A Fair Charge? Chevy Volt to Start at $41K


Momentum seems to be mounting toward what may be a sea change in the automobile market – and hopefully the beginning of a fundamental downshift in what we do to the air every time we hit the road. In just the last two weeks, we told you about the Nissan Leaf selling out pre-orders, the Mercedes and BMW jumping into the e-market in the not-too-distant future, new electric highways and other infrastructure plans, and how the announcement of an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the Chevy Volt is making this whole e-car business finally begin to seem real. Adding to this, yesterday’s latest show-us-the-money puzzle piece in the emerging picture: the 2011 Chevy Volt will start at $41,000.

The Volt is an electric vehicle that can drive 40 miles on batteries before a gasoline engine kicks in to extend its range another 300 miles. The $41K price tag, announced by GM yesterday at the Plug-In 2010 conference in San Jose, CA, includes a $720 destination fee. A $7,500 federal tax credit brings the net purchase price down to $33,500.

As reported by CNET, GM hopes to sell 10,000 cars in the first year and 30,000 more in 2012. The base model will have a number of features, including Bluetooth connectivity, a navigation screen, and five years of GM’s OnStar service. Four premium options are also available, including leather seats and steering wheel, rear camera and parking sensors, polished wheels, and one of three premium paints. If you want to throw down big, the fully loaded Volt will set you back $44,600, or $37,100 after the tax credit. (Some states may also offer credits on top of the Federal deal. California will rebate $5,000 for the Nissan’s all-electric Leaf, but that won’t apply to the Volt.)

The Leaf, by the way, is also due out this year and has an anticipated MSRP of $33,000. While the list price of the Bolt is higher, GM also unveiled a three-year $350-a-month lease, with a $2,500 down payment. Says GreenCarReports, “That’s only a dollar higher than the lease for the 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car, despite the Volt’s much higher purchase price.” GM says it’s doing this based on its strong belief in the car’s residual value.

The first Volts will arrive at Chevrolet dealers in November, first in California, followed by the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area, then Washington, D.C., followed by Michigan, and finally Texas.

Scott Adelson

Scott Adelson is EcoSalon's Senior Editor of HyperKulture, a monthly column that explores opening cultural doors to initiate personal change. He is also the author of InPRINT, which reviews and discusses books, new and old. You can reach him at scott@adelson.org.