UPDATE: Low-Thirties 2011 Chevrolet Volt Price Is AFTER Tax Credit

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2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

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UPDATE: Well, it sounded too good to be true, and perhaps it was. We asked GM spokesman Dave Darovitz for comments on CEO Whitacre's "low-thirties" price for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

Darovitz tells GreenCarReports.com that while Chevy "has not officially announced final Volt pricing, a price in the low 30's after a $7,500 tax credit is in the range of possibilities." [our italics]

In other words, Whitacre's"low thirties" quote includes the $7,500 Federal tax credit for individual buyers. We're back to the $40,000 sticker price for the Volt that's been rumored for a year or more, following a casual comment by GM's Bob Lutz. And there you are.


With the 2011 Chevrolet Volt just 10 months from showrooms, and journalists able to write first-drive reports on all-but-final cars, the biggest remaining question is the price.

Now comes a bombshell: The Volt is "going to sell in the low thirties," says General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre, and the company will "get a margin" on that price, meaning it expects to make a profit on the extended-range electric vehicle.

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

Enlarge Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

Enlarge Photo

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production prototype, January 2010

Enlarge Photo

If that is true--and not just PR posturing--General Motors will have pulled off a remarkable coup. By contrast, Toyota is widely assumed to have spent billions of dollars subsidizing several years' worth of sales of its early hybrid-electric vehicles before turning a profit.

The Volt's 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack alone is thought to cost as much as $8,000, and the Volt carries essentially the same 1.4-liter gasoline engine as the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan, plus an electric motor, a generator, and power electronics. In other words, the Voltec powertrain has many pricey pieces. (The Volt does not, however, require a transmission.)

Fierce debates have raged over the profitability of electric vehicles, with results as diverse as the estimates of when electric vehicles will actually show a payback for the average consumer. All of those estimates start with assumptions about the retail price of electric cars.

If consumers can get a 2011 Volt for, say, $32,500 (the midpoint of the "low thirties"), followed by a $7,500 Federal tax credit on top, a Volt ends up "costing" only $25,000. That's likely close to the sticker price of a high-end 2011 Chevrolet Cruze gasoline car.

And if GM can do that, Volt demand will clearly expand far beyond the early adopters and electric-car enthusiasts who are expected to snap up initial production of 10,000 cars during 2011 and 60,000 the following year.

If the Volt stickers well below $35K--and GM really makes a profit, or just breaks even, at that price--then the future of electric cars looks brighter than it did even a week ago. Stay tuned to GreenCarReports.com for updates on the price of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.


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Comments (8)
  1. Facts are stubborn things.
    As I've said many times, how many mainstream consumers are going to pay the expected unsubsidized price of around $40,000 for the Volt when the 2010 Toyota Prius starts at $22,400?
    And how many mainstream consumers are going to accept the driving range, charging time, cold weather performance, and trunk/passenger space of battery-only cars?
    The focus should be on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which will be a viable replacement for gasoline-powered internal combustion engine vehicles beginning in 2015.
    Just take a look at the following article.
    "7 reasons to love Toyota hydrogen fuel cell vehicles"
    Greg Blencoe
    Chief Executive Officer
    Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc.
    "Hydrogen Car Revolution" blog

  2. Greg - I agree, it isn't cost effective to pay the extra for the Volt, but the Volt does offer benefits over the 2010 Prius, so they can't be compared on just cost.
    And facts are stubborn things. Toyota may point out some potential benefits of hydrogen fuel cells, but they also say that they need to be 100 times less expensive (http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/10/toyota-fcv-200091004.html). They hope they can do it, but it seems like a huge leap. And that target still leaves out all the other issues, such as hydrogen production (at a reasonable cost), infrastructure, refuel time, etc.

  3. And he's back folks. Greg Blencoe of Hydrogen Discoveries Inc, which according to the website... does not produce ANYTHING except hype and fails to produce any real world facts. It's always easy to post a negative comment but when no facts or figures are used, it's really just hot air. And it's gotten a bit stale to paste a link to the same hydrogen article in every comment. By 2015 (when he says hydrogen will begin replacing gas there will be enough EVs on the road to bring the cost down. But hey, he's a "CEO" so he must know what he's talking about.

  4. No matter how you package any non hydrogen powered electric car, they utimately require power from the grid, which means your using coal, or nuclear, power. To those who worry about the production of a carbon foot print, they are still producing CO2. The Volt ultimately requires horsepower to move on down the road, and all comes down to the conversion of energy to perform the work. There are fuel efficient cars manufactured by Hyundai that cost far less then the volt, and the payback for these vehicles is less then the maximum of 19 years.

  5. A "hydrogen powered" car obviously also needs external power to generate hydrogen. In practical terms, a hydrogen fuel cell is simply a long lasting rechargeable battery. Since hydrogen generation using current technology is relatively inefficient, chemical (i.e. LiFePO4) batteries will fare much better in terms of energy use per mile traveled. Newer battery technologies on the horizon (Lithium-air for instance) will also be several times better in terms of energy density (what I've heard is that with such batteries, the energy needed to travel 500 miles can be stored in a battery pack about the size and weight of a tank of gas).
    Oh and by the way, the Volt isn't a "battery-only car," it's a series hybrid with a stated range of around 40 miles all-electric, and 600 miles per tank of gas. I'm not necessarily a Volt fan, and certainly waiting to see whether Chevy can produce a vehicle of adequate quality, but it seems well worth a look. I'll be test driving a Volt this Saturday.

  6. I'm glad other people understand the farce of hydrogen fuel cells. Greg please educate yourself instead of spouting completely misleading fabrications. Hydrogen isn't a fuel source, it can't be mined, it has to be generated. To generate it requires... Electricity! As Snerd pointed out, hydrogen is essentially an explosive and inefficient battery.
    Greg - if you haven't driven a Volt, you really should stop speculating and keep your mouth shut. I've driven one and it doesn't have the problems you mention. The Volt isn't a battery-only car, it's a series hybrid with a turbocharged ICE as a backup power source.

  7. yes, that is really a pity...but I am sure that the next generation of electric cars will become massively cheaper (the more buy one, that is)...I think we will see a "chip" price curve, especially for the batteries...
    btw: 16 kWh does not sound like much, does it?

  8. I'm old school. Anything I pay 40 thou for, had better be able to crank out 0-60 in at least 5 sec.

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