:

If there are any incentives that would put you even farther ahead. Just for fun in the above senario lets say after 10 years the Volts value was \$12,000.00 more than the Jetta because of the New Batteries. then lets add a \$7500.00 incentive. Thats \$19,500.00 and subtract the \$353.10 thats \$19,146.90 more value in the Volt. \$\$\$ 19 Thousand Dallars better value.

31. Rick Miller says:

I am about to put solar panels at my house. I’m putting i extra capacity. A dealer told me a Volt would use about 300 kilowatts/month. So I am hoping to have mostly free energy to drive a plug-in hybrid. My utility company is offering a huge rebate that pays for 80% of the solar panels. If I put in only what I needed the cost, net of rebate and tax credit, would be \$4,000 but I’m going to spend almost twice as much to get the extra capacity. I realize solar isn’t practicable but in my situation it makes sense.

32. Theoden says:

My Volt recently turned 10 months old and I have been extremely pleased with its performance and lack of maintenance. I am using between 220-225 kWh per month for charging however, I have mitigated the extra cost of charging the Volt through conservation. All it takes is few modifications to one’s wasteful habits and your monthly energy bills can actually remain level. Try modulating your thermostat by a few degrees to squeak out ~ 6-10 kWh per day. I have driven 10K on 46 gallons of gasoline. I used 0.1 gallons the first 3k miles and the remaining 99% of the total gas used was for 3 interstate road trips where I averaged ~41.5 mpg when in CS mode.

When I am not charging at home on nuclear/hydro/NG power, I typically take advantage of two solar powered charging stations located along my travel route. I wanted to install solar panels by Christmas but it looks like that project will be postponed until early next year. What size system are you going with? I am setting my sights on a system between 5.5 – 7.5 watts.

Enjoy your Volt. My BMW and Mitsu are getting really lonely parked in the garage. Matter of fact, one car battery died after an extended period of being parked. The new Prius may also find itself getting replaced by a Volt. Its a good car however its is not nearly as fun and peppy to drive as the Volt.

33. Colt 45 says:

Dec 10th 2012.. I traded in my 2012 Volt with 14000 mi and got a 2013 Volt. The new one had one more option than the old one ” The Bose Radio”. Im not sure if I can say this right, but after the trade I got a new car and \$500 Dallars. Yes I am \$500 better off getting a brand new car.
I am able to tell those that have a Volt from those that do not. The people that try to unjustafy the Volt are trying to convince themselves that they made the right choice by not getting a Volt and Im ok with that.
The Volt has won the most satisfied buyer of any cars two years in a row now. So if they are talking the Volt down its because they chose a car they are not satisfied with.

34. Wolf says:

A couple of comments from the standpoint of an electrical engineer and (quite happy) Volt driver who is also involved in the energy business:
1) Not a car for everyone and every situation. Consider heating or air conditioning. These are not things you want to run from a battery. Hence, a good car for climates like California. I would not get one if I lived in Alaska.
2) The grid issue: Most utilities have time-of-use rate schedules. They WANT you to charge at night, and hopefully run PV cells on your roof during the peak hours of the day. It is in their best interest to keep the energy consumption flat over the whole day. Peak power is expensive and requires backup plants to run or imports from neighboring states. That way, EVs and PV solar installations work hand in hand to balance the grid.
3) I charge with the cable that came for free with the Volt and that plugs into a 110 V outlet in the garage. I could take that cable and plug it in at work if I could drive the car closer to the building. No extra cost and very flexible.
4) I did not get the Volt for purely economical reasons. I could get a Passat TDI turbo diesel that gets around 40 miles per gallon and is much cheaper and less complex. But I wanted coal/gas/oil to be consumed for generating electricity in a power plant, where emissions can be controlled tightly, rather than using gasoline in an inefficient way. Remember: Any gasoline engine is only 20% efficient. 80% of the energy are lost as heat. Power plants can sell the heat to heat buildings and do other smart things.
5) The Volt is a marvel of engineering, almost like on iPhone on wheels. Yes, and it is a first for Chevrolet, who tested batteries from 28 suppliers over years to select the final vendor. So much thought and development time went into features like the automatic burning of gas every now and then in order to keep the lubrication intact and the forced switch to gas engine power after a year if no gas is used at all. I can program the electricity rate schedule for the Volt to pick the best rate for charging, or I can just tell it to charge so I can drive off at 7:30 AM. This costs an enormous amount of money that you don’t have to spend when you develop a conventional car. I think that future Volts or whatever they will call them in a few years will be much more affordable. In the meantime you need a few enthusiasts to buy into the concept.
6) Charging efficiency: Per Chevrolet, the usable capacity is 10.8kWh. However, the battery heats up when being charged. This is the ~3kWh or so energy loss that had been mentioned before, not charger inefficiency per se. Still, at \$0.12 per kWh, it is a deal.
7) The ideal scenario is when you drive mostly less than 40 miles per day. I had the car for two months before I saw the gas station the first time. I do not expect an oil change being necessary during my 3-year lease. Also, I watch my display go up to 40 to 50 kW power injection INTO the battery when I push on the brakes, which tells me these brake pads will last a long time.
8) Yes, the torque of the electric motor is nice. I don’t think it beats a sports car, but then, the Volt has to accelerate a very heavy battery.
9) One thing I did not see mentioned is how quiet this car is. It is just relaxing to push the accelerator to the floor and hear nothing but the wind and the sound of the tires.

35. Wolfman says:

So, I wonder if the buyer of a Corvette compares the price of one to a Camaro, Challenger, or Mustang. I wonder if the BMW driver compares their car to the price of a comparably sized Toyota, Nissan, Chevy, or Ford. Hell, I wonder if a Malibu buyer compares the cost of a Malibu to a Sonic or Spark. My guess is no. So, why must the Volt magically compare to a Volkswagen, or an economy car? The Volt is much more. It is tech, the enjoyment of instant torque, or the immesurable value of not giving my hard earned money to tin pot dictators who despise us. There is also the convenience of being able to “refuel” in my own driveway instead of a stinky gas station. I traded in a Hyundai Veloster that I owned for only six months for my Volt. I don’t care if I EVER break even on this car. It is simply the best car ever built – period. If it is all about spending as little money as possible on a car, then go to a car auction and buy used fleet vehicles from your local municipality. That is your answer if it is all about saving money.

36. Wolf Homma says:

Wolfman,
Thanks for reminding us that car purchases are controlled by emotions to a large part. We get excited about the Volt and its high-tech features. Cosmocon and others apply strictly the logic of economy. I can’t fault them for that. Secretly, I laugh when I see gas prices go up. Let the guzzler drivers pay, that is what they deserve. Lately, I see gasoline car drivers infuriated about cars that use no or almost no gas: How dare they not use gas and pay gas taxes? Who is going to pay for road maintenance? Long term, tax collection will have to change to account for efficient cars.
I see a Volt now every day, as opposed to one every week last year. Chevrolet sold around 5,000 vehicles last quarter. Not bad. According to Cosmocon, these are 5,000 irrational people. But seriously, Cosmocon is not too far off with his assessment. I leased this car just to see how it works, and I had the same reluctance as Cosmocon to spend \$40,000 on a car.

37. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a
little research on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast
due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol.
So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the

38. Theoden says:

My Volt after 18 months:
Driven ~18,000 miles
4-wheel alignment \$70.00 (city has craters for pot holes!)
I average between 42-45 miles per charge at 58 mph
I have used 60 gallons for 4 interstate road trips.
Local travel gas consumption was less than 1 gallon.
My annual power bill prior to purchasing the Volt was \$2,030, in 2012 with the Volt it was \$2,256.

The really remarkable thing about my energy usage is the fact that I added another adult and a heat pump heating to my household for a meager \$226 increase. Dialing that thermostat back really makes a difference in your daily kWh consumption.

39. Doctor Lance says:

I just came across this site. I think your analysis is valid, but I still traded my BMW 335 diesel for a Volt for two reasons: I get free electricity at my place of employment and I get to drive in the carpool lanes. I pay less than \$300 per month on the Volt lease (the BMW lease was \$600). I enjoy both cars equally well and I think it’s fair to compare them against each other.

• Wolf Homma says:

Right on, Dr. Lance. The Volt accelerates nicely, not a sports car but still very agile. And I can floor the accelerator without guilt: I get the energy back into my battery when I have to stop at a light. This is something combustion engines will NEVER achieve, which makes them so ‘last millennium’.

40. patb2009 says:

i think you should look at a 40 mile commute with charging at work and put a loaded cost figure in, use the IRS ops figure and delete gas and maintenance costs.

also some people like new tech, that’s never a economic case, but it’s just cool.

41. Ray says:

Not sure where you came up with a \$38K sticker price for a Volt. After fed & state rebates, plus my dealer’s incentives, my Volt cost \$24K, only \$4K more than your Jetta. As others have mentioned, the Jetta is NO comparison. And also the use of HOV lanes is virtually priceless out here in LA, even if it expires in 2019 (I’ll take 5 years of it).

42. Looking for a Tsunami of Traffic to formulate your Website?
Their profession of Christ doesn’t equate to performance for
Him. The elite (our slavemasters) want ignorance, not education.
The lucky ones end up at The Wild Animal Sanctuary.

43. I was trying to do my own calculations based on charging stations vs home. Thank you for finding the information on how many KWH it takes to charge the battery.

Beyond that, I find your analysis to be flawed. I was driving a gas car that was completely paid for at 22 mpg before I bought my volt. I was spending \$250 a MONTH plus lots of maintenance. Now I spend \$250 (the payments + free charging) a month for a new car with premium features such as Onstar for the first 3 years free, power everything, remote control everything, and complete bluetooth integration and app control via the Internet (try finding that in a \$20000 car). The real killer to your argument is you can find many places to charge for free…especially here in southern California. I charge for free at work and my wife charges for about \$5 a week at workplace charging stations (she was spending \$270 a week on gas).
We both have HOV stickers and get reserved EV parking in many of the places we visit.
There is also a \$1500 state rebate paid directly to us. My wife and I both bought the 2014 Volt on the same day…our only regret is we didn’t do it sooner. The Chevy Volt is fantastic and probably the best deal on the market right now.

44. hi – wow, this is a two year running thread… amazing… my only question is about your headline.. “unjustifiable at any cost.” I think you mean, unjustifiable at 30K. What I’m looking at now are used Volts that are selling for 17-22K… don’t the numbers look a whole lot better when a two or three year old volt is up against a new Jetta?

• cosmoscon says:

You are right! I’m amazed that this thread is still getting hits but I’ve enjoyed the comments here!

Yes, I need to run the numbers again and write a new post to see how things line up. Also, I’d like to add the Nissan Leaf to the analysis.

Thanks for stopping by!

45. CarNut says:

One thing people seem to miss here is what to consider a comparable car.
If you want to compare to only cars with the EV-Gas function currently in production:
None.
Comparing to a gas or diesel powered car: This is trivially easy, the Volt is a version of the
Chevy Cruze. A Cruze is available in several forms, gas, diesel, and gas ‘eco’. There’s even a stick shift option, which can be fun or a pain depending on use pattern.
I can’t see how anyone compares this car to a BMW: they apparently are in the BMW income bracket and may have cross shopped that model range. That reflects on their circumstances, not the vehicle itself.
I’m quite happy the Volt tech is developed and made in the USA; some day it may be a viable competitor for the compact car buyer (who is stretching to pay \$25K).

Unfortunately, our current policies will provide careers for engineers and manufacturing workers from other countries in preference to raising Americans from under or unemployment. It’s always going to be more profitable to hire a young, ambitious immigrant than a somewhat older, tired-of-being-outsourced American. That wasn’t the change we were hoping for!

46. Chevoltret says:

The op is unjustly criticizing a vehicle he isn’t knowledgeable about. And if he IS knowledgeable about it, remember that unjust criticism is a disguised compliment. Enough said.

• Chevoltret says:

And also remember – no one ever kicks a dead dog 😉

47. Sanity says:

I drive a Volt because I really despise big oil companies. Exxon never finished cleaning up Alaska and BP never finished cleaning the Gulf, etc. The miniscule fines they paid compared to the amount of damage done is despicable. This planet has more pollution than it can tolerate. Oh, and I saved well over \$2000 last year in fuel costs over my previous car, I spent nothing on maintenance, I never have to waste time at a gas station, zero range anxiety, the Volt is super reliable, drives like a dream and has more power than I need. ROI? what’s that!

• Chevoltret says:

Well said. I totally agree. But I’m sure the author still doesn’t see our side of this picture. Sad world we live in.

• Theoden says:

My Volt is nearly 3.5 years old now and I still love this car. Matter of fact, we ditched the Nissan Leaf and purchased another used 2013 Volt for less than \$20,000. The thing that I am most impressed with has been the battery life and the lack of maintenance. I still get on average 36 miles per charge in the dead of winter and some ~40-46 miles per charge in the summer. The only maintenance that I have had to do tire rotations, alignments, and that every 2 year oil change (a freebie) for the generator. All of this worry about the battery needing to be replaced after just a few short years is much to do about nothing. I will have to replace the 12V AGM battery in the boot well before I start to worry about the drive battery pack.

48. markinro says:

I’ve researched several cars (small, midsize, gas, hybrid) and compared them with the Volt. In ALL cases the only reason the Volt had a lower TCO was because of the tax credit. In quite a few cases, the Volt TCO was \$1000+ more including the tax credit. I have Sonata ICE for about \$300/month including gas. The Volt would run me \$200 more per month. I get a bigger car, avg 40mpg. No leather but how can you justify leather for an additional \$7000. EV will never come into its own until the price without any credits drops 30-50%.

49. ian witucki says:

Would you rather drive a Subaru Outback or a Tesla Model S?

TCO for a Subaru Outback for 10 years is \$30k sticker, \$40k in gas (do the math, \$400/month x 10 years, and that assumes prices won’t double), \$10k in repairs/maintenance = \$80k. Sell it for \$3k when you’re done. Buy a Tesla Model S for \$80k, pay \$5k in electricity, \$3k in maintenance = \$88k. Who knows what it’s worth when you’re done. But it doesn’t matter. Assume it’s \$0. For \$11k more over 10 years (assuming gas prices are static!!) you’re driving a Model S over an Outback.

The OP has a lot of levers in his calcs that are coloring the argument. As you can see above, for a heavy driver (\$400/month, \$40k in 10 years) like I am, the levers can be manipulated to get you a Model S instead of an Outback.

Which is a great place to be.

50. Terry says:

I’m a new soon to be owner of a 2016 Volt. Standard model, no options. Purchase price was \$32,500. Factory Rebate of \$1,000 brings it down to \$31,500. Costco/GM program gives me a \$700 cash card, brings it down now to \$30,800. I’ll be getting the full \$7,500 credit on my taxes, bringing the actual “cost of the car” to \$23,300 for a car with a MSRP \$34,000 before I drive a double mile.

The new Volts now have a range of 53 miles on a charge and 42mpg using regular gas when needed. Energy charge where I live is about \$.08 kWh but I don’t think I’ll even be using that. My commute roundtrip is 44 miles daily. I will be charging while at work, either free level 2 or level 1. Either way I should be able to commute work-home-work between charges using about 75% capacity. Trips on the weekend might require a charge at home.

My estimated monthly fuel savings from what I get now in my Malibu will make about 50% of my car payment. As many have stated, figuring out a ROI has to take in many factors. For me, it was a no brainer.

• mo621 says:

sounds awesome Terry. how do you like it so far?
my commute is approx 17 miles one way. my ’14 volt only needs supplementing in the winter when temps are below 40F or so

• Terry says:

Very pleased. Temps have been in the 35-40’s so I supplement my 45mile round trip commute with about 1/4 gallon of gas. Using my extra \$2,500 Volt incentive I went out and got a 2016 Cruze for the wife on a 2 year lease. Cost was \$39 a month!

51. Rooting4Chevy says:

I am ok with subsidizing American electric cars because it shifts power away from oil producing countries while creating jobs here. Electricity likely has to be produced locally, since it is difficult to transport, which means local jobs to support electric, solar, geothermal, etc.
Further, If the Middle East can’t make billions off us on oil, they won’t have as much \$ to fund ISIS and other extremist groups. Saves American and allied lives and \$ over the long haul.
The big oil jobs are in the Middle East; the solar panel guy lives down the block, next to the Power Company lineman. No one has yet paid for an environmental spill in the gulf or Alaska of solar panels to my knowledge.
May God bless our Troops and their families.

52. Propaganda for retards says:

This dipshit uses word like leftists, and greenies. He is also a climate denier. I would not be surprised if this article was funded by the Koch brothers. Unfuckingbelievable.

• Wolf Homma says:

Please, keep it civil. As a happy Volt driver (now with the 2016 Volt), I do not agree with Cosmocon’s analysis, but I would prefer to see facts, not insults.

• Cosmocon is still wrong, 4 years later. My family now owns 4 Volts: my original 2012 bought new, a 2012 base we bought used, a 2014 bought new, and my 2017 bought a month ago. we’ve use about 400 gallons of gas for all 4 cars over 150,000 miles. 4 oil changes total, 2 sets of tires. all of the brakes still look brand new (even the original one with 80,000 miles) batteries going strong, no sign of degradation. Erick Belmer has 330,000 miles on his 2012, and he has required very little maintenance. only 9 oil changes, one battery coolant exchange, one transfer case coolant exchange.
http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1579

53. terry735001 says:

now days if you look every hard you can find a good used volt for under 10k

i some how found a 2014 volt 16k miles for \$6,000 .. this was a lower stock car with out all the cool stuff

54. Jim Davis says:

Your calculation for driving a 30 mile commute is incorrect. You when you do the recharge while at work, you are not paying .12 per kWh. You’re not paying anything. Most larger employers have recharging stations which they provide for free. Many communities also have free recharging stations. The correct calculation would be using the 15 mile commute for the Volt, but comparing that cost to the 30 mile gas commute. In other words, annual cost for the Volt would be \$354.75. The gas still costs \$4,376, saving \$4,018.75 per year. In 4.5 years, the new cost difference is covered. For the used one, the savings bought the car.

Explain how this does not make economic sense?

As for the depreciation and higher cost of the Volt, eliminate that by buying it used. Here in SoCal, I can get a certified 2014 Volt for about \$16,000. A certified 2014 Chevy Cruze costs exactly the same.

55. Chris says:

I realize this is a really old article, but since both cars are still being sold…

First, why did you not factor in the cost of traditional maintenance? Are you saying that in the decade of Jetta ownership one does not perform any oil changes, timing belts, brake changes, transmission oil changes, filters, o2 sensor failures, etc, etc? That’s one fantastic vehicle if none of those maintenance items are required. Some of these items are not cheap either. Then you have to factor in the personal time wasted to bring your car in to get it done. The inconvenience of it all.

And since it’s been 5 years since this article was written, we now have a good idea of how the battery holds up. I’ve read some Volt owners have exceeded 100,000 miles on battery alone with no appreciable loss in range. At 100,000 miles, a traditional car will show signs of major wear and tear on engine and transmission parts. That’s not even including the drop in performance as the engine gets older. Some cars don’t even make it that far.

So, I believe your estimates are kind of off. Don’t bother trying to redo the math. The reality is, regardless of the ROI factor, some people buy these cars because they like them. Otherwise, nobody would be buying an Escalade when a CRV will do. Yet people buy Escalades. People still buy exotic cars knowing full well that they’d get their assess handed to them in an 1/8 mile race against a more affordable and roomier Tesla. Maybe you have an agenda, which I think you do, otherwise why would you even write an article about it?

• Mike Murphy says:

Bingo. We now own 2012, 2014, and 2017 Volts. Trust me, the math works as well as the better ownership experience.

• Theoden says:

My Volt will be 6 years old in December, and I not regret the purchase. I still get nearly 44 miles per charge at 67,000 miles and have had only one major issue (sensor fault) that required dealer repair. Overall, this car has cost me less to maintain than than the Japanese and German nameplates that I previously owned. And to top that off, it is now fusion powered courtesy of my roof mounted panels. The original article was written from a biased perspective, but the proof of the car’s viability is no longer in dispute. The electriciation of powertrains will continue. It’s inevitable.