While the price cut on the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric car made headlines on Friday, there's more to the announcement than meets the eye.

And the news gets worse after a look through the really small print.

What many writers appear to have missed is that GM has actually "decontented" the base Volt that's now priced at $39,995.

For 2012, buyers must pay extra for the navigation/DVD system and the sound system, which are now listed as options. On the 2011 model they were included at no charge.

Let's do the math. The base price of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt was $40,280 with a required $720 destination fee bringing the real price to $41,000.

Only three options could be added for 2011:  premium leather interior ($1395); rear camera and park assist technology ($695), and polished alloy wheels ($595).  Several of the metallic paint colors added a further premium, from $495 (red) to $1000 (white diamond or Viridian Joule).

Now, the new base price of the 2012 Volt is $39,145. The destination fee has gone up to $850, bringing the total to the $39,995 mark. 

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

The new and expanded option list for 2012 includes a more expensive wheel option ($695 for 17" wheels with black inserts), as well as a new listing for an energy efficient Bose sound system ($495).

But the shock is that the previously standard navigation/DVD system is now a $1,995 option for the 2012 Volt, and the premium Bose sound system that was also standard for 2011 now racks up that $495 fee.

GM has also reduced the complimentary OnStar coverage included with 2012 Chevy Volt models to three years from the five-year plan included with the 2011 Volt.

OnStar coverage is priced at $299 per year for the package included in the base price of the 2011 Volt, so the two years deleted from the 2012 model amount to a further decrease in the value of the 2012 car of almost $600.

A 2012 Volt does add one standard feature that was universally criticized for its absence in the 2011 model. For 2012, proximity locking/unlocking will now come as standard. Thank you, GM, for a small but very real improvement.

But the bottom line is still grim: To get the same package of features as on the base 2011 Chevrolet Volt, which cost $41,000, the buyer of a 2012 Volt model will have to pony up $43,083.

And the 2012 has added only a single new feature (proximity locking/unlocking) with actual value.


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