The 2012 Chevrolet Volt might cost nearly $5,000 cheaper more than the 2012 Nissan Leaf, but over the next five years, it might cost you less to run. 

At least, that’s the verdict of Kelley Blue Book (KBB) which crowned the 2012 Chevy Volt the electric choice in its inaugral Total Cost of Ownership awards

Over the course of five years, it said, the total cost of ownership for a base level 2012 Volt would work out at $40,629, while the expected ownership costs for a base level 2012 Nissan Leaf for the same period total would be $42,089. 

The 2012 Nissan Leaf is cheaper to buy and doesn’t use expensive gasoline, so how did KBB come to its conclusion?

It all boils down to other costs associated with ownership.

2012 Nissan Leaf in the Apple iPhone 4S commercial

2012 Nissan Leaf in the Apple iPhone 4S commercial

According to KBB, while it costs more to purchase, the 2012 Chevrolet Volt has lower maintenance and insurance costs than the 2012 Nissan Leaf, meaning over the same five year period it costs less to run.

What it doesn’t detail however, is what kind of power mix it based its calculations on. Or, to put it more bluntly, how many miles of electric and how many miles of gasoline travel were factored into its calculation. 

“Even though the Nissan Leaf boasts a lower fair purchase price and racks up less in the way of depreciation, fuel costs and state fees,, the Volt’s slightly better maintenance figure and huge advantage in insurance costs make it number one,” KBB concluded. 

We have a slightly different take.

Chevy Volt Vs. Nissan Leaf

Chevy Volt Vs. Nissan Leaf

Ultimately, car insurance costs will reflect dramatically on personal circumstance, claim history and your Zip code. 

While insurance companies may generally put the 2012 Nissan Leaf in a higher insurance bracket than the 2012 Volt, your own personal situations will influence the insurance you get much more.

Live in a quiet neighborhood, have a clean driving license and be a low-risk driver, and the chances are you’ll be able to get a good deal on car insurance.

Live in a risky neighborhood, have a few traffic citations on your record and a few insurance claims under your belt, and it’ll cost you more. 

Moreover, if you do a lot of long-distance driving in a Chevrolet Volt without recharging, your total cost of ownership will most certainly rise. 

Our advice? Before making a choice on which plug-in car to buy, make sure you sit down and carefully plan expected expenses over the first few years of ownership. 

To do that accurately, talk with existing owners about their own maintenance costs, research insurance quotes, and put them into a spreadsheet.

Don’t forget to include fuel in your cost analysis too, along with predicted mileage figures and any lease or finance fees for owning the car. 


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