VIDEO: Will Electric Cars Like The Chevy Volt Save You Money?

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The problem with shooting video is that there's always one thing you forget to say until the camera's gone.

Especially if it's low-budget and done on the fly. That's when the onscreen talent tends to forget to qualify some of the things they say.

Like, for instance, this discussion of the unlikely nature of actually saving money over a conventional four-seat compact car if you buy the $41,000 2011 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car.

Some of things we left out in this two-minute video:

  • While the price is $41,000, many dealers are adding thousands of dollars in markups;
  • On the other hand, buyers are often eligible for a $7,500 Federal income-tax credit for their purchase;
  • And there is a bewildering array of various state, local, and corporate incentives as well;
  • But, most important, payback depends entirely on your driving habits.

If, for example, you only ever drove your Volt 25 to 40 miles a day, so all of its miles were run on grid power, and you did that most days, and pay electricity rates that are low by national standards ... you might well save money over a long term of ownership (10 years or more, say).

We stand by our conclusion that most owners won't see a payback, but as usual, two minutes is too little in which to discuss the complexities of electric-car economics fully.

Let us know what you think of our latest video effort: Leave us your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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Comments (9)
  1. Building on what John is saying, that is $12 savings per 100 miles. That translates to $12,000 over the 100,000 mile life of a car. That difference doesn't makeup for the price difference with the non-EV (as he said) unless you consider Federal and California incentives.
    But if you are of the age to have lived though the 1974 oil embargo, you might see an EV as... well... priceless.

  2. Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history. I remember waiting in those long gas lines to get a few gallons of gas. That is one of the many reasons I wanted an EV. When Enron was gaming our electric system, I decided to put solar panels on my roof. When water rationing was imposed on us in the mid 70ties I dug a well in my backyard with a post hole digger, and we have been using that good quality water ever since. You do not have to be a victim.

  3. We have a bit over 2600 miles on our Volt; we are averaging 102 mpg! Try to get that kind of mileage from any other vehicle that can also make real road trips of 300+ miles a day when needed.

  4. A similarly equiped BMW 3 series will run about the same price as the Volt before tax credits. It's MPG is 18 City / 28 Hwy / 23 Combined. Yea, the BMW is a "luxury" car, but so the Volt. You have leather seats, gps, premium audio, and the luxury of using two different fuels.
    I'm almost exclusively using power in my Volt and getting 3.33 miles/KWH @ $.09/KWH.
    100 Miles:
    Volt: (100/3.33)*$.09 = $2.70
    BMW 3: (100/23)*$4.00 = $17.39

  5. Is the Chevy volt as bare-bones as the Chevy Cruz? I think not. Maybe don't compare luxury apples to bare-bones oranges.

  6. And then there's value in "sticking it to the man!" The concept of not using foreign oil but the electricity from our 5Kw solar panel system is appealing.

  7. I am always amazed that people miss the key concept of multiple charges per day. I drive to work, charge it, drive home charge it... 70 miles electric a day easy... 1500 electric miles a month, and it's cheaper than comperable Lexus that I would have bought , any questions?

  8. Buying an electric car and being an 'early adopter' has nothing to do with 'wanting the latest tech gadget' as often has been sighted. I bought it because its the right thing to do.

  9. previous car payment $263mo. previous monthly gas bill $600-$700. current (Volt) payment $426mo. insurance change - about the same, within $20. currently monthly gas bill with volt >$100. you do the math.

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