Electric-Car Price War Heats Up: Chevy Volt $5,000 Cash Back

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2013 Chevrolet Volt  -  Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

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Last month, the Nissan Leaf passed the Chevrolet Volt to take this year's top spot among plug-in electric cars for sale.

Now Chevy is fighting back.

It announced that it will offer $5,000 cash back on remaining 2012 Volt range-extended electric cars, and $4,000 on 2013 models, according to Chevrolet spokespeople quoted yesterday.

The carmaker's inventory of Volts has risen to 140 days' worth of sales, more than double the 60 days that automakers consider optimal to keep dealers supplied with cars while minimizing inventory.

The sales incentives are the latest evidence of a small price war among makers of plug-in electric cars.

With domestic production of the 2013 Nissan Leaf now underway in Tennessee, Nissan is working aggressively with its dealers to boost sales beyond their current level of about 2,000 cars a month.

To ensure that it sells enough battery-electric models to meet its legal requirement under California zero-emission vehicle rules, last month Honda lowered its Fit EV lease price to $259 a month from $389. It also eliminated the cap on miles driven each year.

That brought the Fit EV into the company of other makers who have instituted low-price leases, including the $199-a-month pricing offered on the Leaf and the Ford Focus Electric.

That's the price at which the the upcoming Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e will be offered as well.

Currently, Chevrolet also offers a $269-per-month lease rate on new Volts with a down payment of $2,399.

The cash-back incentive deal will run through the end of June, Chevy said.

The new price incentives were widely covered by multiple outlets, including CNBC and The Detroit News.


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Comments (34)
  1. I wonder how much Akerson's pontifications on the next gen Volt and its lower-cost batteries and platform improvements have led to folks waiting and seeing (Osborne Effect)?

    That said, I'll have to bring it up when I get my Volt in for its biannual fluid change later this month, perhaps it would make sense to trade in and get a 2013 if they have a black one.

  2. Incidentally, I ended up trading in my 2011 for a 2013 :)

  3. Pulling the trigger later this month.

  4. Hmm why do Nissan and Chevy have to give away their electric hybrids when Ford gets hundreds more than the sticker price in some markets for its C-Max? I would suggest those of you that are thinking about the Volt consider this and maybe go and drive a C-Max Energi. I have had mine for over 3 months and I am still amazed at what this car can do. A few days ago we had to take the dog to the vet, a trip of 8 miles one way. Well over a period of 3 hours we made this trip twice and it was on electric the whole time. That is 32 miles on electric! Also this car has power too as it has a 2.0 liter gas engine. Compare that to a 1.4 liter gas engine in the volt.

  5. The gas engine in the Volt doesn't drive the wheels, it just provides electricity for the electric motor. So the size doesn't make as much difference as it would if it were directly connected. In fact, the smaller engine in the volt is probably more efficient because it's smaller.

    And just to point out, you're saying that you can't get any discounts on the Ford, so people should go and spend more money, because for some reason they can't get discounts. That doesn't make any sense.

    And your 32 mile trip would have been well within the Volt's all battery range of 38 miles.

    I drove the C-Max a few weeks ago, it was nice, but I prefer the Volt after driving it last night.

  6. Not to mention how ugly the C-Max is.

  7. GM admitted in 2011 the engine does drive the wheels in certain conditions. That explains the gearing system it uses. It's no less a great plug-in hybrid but you can't drink the marketing Kool-aid.

  8. The "certain conditions" never occur any time in the Volt's pure EV range (unlike the Energi), only after the battery is depleted and then only as an efficiency gain during steady higher speed driving (again, unlike the Energi where the gas engine is a "crutch" at any time to support the undersized electric motor.) No Kool-aid required, just the facts in the difference between Plug in Hybrid like the Energi and an Electric Vehicle with a Range Extender like the Volt. And if Barry Meister really did use *no gas* on his 32 mile trip, there was a long list of conditions he had to meet (crippled EV mode, no hills, gentle acceleration, below maximum EV speed, possible angry "tailgaters", the list goes on). The Volt's same condition list is here:

  9. A Volt is invariably out of juice and the gasoline engine drive the wheel directly.

    This is NOT a serial EV, despite what GM has made you to believe.

  10. @Mike Rashone,

    Really? So, it is NOT a serial EV that Engine drive the wheel directly? At all speed? If so, show me the proof. I think you are just lying.

    I have a Volt and I can prove to you that clutches doesn't engage for the Volt until 70mph.

    Also, A BEV running out of juice will require a tow truck which is FAR worse than a series hybrid.

  11. PS The Volt's "latching" of gasoline engine to directly assist in driving the wheels at steady state higher speeds was an engineering decision by GM because it resulted in 7-10% higher mpg over long drives.

  12. No, GM built a silly transmission for the Volt because of the Gearheads who were going to lose their jobs with a pure serial EV. Human factors often are more determining than some marketing hype.

  13. And just to re-iterate, a fully charged Volt will drive 100% pure EV for 25 to 50+ miles; floor the pedal and and you'll smoothly go EV only all the way up to 101 mph (where the built-in speed limiter kicks in) in about 20 seconds. To just call it a "plug-in hybrid" is simply not accurate.

  14. Why is "plug-in hybrid" not sufficient? There is nothing in the name that suggests that the CD mode has to be blended for PHEVs. It certainly is GM marketing Kool-Aid to use EREV--they made up this term and are the only OEM (to my knowledge) to use it consistently.

    I agree with the rest of your post, but that line at the end just can't be justified. If the engine is used during CD mode, it's just a Blended PHEV. If not, call it a PHEV. The C-MAX Energi is the former, the Volt the latter. Easy peasy.

  15. That is b/c the word of "hybrid" has been polluted by the conventional ICE such as Prius.

    Calling Prius a hybrid is already WRONG since it only has a single source of energy, that is GASOLINE. However, one makes that statement b/c the Prius can generate "motion" through either electric motor or gasoline motor ALONE.

    In the case of Volt, it can NOT operate on the gasoline engine ALONE. Therefore, it should be distinguished here.

    Maybe the original 2011 year model of Government EPA label was more correct. It was called "dual fuel/source" vehicle instead of the "degraded" term "hybrid".

  16. @ Mittar Just to correct you there are instances when the ICE does drive the wheels its been discussed ad infinitum in these

  17. Is there a distinction in terms that ICE couples torque to the wheels vs, ICE can solely drive the wheels?

    If NOT, then all cars are hybrids as well. B/c they have starter motor that can drive the wheel too...

  18. There are more comments in this thread
  19. Did you charge between trips?

  20. My volt gets 38-41 miles on electric. I've only had it for 2 weeks, but so far, I really like it - very zippy, stylish, and good mileage.

  21. There are more comments in this thread
  22. Barry Meister (aka Ford fanboy) wrote in a seperate comment section: "That is why I bought the C-Max Energi. Yesterday I had to take that 40 mile trip and left with only 14 miles of electric range. Once again the C-Max performed very well as I got 55 mpg on that trip. "

    So, in that trip of 40 miles with 14 miles EV, you had 26 miles that used gas which gave you 55 mpgBS. 55mpgBS indicates that in that 40 miles total range you used 0.72 gallons of gas. 0.72 gallon of gas for 26 gas miles produces a real world "REAL MPG" of 35.75MPG

    @ 35.75MPG that is lower than Volt's combined 37MPG or 40MPG hwy rating.

    For a typical 40 miles trip, most Volt owners will easily do that with NO gas burned at all.

  23. Can someone tell me where I can get that $199 a month lease for an electric Ford Focus? I'd like to get that deal. In Northern California where I live, the best rate advertised by Ford is $259 a month with approx. $2K down, or $289 a month with approx. $1k down...

  24. I don't show that lease available on the Ford.com site any longer. Maybe they will reduce it again next month?

  25. my question is: When Chevy or any other automaker will start selling EVs in PR? we in summer 2013 and still no EVs for sale at the Island

  26. @Homar: For readers who may not be familiar with the abbreviation, I presume you mean Puerto Rico?

  27. The MPGe may bring a lot of confusion.
    I was in an e6 by BYD that simply told the range remaining. It had 264 Km display when I got in the taxi. When I got out it was about 244. It was all big city travel with lots of braking. We had traveled about 80km/hr for 30 minutes all told. That is 40 Km. But the range remaining said we had traveled 20 km. Why the difference? Because the high efficiency brake regen put half the energy used back into the battery.
    So in that one trip the brake regen literally put 20 km of distance back into the car!
    I am sure this is how you should think about electric vehicles. In a taxi that means I paid 80 bucks but the car only did 40 bucks worth of travel work.
    SO the taxi driver makes double the money.

  28. I have seen ads in the greater Sacramento area for as much as $8100 cash off the sales price of a 2013 Volt ! $4000 from GM and a $4100 "dealer discount" so perhaps GM is also providing some further "indirect selling" incentives to the dealers on top of the cash discount to the buyer?????

    I wonder....

  29. Given all the massive feedback on how the various Ford plug-in models are NOT coming that close to their EPA projected fuel use and further that the Volt actually does regularly achieve buyer's expectations, these prices on the 2013 Volt are just AMAZING. We are in the last 6 months of our 3 year lease on a 2011 Volt and have been TOTALLY impressed with the overall performance, fit, and GM support. I had not owned ANY "American car" for over 40 years before taking delivery of the Chevy Volt (though I get a new car every 2-3 years and have owned everything from Porsche, BMW, Audi, Lexus,Infiniti, VW, Toyota, Honda, and Mazda over these last 40 years). The Volt rides like an Audi and has the 0-40 mph kick of our BMW and make like a Lexus.

  30. Some of my local dealer (SF Bay Area, north bay) are advertising $4k discount from GM and $4k discount from the dealer. Combined with $7,500 from the Federal and $1,500 from the state, a $40K Volt can be bought for about $23K.

    A $44k Volt is loaded with all options (except for color and wheel options). So, you can get a LOADED Volt for only $27K after all incentives.

    A similarly equipped Cruze would cost about $25K. A similarly equipped Prius would cost about $28K. A similarily equipped Nissan Leaf would cost about $26K after federal and state incentives.

    And on top of that, you get 0% 48-month financing.

    I would have bought one but I already have one and happy with it.

  31. If it seated 5, I would consider it. But seating just 4 makes it about as appealing, and worthless for my family as a Smart EV.

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